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By Mary Fan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 20, 1998

Davidson scolds ASUA officials


Ian Mayer
Arizona Daily Wildcat

ASUA Candidates (from right) Patrick Williams, Cisco Aguilar, Mary Brandenberger, Brain Rosensteel, and Tara Taylor applaud during yesterday's Meet the Candidates Forum in the Rincon Room at the Memorial Student Center. All eight candidates introduced themselves and answered questions from a panel of five students.

Associated Students President Gilbert Davidson last night criticized two ASUA officials for using an election forum to accuse executive candidates of not doing enough research on campaign issues.

"I think they should have refrained from doing that," Davidson said. "That's not something ASUA officers either elected or appointed should be involved in."

ASUA Sen. Summer Katzenbach and Escort Service Director Brian Melvin attacked administrative vice presidential candidates Jason Hand and Michael Benveniste and presidential candidate Joseph Sitt, accusing them of not knowing enough about the jobs they were running for or the issues they were running on.

Katzenbach and Melvin were the only students to ask the candidates questions during the meet-the-candidates forum's call to the audience.

Davidson said he did not condone the public candidate attack by current ASUA officials. He added, however, extensive issue research, especially on a candidate's platform topics, is critical in a campaign.

"If you're going to talk about an issue you better know what the issues are," Davidson said.

Responding to Benveniste's goal to bring together a fragmented campus community, Sen. Summer Katzenbach said the administrative vice president's job is to oversee clubs and services, not embark on a poetic crusade for unity.

"I feel extremely concerned because I feel you are confused about your job duties as administrative vice-president," Katzenbach told Benveniste, a political science junior. "It is not in your job description to bond the community together and create this feeling of love."

Benveniste, however, reiterated that the campus is fragmented and sorely needs more communication. He said he wanted to make better communication part of the job.

Katzenbach said she is worried clubs and services will suffer if the administrative vice president strays from the job description.

Melvin said Benveniste and Hand, a mechanical engineering junior, had not contacted him, and therefore had not done sufficient research.

"Both of you said you know the issues and talked the directors, but I haven't heard from either of you guys," Melvin said.

Hand and Benveniste acknowledged they had not spoken with him.

Hand, however, said he had called Melvin and left messages, but that Melvin had not called him back. Hand said he had contacted directors of ASUA services who said their programs need to be publicized more - an issue on his platform. He added he had talked with eight or nine directors but hadn't had time to catch up to Melvin yet.

Earlier, in a brief speech, Benveniste had said, "I studied the issues carefully."

Melvin also berated Sitt, a finance junior, for suggesting the ASUA Escort Service get rid of their single van and rent several others to save money and have a larger fleet.

"I have not heard of your attempts to contact me, nor did I know your name," Melvin told Sitt. "How can you attack how we spend our money when you haven't talked to us?"

Sitt said he got his Escort Service information from an unidentified source in the ASUA office.

"Probably, I should have contacted you," Sitt said.

In a campaign speech, Ryan Rosensteel, administrative vice presidential candidate and molecular and cellular biology and political science sophomore said he wants to limit his goals to his job description.

The forum, which was held in the Memorial Student Union, opened with speeches from the candidates.

Following their speeches, a panel of student representatives grilled candidates on topics from affirmative action to student retention rates.

Rolene McMillan, a representative from UA's Native American Resource Center, told executive vice presidential candidates that a recently introduced state anti-affirmative action measure threatened American Indian retention.

She said the transition from reservation to college is rough and minority programs help smooth the transition.

"It's like jumping into a pack of wolves," she said.

Executive vice president candidate Mary Brandenberger, a junior studying English and journalism, did not take a stance on the issue, while candidate Cisco Aguilar said he opposed the measure.

"I am against the bill and I hope it fails," said Cisco Aguilar, an executive vice president candidate and accounting and finance junior.

He said he wants to draft a Senate resolution against it.

"It's a tool for retention," Aguilar said.

Retention was an issue raised by both the panel and the candidates.

Presidential candidates Tara Taylor, Patrick Williams and Joseph Sitt deplored UA's 51 percent graduation rate - only 1 in 4 students graduates within six years.

Sitt said the low number showed the university was not doing enough to keep students in school.

"There's not enough outreach at the UA," Sitt said.

Taylor, a political science and public management junior, said she hopes to streamline UA's advising system by studying a university report on retention.

She said she wanted more advising for students.

"Students have enough to worry about coming to the big, new campus," Taylor said. "They shouldn't have to go in search of advising."

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