Student Government executive alliance candidates discuss platform points at debate

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

Executive alliance candidates Perez-Vasquez, Bautista-Ptomey, Murphy-Agbassi and Burg-Vahalik gathered Monday night in the Student Activity Center auditorium to debate topics from Riverside transportation to sexual misconduct.

The debate, hosted by Sanika Nayak, editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan, presented the candidates’ platforms and informed the Texan’s editorial board on their candidate endorsement.

Presidential candidate Albert Perez and vice presidental candidate Raymond Vasquez’s platform is based on improving student experience, increased student body involvement in student government and eliminating sexual assault and hazing in Greek life, they said.

When asked about creating a space for sexual assault survivors on campus, Vasquez said the alliance wanted to encourage communication among peers for support.

“We believe that a lot of organizations focus on talking to rather than facilitating a communication channel between students,” unspecified business sophomore Vasquez said. “We quite honestly believe that if we’re able to facilitate a roundtable with survivors, we could get perspectives and we could get an understanding of the true problem, and how to formulate a real attack on the problem as how we could eliminate sexual assault from the University of Texas.”

Presidential candidate Edwin Bautista and vice presidential candidate Addison Ptomey aim to address cost of attendance, affordable housing, food insecurity, social diversity, access to mental health resources and sustainability and climate change resiliency on campus, they said.

Ptomey said the alliance plans to support sexual assault survivors on campus through offering more resources and supplementary training to students, along with appointing a student volunteer as the face of the Title IX office to make it more approachable.

“We need to be providing those students with the information at the beginning,” said Ptomey, a public affairs and architecture graduate student. “Let them know where the Title IX offices are located, what services are actually available and how to get in contact (with) and actually use those resources.”

Presidential candidate Leland Murphy and vice presidential candidate Isabel Agbassi said their platform calls for increased wages for student workers on campus and using the SG budget to invest into the student emergency fund, community meals and other community operations.

The alliance also wants to address transportation issues by reforming the UT Night Rides program to expand past campus and West Campus and work with Riverside student advocates, Murphy said.

“Oftentimes, underrepresented students just aren’t being prioritized by the administration and (are) put on the backburner in terms of other projects, when clearly this should be at the forefront because this is … hindering people’s access to education, the basic reason why all of us are here,” public health sophomore Agbassi said.

Presidential candidate Samantha Burg and vice presidential candidate Thomas Vahalik’s platform focuses on amplifying minority student’s voices, unifying social settings around campus, improving West Campus lighting, breaking down mental health stigmas and increasing transportation system and campus accessibility, they said.

“I think diversity is very important to have as a student government,” health and society junior Vahalik said.