Presidential and vice presidential candidates for the UWM Student Association all voiced concern over the Governor Walker’s proposed budget cuts to the UW System in a campus debate Thursday, but several challengers argued for a more aggressive approach in getting the SA message out and connecting with faculty.
One presidential candidate, Franco Ferrante, focused his argument around affordability. He wants to make sure that, despite the uncertain consequences of the budget, UWM students remain prideful of their school and education.
“Our position in the community relies on our ability to provide an affordable education,” Ferrante said.
All candidates had detailed goals for what they want to achieve in the 2015-2016 school year. They all have a high focus on outreach to students and ensuring that the student voice is being heard on the government level.
“It’s too often on these committees that we do not relay information or feel comfortable enough to speak up,” Presidential candidate Mike Sportiello said, “It’s all about changing the culture and I’m all about that.”
While the budget cuts remained a pressing issue in each candidate’s debates, many also discussed the importance of bridging connections between students and faculty.
“To effectively bring about change takes time,” Ryan Sorenson said in his opening statement.
Sorenson is the current President of the Student Association. He based his platform around vision and a better UWM for all students. Sorenson is worried about what the proposed UW budget cuts will do to the $1.8 billion in economic revenue UWM generates each year.
“These cuts are going to have a scary impact on this campus,” Sorenson said.
Vice President of Academic Affairs candidate Brandi Hernandez believes there needs to be more connections between the UWM faculty and the SA when it comes to the budget.
“I think that a lot of the less populated majors will be cut,” Hernandez said, “It will affect diversity in those areas.”
Presidential candidate Sportiello plans to work with student organizations, as well as the diverse community and faculty committees to ensure that college remains affordable.
“Our students are worth investing in,” Sportiello said. “We need to secure our education.”
Among those who debated were presidential candidates Ryan Sorenson (junior), Mike Sportiello (sophomore), and Franco Ferrante (junior). The candidate running for re-election of Vice President of Student Affairs is Evan Braun (junior), and the candidate running for Vice President of Academic Affairs is Brandi Hernandez (sophomore).
Each vice presidential candidate was offered two minutes to answer questions without rebuttal. The presidential candidates were offered two minutes to answer, plus 30-second rebuttals, and a one minute closing.
For the most part, the presidential candidates were in agreement with each other. If there were rebuttals, they were to reiterate their platforms.
One minor argument broke out between candidates Sorenson and Ferrante over accessibility with outreach to students involving e-mail. Ferrante proposed that the SA should have more power to reach out over e-mail where Sorenson believed those red-tape policies in place are a state issue. Both Ferrante and Sorenson were inaccurate; no such rule exists at the state level.
The Student Association at UWM is run and elected by students that meets with faculty boards, committees, and state legislatures to help improve the student experience at UWM.