April 25, 2019 | 56° F

Days before RUSA elections candidates make final remarks

Photo by Casey Ambrosio |

The Rutgers University Student Assembly held a debate in which four platforms discussed their qualifications and why they should be the organization's new governing body. Voting begins Monday at midnight and continues through Tuesday at 11:45 p.m.

Candidates for president and vice president for the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) 2018 Spring Election spent Thursday night debating issues at Rutgers and how their platforms would go about fixing them.

Four platforms are running in the election this year. Each one carries a unique message and focuses on particular areas of student life that it thinks need the most attention and change.

UKnighted is led by presidential candidate Jessica Tuazon, a School of Engineering junior, and vice-presidential candidate Seth Wasserman, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. The platform is focused on three main points: inclusion, mental health and safety. The platform seeks to increase representation of students from diverse backgrounds, expand University mental-health resources, create inter-student support groups and increase campus safety resources.

The party also seeks to make changes that will promote civic engagement, tuition affordability and improvements to the school’s attendance policy, according to its campaign website. 

UnScrewRU is headed by presidential candidate Adeel Ahmed, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, and vice-presidential candidate Nimra Jaqob. It is a platform that seeks to improve the Rutgers student experience in the areas of mental health, affordability and protest policy. 

Through fundraising for the Center for Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and  Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and increasing student resource awareness, the platform hopes to provide a larger portion of Rutgers’ students with the mental health services they need.

The candidates also strongly support a wage increase to $15 an hour to help make college more affordable and change campus advocacy policy to help students be safer while voicing their campus concerns, according to the site. 

Rutgers United, led by presidential candidate Vlad Carrasco, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, and vice-presidential candidate Jessica Resnick, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, maintains a platform that seeks to end mental health stigma and sexual violence, and to promote diversity and inclusion, according to its campaign website. 

Its candidates want to increase cooperation between student organizations fighting assault and violence, and increase student training to help combat sexual-assault and rape culture on campus. The platform advocates reforming CAPS and increasing mental-health awareness resources for students, according to its site. 

One Rutgers is fronted by presidential candidate Suzanne Link, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, and vice-presidential candidate Jaidev Phadke, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. The platform is focused on connecting students with the resources they need to be successful at Rutgers. Its candidates want to make students more aware of the resources available to them and increase cooperation between different student organizations, according to its campaign website. 

One Rutgers also has a focus on affordability, according to its site. It seeks to lobby for more grant opportunities and outside aid to lower tuition costs for students. The platform also seeks to improve student safety by testing the University's waters and increasing the lighting both on and off campus. 

Candidates were asked questions by three RUSA members acting as moderators. Each moderator had served in the assembly already, and asked specific questions to the candidates.

For the first 30 minutes, the moderators gave presidential and vice-presidential candidates 2 minutes each to answer questions about their qualifications and accomplishments to date, and how their work qualifies them to lead student government at Rutgers. 

Candidates spoke about their experiences in the assembly and in various other governing bodies, such as the school governing councils. They also faced questions about their voting records and how they can serve the student community given their previous advocacy for certain legislation. 

After a 10-minute recess, candidates returned to the floor where they were asked to explain — in 1 minute — how and why the other candidates on their ticket are qualified for the positions they are seeking. 

Previous RUSA and other governing-body experience was among the responses. 

The RUSA Spring 2018 elections will begin on Monday at midnight and will continue until Tuesday at 11:45 p.m. Students will have the opportunity to vote for the president, vice president and treasurer — as well as the representatives and senators from certain campuses. The full list can be found on RUSA’s website. An email will be sent to all students instructing them on how to vote. 

Andrew Petryna

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