The ASUR president has the important task of being the chief representative of the student body. It is also an election in which the votes submitted have a noticeable impact on the result.
On Tuesday, the ASUR Presidential debate was held in the University Hall, giving the candidates the chance to make case for why they are the right choice for the position. The two candidates, Miner ‘20, and Konkimalla ‘20, spent the hour answering audience questions, discussing their platforms and addressing issues that are the biggest concerns to current University of Redlands students.
To start the debate, Konkimalla and Miner gave a quick introduction of themselves. Konkimalla, a Creative Writing major, said he is running for President because there are things he wants to do on campus and, “being President will make them a lot easier to do.” Miner, a Music Performance Major, as well as an ASUR social chair assistant director, said he would like to be President because he would do a great job representing ASUR, given his experience within University of Redlands student government.
The stark differences in the candidates were evident after their brief intros, and they would continue throughout the debate. Miner sees himself as a knowledgeable insider who, if elected, would have no problem handling the day-to-day requirements of being class president.
Konkimalla presents himself as an ambitious, energetic, if not a somewhat frustrated outsider, who has a set of concrete goals he wants to accomplish. Konkimalla would go on to explain these goals, all of which are part of his platform advertised on bright campaign posters scattered throughout Hunsaker.
“I have four elements to my campaign; the first would be the on-campus food delivery app,” Konkimalla began. Such an app is at the top of his posters as his leading promise to University Students. ”A lot of students are sick, or it is too far, or it is at night, and it is dangerous, or they do not have a friend to go eat with at the commons, or plaza.”
Konkimalla explained how this was a project he had been working on, but since the future of Bon Appetit, the food service provider here on campus, is unknown, it had to be put aside for the time being. He pledged to resume work if he became ASUR President.
In continuing with the differences established in the introduction, Miner explained that he was running on values, “instead of committing to certain projects.” He would go on to explain why saying “I think this is more obtainable when only holding a position for 8 months.” Miner also expressed his concern that faculty might be mistreating University of Redlands students, calling such stories, “heartbreaking,” and “not what this school is about.”
The debate remained a comfortable atmosphere throughout, for both the audience and the candidates. Good ideas flowed from both candidates, and on multiple occasions, Miner and Konkimalla would have no choice but to agree with the answers their opponent gave.
Then audience members were given the opportunity to ask the candidates questions. The questions were pointed and sharp, giving the candidates some serious pause. Questions such as how will candidates effectively govern without biases from involvement with other clubs? Or, what are the candidates’ ideas on how to restructure the Senate if they find the current set up unsatisfactory?
The first audience member to ask a question was current ASUR president, and soon to be Lame Duck, Jacob Madden ‘19. “It is both of your jobs to represent the student’s voice. How will you tell the administrator, ‘no’?”
The candidates both seemed very confused and asked for the speaker to clarify the question. However, the question could not have been more concise, and it appeared to the audience members that candidates Miner and Konkimalla were trying to buy time to consider the question carefully.
The question was a great reminder that being an effective leader is much more than having a set of concrete goals or having experience working within student government. The sitting President’s question served as a powerful reminder that what truly matters is a strong personal connection to the students represented and the ability to problem solve, not only on paper but in person as well.
At the end of the debate, the hosts reminded everyone that voting would take place Monday, February 18th, via presence. However no such event can be found on the school’s calendar of events, and emails informing students of the election do not appear to have been sent out yet.
Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer Miracle Cariaga.