The final ASMSU executive debate took place in the SUB Union Market, Tuesday, April 11 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Derek Hetherington and John Walker are running against Kylar Clifton and Micah McFeely for ASMSU president and vice president, respectively. The debate provided a final opportunity for the teams to present their ideas and plans to improve student government and the university as a whole, if elected. Voting for both executive and senatorial position will be open until Wednesday, April 12 at 6 p.m.
The debate, moderated by current ASMSU President Garrett Leach, began with the teams stating their overarching priorities for their campaign.
“Our goals for ASMSU are simple. We’d like ASMSU to be the resource for campus organizations and clubs on campus, and for ASMSU to be the catalyst to promote change through grassroots ideas coming from students,” Hetherington said. “Second, we would like to promote sustainability by the use of cost effective measures, such as improved parking, insuring bike safety measures, and expanding the Streamline. Lastly, we would like to use ASMSU to promote transparency on campus. Students need to know where their funds go.”
Clifton began, “Micah and I are running to make sure every student has a sense of home and a sense of belonging here. Each and every one of you pays $200 to ASMSU per year, and we want to make sure you get something out of that. We want to do that by improving student success, expanding health and wellness services and promoting student engagement,”
The debate moved on to addressing issues such as housing tribulations in Bozeman, diversity on campus, sustainability efforts, retention and improving student engagement.
Hetherington and Walker expressed concern with transparency in where student fees end up. “The biggest thing is accessibility with information. We need to make sure that students can find information about where their fees go. It should be posted, accessible and known. We want to create avenues for students to reach out to their senators,” Hetherington said.
On sustainability, McFeely told the crowd, “it’s a huge challenge to fund sustainable goals. Kylar and I are both very aware of that. Being cognizant of issues in money is important, but we need to mobilize students and show the administration that students care about sustainable goals. Sometimes, it’s forgotten how effective students’ voices can be.”
A point of contention was found in Clifton and McFeely’s proposal to create a new paid position within ASMSU as the director of diversity and inclusion. “If you look at other land grant universities like ourselves, for example Colorado State University and Washington State University, they already have positions within their student body government that are dedicated to these initiatives. In our eyes, Montana State, although amazing, is behind the ball. We need to catch up and implement these positions,” McFeely said.
However, Hetherington and Walker did not agree. Hetherington countered, “first and foremost, we don’t want to be creating new positions.” Describing the current duties of the ASMSU vice president, Hetherington continued, “managing nine directors as it is a substantial task. For the most part, we don’t think creating new programs is the best move here. We would like to see program directors work together to create new options for students and closer communication.”
The debate concluded with questions from the audience. Voting for both executive and senatorial position will be open until Wednesday April 12 at 6 p.m. at montana.edu/vote.