Starting the conversation

With+the+rush+of+support+for+the+social+media+campaign+%23WakeUpWSU%2C+students+are+making+multicultural+issues+a+priority.+ASWSU+presidential+candidates+answered+related+questions+at+the+Multicultural+Debate.

With the rush of support for the social media campaign #WakeUpWSU, students are making multicultural issues a priority. ASWSU presidential candidates answered related questions at the Multicultural Debate.

Candidates for the ASWSU presidency met Thursday night in the CUB Auditorium for a debate on multicultural issues.

This debate, unlike the last one on Feb. 18 where tickets discussed their general goals, explored the candidates’ dedication to and interest in servicing underrepresented students on campus.

Adam Crouch and Kyle Geiger focused on their initiative to make student involvement more integrative through face-to-face conversations and broader social media impact.

Nathan Cherzan and Jacob Montaño focused on their history with ASWSU and how the student government has addressed multicultural issues on campus.

Prewritten, unaltered questions submitted by 12 ASWSU committees were presented to both tickets before an open discussion concluded the debate.

The first of these questions asked how the tickets will grow and encourage multicultural student organizations to lead conferences.

Montaño said the current staff was about 75 percent Greek, because that corresponded to application numbers. Montaño and Cherzan said this needs to change and include more leaders from other communities. But that can’t happen unless more individuals begin applying, Montaño said.

Crouch recognized the importance of freshmen, and said the change starts at “Alive!”

The second question asked how each ticket will handle challenges faced by the LGBTQ community.

Crouch said that he intends to help find a secure location for the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) that was asked to relocate outside of the CUB.

Cherzan noted making transgender bathrooms more available all across campus. He noted that there is a gender-neutral bathroom available in the CUB, but recognizes it is hard to find and would also like to see them implemented in every new building on campus.

“It’s ridiculous,” Cherzan said. “You should not have to walk three floors to use a trans bathroom.”

The third and fourth questions asked how each ticket understands privilege and how they plan to promote future multicultural conferences.

Both tickets seek to implement more representation for underrepresented groups through these conferences. Crouch and Geiger intend to implement a diversity committee. Montaño and Cherzan want to see more multicultural ASWSU leaders step up and become more thoroughly involved in conference workshops.

Crouch and Geiger continued to stress working toward hearing more students’ voices and incorporating those comments in their future decisions.

Montaño and Cherzan said they recognize privilege comes with not being able to recognize what it is. Montaño argued that each person is privileged to be at a public university and therefore everyone on campus should be viewed in the same light.

The last three questions tackled the recent racial incident that occurred within the Greek community at Phi Delta Theta, incorporation of more multicultural staff members, and how either ticket will continue to stay involved in the multicultural community if they lose.

Crouch and Geiger stressed more conversation and creating written plans to address serious issues. Both said that these issues cannot be completely prevented; therefore, an accountability plan needs to be put in place so all leaders – current and future – will know how to properly handle the situation.

Not being a member of the Greek community, Montaño stressed that the issues are not solely Greek issues, but must be addressed by every community on campus.

Crouch also emphasized this point, saying it is important to make Greek members culturally competent, but the problem extends across campus and applies to all students.

Each ticket said they have plans in motion to further incorporate multicultural staff members within any organization they are a part of or have been involved with, who will continue to be a part of their lives after the elections.

In the conclusion of the formal debate, students addressed the tickets directly. These questions asked how the tickets plan on celebrating women of color, if any of the ticket members have been through diversity training, why neither ticket were involved with Wake Up WSU, how transgender identified individuals would be properly treated by university professors and if either of the tickets would be focusing so much on multicultural issues if Wake Up WSU had not made a statement.

All of these questions were answered over the course of half an hour.

Cherzan said there would be a significant focus on multicultural issues with or without WakeUpWSU making a statement.

Geiger, however, said the WakeUpWSU campaign brought the issue to ASWSU’s attention

“ASWSU would not have known about it if it had not gone viral,” Geiger said.

Crouch supported this by stressing how much ASWSU needs his five-pillar plan.

The elections will be held on March 11. Voting ends that afternoon.