ASUR Presidential Debate Kicks Off Voting Season

As the United States presidential primaries proceed, the University of Redlands also finds itself in election season. Because the current president, University of Redlands senior Jake Funk, is soon to graduate, ASUR will be in need of a new student body president. Rising seniors Anne Thorson and Emma Wade are the two candidates running for election.

At 9 p.m on Thursday, Feb. 11, ASUR hosted a debate, allowing Thorson and Wade to showcase their reasoning for wanting to be Student Body President. University of Redlands senior Emily Hoyt is the election commissioner and was the moderator for Thursday’s debate. Hoyt explained that the debate would consist of opening statements from both candidates, followed by written questions from the audience. She explained that all questions had to be applicable to both opponents, and must aim to educate the audience about the goals and values of the candidates.

In their opening statements, both Thorson and Wade outlined their goals as potential president, and each made her case as to why she was the right woman for the job.

Thorson explained in her opening statement that she has been involved in ASUR since her freshman year. She was senate representative for Melrose Hall as a freshman, and as a sophomore was elected as chair of the Senate, and sat on ASUR Cabinet. She emphasized that ASUR is the voice of the students, and would aim to make the organization more transparent in order for it to be an accessible tool for the entire student body.

“I have two major issues that I am very passionate about, and would like to accomplish next year on cabinet,” Thorson said. “The first is public safety on campus. A lot of people have felt unsafe over the last year, especially with the events that happened last semester, and I feel if Redlands is to be a home to us, we need to feel safe walking to and from class and walking home after long meetings. The second issue is sexual assault on campus. It is unacceptable that this has become such a national trend, and no one has really done anything about it. We need to make our reporting methods more widespread and known, and need to have more resources for the victims of sexual assault.”

Wade explained that although she has not had experience on ASUR cabinet, it is her experience as a campus leader and social activist that makes her a well-qualified candidate. Wade helped initiate and organize last semester’s forum on campus diversity and inclusion, and has experience coordinating and leading with the administration and student body. She emphasized the importance of making her presidency all about making Redlands an active community, and empowering people to go out and speak about issues that they feel are important.

“Through my presidency I would like to accomplish three overarching goals,” Wade said. “One, making certain that we have an inclusive community with which we can grow. Our education goes way outside the classroom and our community needs to support you. Two, I want to make sure that people in positions of power including myself if I am elected are held accountable to the promises that we make and the duties that come along with our jobs. Every student deserves to have their voice heard. And three, our school markets ourself as a green campus. We need to uphold these values. Eco Clamshells should be free for all students, the water waste needs to stop, and divestment should be a priority.”

After their opening statements, the candidates were asked questions on a wide variety of topics such as parking availability for students, LAF requirements, their ability to balance their extracurriculars, school work, and presidency, engaging apathetic students, and mental health resources on campus. It was clear that on some topics the candidates had similar stances, and on some their values differed.

When asked how they would deal with a situation where the student body’s opinion differs from their own, both candidates seemed to agree that after discussing the matter with the students and making sure their concerns are legitimate, they would be willing to compromise their own ideas for the sake of the students.

“If the student body’s opinion conflicts with my own, I would definitely make sure that there opinion is legitimate, but it is definitely my role to be the voice of the student body” Thorson stated. “I would put my own opinions aside to make sure the student body is happy, not just myself.”

Wade answered similarly.

“The first thing I would do is have a discussion with people who really hold true to those values that differ from mine, and come in with open ears and open mind and hear their side of the perspective and see how we can come to a common ground,” Wade said. “But if we can’t but I see this is a legitimate perspective and maybe I don’t have the same shared experience so can’t speak to this perspective, at the end of the day it is my duty to go ahead and represent that voice.”

When asked, “What is your opinion of Madeleine Albright’s statement ‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women’?” the two candidates each demonstrated a different set of values. Although they both identify as feminists, they answered the question rather differently and remained firm in their response.

“I am an absolute, hard core feminist, and absolutely agree with that [statement],” Wade said. “But I also think that there is a special place in hell for anyone who sees anybody in need of help and chooses to turn a blind eye.”

Wade proceeded to say that it is amazing that the next ASUR president will be a woman, and she is excited for more feminist movements to occur on campus. Thorson took the question in a different direction, yet still advocated for women’s rights.

“I am also a feminist but I tend to disagree [with that statement],” Thorson said. “I think you can’t condemn another woman for her opinions. That is completely defeating the purpose of feminism. We need to build each other up, not tear each other down. If we disagree, that’s okay, it’s just accepting all those things.”

Both candidates said they are prepared to be the next president of ASUR, and would be thrilled to take over the current president, University of Redlands senior Jake Funk’s responsibilities. Monday, Feb. 15, a link will be sent out to all students, allowing them to vote, and will remain live for three days. All members of the student body are encouraged to vote for their preferred candidate.

[Image courtesy of Joseph Serrano, Redlands Bulldog photographer]



  • Willow Higgins

    University of Redlands senior, Public Policy and English double major and previous Editor-in-Chief of the Redlands Bulldog. Higgins retired from her leadership position to study journalism abroad, and will return as a full-time reporter.