Downtown presidential candidates debate tuition, engagement

Downtown students gathered at ASU’s journalism school Thursday for what turned into a heated debate among student government presidential contenders.

Some of the most important topics discussed by the candidates included funding for the Associated Students of ASU Downtown and how state budget cuts have caused an increase in tuition.

“Tuition increases are inevitable,” journalism sophomore and write-in candidate Andres Cano said.

David Barkardjiev, a stand-in for presidential candidate Joseph Grossman, disagreed and said he and Grossman wouldn’t let that happen.

“[Grossman] just doesn’t want to roll over on his back and let it happen,” Bakardjiev said. “We need to fight them ... It’s not inevitable.”

Nursing freshman and write-in candidate Diana Inzunza defended her platform, and said rolling over and giving up is something she hasn’t done.

“I’m not by any means saying I’m giving up,” Inzunza said. “But to think it will be stopped is unrealistic.”

Bakardjiev fired back: “Let’s just raise [tuition] 25 percent.”

Cano dismissed Barkadjiev’s remark and said Barkadjiev has misled Downtown students.

“My opponent to my left has gone to Downtown students and has told students it’s going to change,” Cano said. “It’s not going to happen, David.”

Cano suggests an interactive feature online that will allow students to see where ASASUD money is going.

Inzunza pointed out that such a feature already exists on the student government’s website, but her opponent said it didn’t accurately account for all the money.

“ASASUD hasn’t been completely transparent,” Cano said. “Not everything is up there.”

Candidates were then asked how they would get students engaged with campus life, something Barkardjiev didn’t think ASASUD was currently doing well.

“We have the media aspect, Facebook and emails, but that only goes so far,” he said. “We need to start going out there and shaking the students’ hands.”

Inzunza agreed that as president she and ASASUD would think outside the box, but maintained that the current government was doing a good job at hosting events on campus.

To that remark, a student in the audience shouted “For what, three hours?”

Bakardjiev said he and Grossman want to increase the amount of events on campus and the amount of student outreach, and believe the current government is failing.

“Maybe you should be engaged more,” Inzunza said to Bakardjiev.

Cano said the Downtown campus is a different environment than Tempe, which is something that can work to their advantage.

Inzunza said she is running because she really loves the Downtown campus.

“I see so much potential and I want to be a part of that growth,” she said.

Cano said he also wants to be part of that growth.

“There is work that needs to be done, and there is a disconnect between students and student government,” Cano said.

Barkardjiev said he wants to make that change.

“Me and Joe care deeply about this campus and we want to see some change,” he said.

The heated debate left students with a better idea of the candidate’s platforms.

“We have a lot of good contenders,” health science freshman Brittany Barbarisi said.

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