Associated Students see small turnout for presidential debate

A.S. candidates engage in a student debate during their A.S. Kick-off event at the Bayramian Lawn on March 25. Photo credit: Karla Henry / Daily Sundial

CLARIFICATION: The quote “Out of 36,000 students, we should have more people here today,” was said by Sahar Maknouni, not Talar Alexanian as stated in the story.

Associated Students held their first and only presidential debate Monday on Bayramian Lawn.

Both presidential candidates, Bijan Nasseripourtowsi and Christopher Woolett, current A.S. vice president, answered questions asked by A.S. members about their plans if they were to be elected A.S president.

Less than 100 students were at the debate, and most of them were either friends or supporters of the candidates.

Both candidates answered questions about school spirit and issues that students may be experiencing.

Nasseripourtowsi said the most important issue that should be addressed is the lack of Wi-Fi hot spots on campus. Nasseripourtowsi also mentioned that, if president, he will make sure to have Meet the Clubs day happen more than once a semester.

He said the event is “how people really get to know the clubs and all the organizations on campus.”

Woolett said Wi-Fi should not be the first priority, and the situation can be fixed if students tell A.S. where on campus hot spots are ineffective. This way, A.S. could have Information Technology fix the problem.

Woolett said his main priority is bringing students together as a community and strengthening the A.S. Senate.

Both vice presidential candidates, Sahar Maknouni and Talar Alexanian, spoke about the importance of student participation and school spirit. Alexanian mentioned that she has been involved on campus since her first day of school and is a “very proud matador.”

Maknouni said the debate’s turn out was not an example of school spirit.

“Out of 36,000 students, we should have more people here today,” Maknouni said.

When candidates were asked why there would be only one presidential debate, Woolett said the previous election’s chair had too many personal problems to handle while in A.S.

“The chair of elections position was replaced at the very end of winter break, and they had just a couple of months (to prepare),” Woolett said.

Nasseripourtowsi and Maknouni both agreed with Alexanian on the small turnout. Nasseripourtowsi said information should have been released earlier and that it could have allowed for more candidates in the election.

Everyone else would have a chance to run if they knew the benefits, like that A.S. presidents don’t have to pay tuition,” Nasseripourtowsi said. “I’m sure a lot more people would be running.”

Freshman JP De Jesus disagreed and said A.S. marketed the debate well, but said it might have been more effective if students were allowed to asked questions.

“It would have put them on the spot, makes them think of answering right then and there and lets them express their feelings,” De Jesus said.

Students can vote Tuesday and Wednesday for their A.S. candidates online at or at a polling booth listed on the site.