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Tempe USG executive tickets debate transparency, the Arizona Legislature and sexual assault

While the four Tempe executive tickets agreed on mending past administration's failures, they differed in their strategies for strengthening relationships with the State Legislature at Tuesday night's a debate

Illustration published on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The State Press and The Blaze radio station co-hosted a Tempe USG debate between candidates on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Illustration published on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The State Press and The Blaze radio station co-hosted a Tempe USG debate between candidates on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Executive ticket candidates for Tempe's Undergraduate Student Government stressed the importance of having a transparent and open government in Tuesday night's debate.

The TUSG executive ticket debate was hosted by ASU's The Blaze Radio and The State Press. All four Tempe tickets participated in the hour long debate, with members of the Pruter and DeGravina tickets answering questions in The Blaze Radio studio and members of the Benedict and Smith tickets calling in their answers.

One issue each ticket agreed on was a solving transparency issues within TUSG. The organization has had history of not updating minutes on its website, a violation of the organization's bylaws. Candidates at the debate acknowledged past failures and pledged to fix them moving forward.

Related: The Forks Estate: Undergraduate Student Government Elections 2017

Kanin Pruter, candidate for president on the Pruter 2017 ticket, proposed the idea of bi-weekly town hall meetings. 

“I can pledge that, in terms of transparency and accountability, the purpose of our campaign is to make sure that we are engaging with every single student at our university," Pruter said, "And we really want to make sure that we have every opportunity possible to actually go out there and engage with the student body."

Aundrea DeGravina, presidential candidate on the DeGravina 2017 ticket, said she experienced the transparency problems in the past.  

"That is something that I experienced when I was the chair of the appropriation committee in USG," DeGravina said. "A lot of students had a lot of questions about who was getting the funding … so we actually started having the appropriations hearings be public, so I think it’s really important and I think that it is something that we can easily do."

In the same vein, the Smith 2017 ticket said the problem is rooted in the failure to update the website.

“One of the awesome things that we would like to do as an executive ticket and office is basically make all the minutes public on our website, and making sure that students know what going to be discussed what issues are going to be brought up and also just letting them know about the meeting themselves,” said Brian Smith, presidential candidate on the Smith 2017 ticket.

Brittany Benedict, candidate for president on the Benedict 2017 ticket, said transparency also meant explaining the minutes to people.

“We need to not only tell people the how, but the why we are doing things I think that’s super important so that we can create an open dialogue,” Benedict said.

Although most of the tickets deflected on the question of whether or not they support Gov. Doug Ducey’s recently released budget, all tickets touched on the importance of rebuilding and strengthening student relationships with the Arizona State Legislature.

DeGravina said the ticket had plans to “build and develop relationships” by heading to the Arizona Capitol.

“What we plan to do is to go down to the Capitol and shake hands with the legislators,” DeGravina said. “And build and develop relationships because these are just so important to forge in these particular situations.”

Pruter said he did not support the governor’s budget and wanted to introduce a pen pal program for students to be present at the State Capitol.

"What this pen pal program would be is that, as President, my administration we get to create a contract for our directors," Pruter said. "And part of that contract is going to say as part of your job it's going to be required that you reach out and engage with one member of the State Legislature starting at the beginning of the year or when you are hired as a director." 

All of the tickets proposed new programs to increase the quality of health on campus, with the Benedict ticket proposing plans to bring together already existing groups, including a new USG position that would deal solely with issue of sexual assault prevention.

"Part of the reason we would like to create this new director of intimate initiatives is because I’ve been working on topics such as sexual assault prevention, mental health, fitness and nutrition, I would have really liked to devote more of my time to sexual assault prevention," Benedict said. "We need to bring all of the Sun Devil community together as one so we are all working together rather than working on our own separate entities and not really making a whole lot of huge progress."

The Smith ticket proposed an idea to have counseling services train USG members to be able to facilitate counseling services to constituents.

"We are really excited and think this is an awesome way for students to be able to connect to an individual on campus that they know better than they know a counselor from counseling services or even a faculty member from classes or from any other area of influences," Smith said.

Reach the reporters at and or follow @isaacwindeschef and @mitchellatencio on Twitter.

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