By Emily Shane, Staff Writer
Thursday night, DCGA hosted a presidential, vice president debate, for which there are four students running. Below are their responses to questions from their fellow students.
The first question of the debate came from Kyle Gasaway ‘16. He asked what the first action candidates would take the day after being elected.
Senator Haley Jones ‘17, a vice presidential candidate, said she would “go and immerse [herself] with faces I don’t know,” in order to let students know “I’m available and will always be available.”
Treasurer Steven Hix ‘16, the other vice presidential candidate said he would like to make DCGA a “governing council” — currently, he says, DCGA can only make “recommendations” to the administration. He would also change the housing committee from an advisory committee to a governing board.
Speaker Meghan Pearce ‘16, one of the presidential candidates, said she would begin by “reviewing the DCGA of this year.” She explained that “by looking in the past, we can move forward.” Pearce also supports a leadership development program within DCGA.
Senator Pushkal Mehrish ‘15, the second presidential candidate said “One of my biggest things is that DCGA doesn’t necessarily have the right idea of what students want.” He proposed posting biweekly or weekly video on facebook to explain what DCGA is doing and “get comments from, basically, all of campus.”
Senator Leslie Sastre ‘14, a community senator for La Fuerza Latina said the organization “received harsh, negative comments instead of constructive criticism” during the reserve fund process. She asked what would the candidates would do differently if “another marginalized group came up with a proposal.”
Pearce explained that as speaker she couldn’t vote so “this year was a lot of listening for [her].” She said, “I think we did great work,” but “I think we missed some things.”
Mehrish said he supported the La Fuerza Latina Proposal and if another club was as organized and large as La Fuerza Latina, “I don’t see a problem giving them a space.”
Hix said he tried to work closely with La Fuerza and “I think we all did ultimately want the same things.” In the future, he supports “more direct contact and accessibility” from the senators, and wants “constructive conversations” instead of “yelling at each other from opposite sides of the chamber.”
Jones answered that she would like more engagement for longer periods of time, because “interactions with La Fuerza members or representatives from The Roost were limited.”
Senator Jose Garcia ‘14, the second La Fuerza Latina community senator, asked if the candidates “[voted] from personal interests or what the student body wanted?”
Hix said “when I personally voted in Senate, it was a result of the conversations I had with my constituents.” He said, “I vote primarily on how I interpret my constituent’s needs.”
Jones said she “[makes] it a point to have an informed vote.” To do so, she talks with the person who wrote the proposal and her peers. She explained that she was originally in favor of the smoking ban, but after “having long conversations with [her] peers,” voted against it.
Mehrish said “My first concern is to understand exactly what I’m voting on.” Then he votes based on his knowledge and what he thinks students want.
Pearce who did not vote as Speaker, but voted as a senator last academic year, said her job is to represent students. She supports “servant leadership” and believes that “DCGA should be a community representative.”
The Denisonian asked about race, gender and diversity problems and how the candidates would make Denison a more inclusive campus.
Mehrish said that not everyone on campus faces the same issue, and “while there is no one solution to fix the issues on campus, the important thing is to understand […] that everyone faces the same issues in different ways.”
Pearce said, “A lot of what we are missing is respect for one another” and her goal is to “build bridges, not walls.”
Jones said “Our interactions with each other have to go beyond 4:30 p.m.” She added, “I think I can mirror inclusivity with my interactions.”
Hix said he would like to see “certain GE’s moved to freshman year.” He thinks that it is “very important that we begin to address these issues as early and often as possible.” He proposed having forums to create these discussion. Hix said a problem he sees is that “senators only get feedback from their friends.”
Alexandra Cheney ‘17 asked how have/will you be involved in the past and future with the LGBTQA community?
Pearce said Outlook is “small but mighty,” and a great group for educating campus. She said, “I am absolutely an ally of the community” and it “goes back to building bridges in the community.” Though not stated at the debate, Pearce supports gender neutral housing.
On Outlook, Mehrish said, “I haven’t attended a meeting.” However, “understanding that every faction on campus has the own issues on campus, they can be tackled in the same way.” He also said he supports gender neutral housing.
Hix said these are a “set of issues [he’s] very familiar and passionate about.” He told the story of a close high school friend who “belonged to that community and was treated poorly as a result.” He said he is “now like a card carrying member of the Human Rights Campaign.” He wants an expansion of gender neutral housing.
Jones said she “identifies as ally” and was involved in the LGBTQA community in high school. She said she is “open to coming to Outlook.” Jones also supports gender neutral housing.
Davide Rangel-Hernandez ’16 asked about overcoming apathy and getting more students involved with student government.
Hix said he would divide each class into groups and assign them a representative. He said the “biggest problem is not being able to put a name and a face to DCGA.”
Jones said “Part of student apathy comes from students feeling like they don’t have an identity in DCGA.” She wants to meet students out of Senate, and said, “I will meet you where you are and listen.”
Pearce said students feel that DCGA is “scary, its hard to talk in that environment.” She said “its not okay” that people feel that way. Her goal is to bridge the gap between DCGA and the students.
Merish said “student apathy stems from fact that students outside of DCGA are woefully unaware of what is happening in Senate.” He supports “small steps like biweekly videos” in order to keep students informed.
Students can vote on MyDenison on Monday, April 14, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Again, the candidates are:
Meghan Pearce ‘16
Pushkal Mehrish ‘15
Steven Hix ‘16
Haley Jones ‘17
Photo courtesy of Nelson Dow ’16.