The Associated Students of Michigan State University held a debate between three candidates running for ASMSU president on Monday, April 12 prior to the General Assembly elections this week.
The three candidates are environmental economics and agribusiness management junior Nikunj Agarwal, international relations and political theory and constitutional democracy junior Georgia Frost, and political science sophomore Julian Trevino.
ASMSU Chief of Staff Andrea Blair moderated the debate. Each candidate was asked 10 questions and was given 90 seconds to answer. The questions covered two main topics; qualities of a good student leader and the future of ASMSU if the candidate is elected.
One of the main topics of debate was how each candidate would work to represent the student body during MSU’s return to campus in the fall.
Trevino said that his first priority as president would be to create open hours about every two weeks for students to talk with ASMSU representatives in person while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and campus guidelines to build trust between students and ASMSU.
“Because I feel like a really great challenge that it's going to face for students is that transition,” he said. “A lot of us have been off campus for more than a year, and some of us have been at MSU but haven't been on campus yet.”
Agarwal agreed with Trevino on having weekly workshops between students and ASMSU and added that he would like to add more mental health resources for students transitioning back to in-person learning and initiatives for international students to lessen their culture shock when they arrive in East Lansing.
“I think students are the greatest assets MSU has, perhaps, and this university exists only because of them,” Agarwal said. “And I'm sure most of us are excited to be back on campus or those who are excited to see more people. I think there's going to be a sense of anxiety to see more people around because we've been at home for more than a year and a half.”
Frost said that her emphasis as president would be on student engagement once the campus is populated again. She said that she wants to work with the division of student affairs to ensure that students get the engagement opportunities they want.
“I think that a lot of first-year students and second years who have never seen campus before will be really interested in how they can get back involved in those sorts of extracurricular and helpful academic opportunities outside of the classroom that can be assisting to them once they come to campus,” Frost said.
The three candidates expressed a desire to build a stronger connection with the Michigan State administration and local government officials to increase its representation for students.
Frost said that her top priority in office would be to make sure that everyone understands their role in ASMSU before the fall to increase the amount of advocacy work by ASMSU.
“I think it's going to be important for advocacy that the Office of the President is strong because what this means is that the General Assembly will be able to rely upon us to support them,” she said. “And then by that consequence, our advocacy will also be strong.”
Agarwal said that his top priority as the president of ASMSU would be to make sure that all student services are ready to go for when students return to campus in the fall.
“We need to extensively get out to the student body to understand and to help them with our services,” he said. “We know students are going to come on campus for the first time. They wouldn't know what safe ride is, or what a blue book is and what iClickers are.”
Trevino said that his top priority would be to ensure that ASMSU is representative of the community and helps build a strong community on Michigan State’s campus.
“I really want ASMSU to be there for the student body, especially with the transition from online to in person, the year of immense struggle, immense inequity because of the pandemic," he said. "It's really essential that ASMSU becomes a home, it becomes a place where students can feel comfortable and interact with ASMSU.”
The Office of the President elections will take place over the next three days. The 58th General Assembly will vote on the next student body president on Tuesday, April 13.
The three-day voting period includes the election of the new vice president for finance and operations on April 13, the new vice president for academic affairs and vice president for governmental affairs on April 14 and the new vice president for internal administration and vice president for student allocations on April 15.
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