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Write-in candidate's goal: Fix ASUA, listen to students

By Eric Swedlund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 23, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

"Students feel that the university takes care of them less than ever." Vene Aguirre ASUA administrative vice-presidential post write-in candidate

As a write-in candidate for ASUA's administrative vice-presidential post, Vene Aguirre welcomes a less-traditional campaign with student-driven change as her platform.

Aguirre, a political science junior, said she entered the race to push student concerns rather than her political aspirations -a new direction that she wants to steer student government at the University of Arizona.

Aguirre said she decided to enter the Associated Students' election process as a write-in after she learned that her opposition, Viviane Safrin, was uncontested for administrative vice president and had violated campaign policies.

Safrin, a psychology, English literature and history sophomore, violated ASUA's election code by sending out advertising letters prior to the official campaign kick-off.

"My sense of justice kicked in," Aguirre said, adding that she would not have chosen to run of her own volition, but was angry at ASUA because she felt it had lost interest in student concerns.

"I started rethinking my apathy," she said. "It was really my job to fix ASUA if I thought it was wrong."

Running as a write-in shows that she feels students must be given a choice, Aguirre said.

Anthony Hill, ASUA elections commissioner, said becoming a write-in candidate puts Aguirre at a definite disadvantage and will require more hard work.

Hill said Aguirre has put a lot of effort into her campaign and wants to stand on par with all other candidates.

"She is an underdog, but people rally behind the underdog," he said. "We'll see what happens in the election."

Aguirre's campaign is trying to address what she calls a "tangible feeling" that the university is not doing anything for students.

"Students feel that the university takes care of them less than ever," Aguirre said.

Aguirre, from Nogales, Ariz., has a political thread running through her family history. Her grandfather served as Santa Cruz county supervisor for 16 years.

While she was in high school, Aguirre attended a United Nations conference in New York and spoke in the general assembly. She focused on students in her speech and how to make to most of opportunities.

She was co-chair for Nogales High School's senate, a group that included administrators, teachers, parents and students. She also served as the student representative to the school board while in high school.

Aguirre said although the ASUA campaign has been exhausting, she encountered many students who share some of her concerns.

"I want my campaign to be about all students," she said. "It is so easy to fractionalize this campus. There really is no 'normal student,' so I am trying to talk to anybody who will listen."

The student body needs an administrative vice president to make the students aware of all the available resources, Aguirre said.

One of the problems Aguirre saw with ASUA was the apparent lack of accomplishment.

"Nothing has been done this year - it's all talk," she said. "(ASUA representatives) should be there out of a desire to serve the students."

She also wants to get in touch with groups that ASUA may have left out in the past and address some of what she feels to be the more important student concerns, such as health and child care.

Aguirre said she has confidence in her ability to stand as a good representative for the students.

"I can get the job done," she said. "I have enough of a sound foundation to know what the issues are."

Aguirre said she hopes running as a write-in shows students that change can be accomplished.

"I really want students to get out and vote," she said. "If I can get 50 people to vote who haven't voted before, I'll have made a difference."