Candidates debate vision for ASUA

By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Josh Shapiro announced yesterday that if elected, he would call for sweeping changes to the internal structure of ASUA.

Shapiro spoke to a crowd of more than 50 students at yesterday's Arizona Daily Wildcat-sponsored debate.

The Associated Students of the University if Arizona have not been doing a good job of representing the students, and the senate needs to be changed to make the organization more responsive to the students' needs, he said.

Shapiro proposed that students vote for one head senator, and that the senate be expanded to 18 members, who would be elected from within UA colleges.

"Having representation from each college will diversify thoughts and ideas," he said.

The other presidential candidates spoke of more moderate changes they would make to the internal structure of ASUA.

Amanda Meaker said she wants to improve collaboration and interaction among the different branches of ASUA.

She said she plans on holding monthly meetings among all the different groups to ensure that everyone in ASUA knows what is going on in every branch of the organization.

Alistair Chapman, presidential candidate, shared the same sentiments, saying that by having the three different branches work together, the efficiency and productivity of ASUA would be increased.

Brian Raphel, a presidential candidate, said he simply wants to change the name of ASUA so it would not include ASU.

Melanie Rainer, the ASUA executive vice president and debate attendee, said she was disappointed in how little the candidates knew about ASUA's internal structure.

Rainer said that none of the candidates have even talked to ASUA President J.P Benedict to determine the feasibility of their proposals.

Specifically, Rainer said Shapiro's proposal wouldn't work, citing how ASUA had to extend the candidate packet deadline to get enough people to run for senate earlier this month.

But Shapiro said he would get more students interested and aware of the senate by increasing student representation. At Arizona State University, the senate is structured in the same way, with one student representative from each college.

Tuition and the student activity fee were also topics of the debate. The candidates said tuition increases are inevitable, but they hope they become more predictable.

But Raphel offered a different solution. He said President Peter Likins should work on gaining more corporate sponsorships for the individual colleges instead of looking at tuition to gain revenue.

Shapiro emphasized that students should lobby for greater class availability rather than tuition increases. All candidates were in favor of a student activity fee but said they believed it should be lower than the proposed $15 to 20.

Meaker defended the fact that she has only been on campus for two years, after Daniel Scarpinato, one of the moderators of the debate, said that in previous years, candidates were older.

She said she has seen all the changes that the UA has undergone for the past eight years since her brother attended the UA for graduate and undergraduate school. She also said by talking to people who have been here longer, she was able to gain different perspectives on the issues.

Primaries are Wednesday and Thursday. Students can vote online at