Costs, openness top issues
At-Large senatorial candidates for the Student Government Association Senate said at a debate Tuesday communication between the student body and University administration is key to addressing student issues.
Visit The Daily Cougar Voter’s Guide for candidate’s names, top issues and solutions in their own words.
At-Large 4 candidate Tommy Kirby said University administration must help students with any outstanding issues affecting campus.
"There’s a level of quality that isn’t up to par with the amount of tuition we pay," Kirby said.
At-Large 1 candidate Aamir Abdullah said one of the biggest issues facing students is lack of parking and he would want UH to provide free parking to students.
At-Large 4 candidate Rav Khinda said he would like to see a one-year tuition freeze.
At-Large 1 incumbent Brandon Brewton also said he was concerned with how tuition was being allocated within the University.
"(I want) customer service to be a top priority," Brewton said. "One of the worst areas of the University is the Financial Aid Office."
At-Large 3 candidate Jeremy Edwards said residential housing improvements would be one way to help with traffic problems, as it would help reduce the number of commuter students.
"We need to make more use of satellite parking (and provide) a more immediate fix to the campus," Edwards said. "We need to fix residential areas to make it more attractive to students."
Khinda, Kirby, Brewton and Abdullah said they agreed that residential area improvements would help attract more students to live on campus.
Candidates said textbooks were another big issue, as professors are requiring students to buy new editions of books that contain few changes from the previous books.
"We should look for textbooks that have a life of more than one year," Edwards said.
Kirby said more open communication with professors to convey student concern would help. Edwards said bookstores should be able to buy back textbooks from students at higher prices.
Some candidates also said the printing limit of 500 pages at the M.D. Anderson Library was not enough for students. Instead, the library should increas the limit to 1,000 to 2,000 pages, candidates said.
Khinda said students should look to their individual colleges to provide them with printing resources instead of relying on only the library.
Candidates also said more food choices were necessary on campus so students can have more variety. Abdullah said Muslim students in particular do not have halal meals to choose.
"The campus is losing money because students are buying halal food off campus or bringing food to make from home," he said.
Edwards said UH should probably adopt two food service providers so students would benefit from the competition between the two.
"If we’re going to lobby for a food service, then we need two providers… on campus so that they can keep their standards up to par," he said.
Candidates also said they are in favor of putting pressure on current food service provider Aramark to give its employees medical benefits.
Safety was another issue the candidates said was important and calling for improvements by the UH Department of Public Safety to provide more lighting, pedestrian officers patrolling different areas and more call boxes.
Khinda said the UH Police Department needed to improve its response time. During one incident, he said, UHPD took 45 minutes to respond to his call.
Pi Sigma Alpha President Gerrit von Wenckstern, who helped organize the debate, said it was important for students to understand what the candidates’ ideas were to address their concerns.
The debate, which was originally planned for candidates of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, was changed since it was arranged Thursday and did not give those candidates enough notice to attend, von Wenckstern said. Instead, At-Large candidates were invited to participate in the debate at the Mediterranean Room in the University Center.
Of the nine candidates running for four undergraduate at-large positions, four were not present: At-Large 3 candidates Kelly Waterman and Richard Petersen, At-Large 1 candidate Natalie Tarnosky and current Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Sen. Aleah Al-Sad, who is running unopposed for At-Large 2.
The election begins at 8 a.m. today and ends 8 p.m. Thursday. Students can vote for SGA president, vice president, At-Large senators and individual college senators by entering their PeopleSoft 8.9 number at www.studentelection.uh.edu.