Candidates from Unite for IU Student Government and Thrive for IUSG discussed diversity and inclusion as well as mask mandates during the town hall Friday.
The Unite for IUSG ticket includes presidential candidate sophomore Aidan Chism, who is a current IUSG Congress member and parliamentarian, and vice presidential candidate junior Alida Flores, who is also an IUSG Congress member.
Presidential candidate sophomore Kyle Seibert from the Thrive for IUSG ticket has no former IUSG experience, while vice presidential candidate sophomore Bell Pastore is a co-director for the IUSG First-Year Internship Program.
Thrive for IUSG has three pillars of their campaign: safety, inclusion and wellbeing. Unite for IUSG’s three goals are safety, health and sustainability.
Chism said his time in Congress provides him the technical experience to know how to help students through IUSG. Seibert said he sees inexperience with IUSG as an asset because it gives him a unique outsider perspective.
Both tickets discussed IU’s decision to make masks optional starting March 4, although they had different thoughts on IUSG’s ability to deal with any student concerns about the expiring mask mandate.
Chism said if he was elected, he would encourage people to take COVID-19 seriously, but he doesn’t want to make any promises he can’t keep about changing mask mandates.
“We're also students at the end of the day,” Chism said. “I'm not going to sit up here and say that the administration is going to listen to everything that we say, because quite frankly, they're not going to. I think that we need to focus on students feeling safe.”
Flores said as advocates for students, IUSG can put pressure on IU to find solutions for high-risk students even if it can’t establish new COVID-19 policies.
Seibert and Pastore said it is critical they always remain approachable and accessible to students and serve as a liaison between students and faculty.
“We are voices that the administration will be listening to, out of all of these students,” Pastore said. “It is our job to advocate for you. It's our job to listen.”
All candidates agreed on the importance of addressing the strained relationship between IU and Bloomington and working to be on the same page with issues like COVID-19 and sexual assault.
“We have so much overlap and shared goals, it doesn't make much sense to be so conflicting,” Seibert said. “We need to open up those lines of communication with the city so that we can tackle our goals.”
The candidates also agreed on the need to reach out to multicultural organizations to cultivate a more diverse, inclusive environment on campus. Flores and Chism discussed the work Congress has done to increase the number of multicultural representatives and be more welcoming and caring.
“We need to focus on just really just getting along with each other as people first,” Chism said. “We all have our differences, but at the end of the day, we're all students. Rehumanizing IUSG is the best way to go about that.”