The Northern Light hosts town hall with USUAA candidates

USUAA presidential and vice presidential candidates gathered for a town hall-style forum on Monday, March 25.

Candidates for president and vice president answered questions from The Northern Light and audience participants on March 25. From left to right: Iqlas Dubed, Eisa Chang, Luis Sanchez, Hannah Huber, Joe Pavia-Jones. Photo by Matthew Schmitz.

The Northern Light, UAA's student-run newspaper, held a public town hall in the Student Union Den with presidential and vice presidential candidates running in the upcoming USUAA election. 

This year there are three tickets for the election of president and vice president. According to a USUAA communication, the election will take place on April 2 and students will receive a link via email to vote online.  Students will have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday to vote.

In addition to the executive positions, there are other positions up for election, including senators, members of Green Fee Board and Concert Board.

Mark Zimmerman, a reporter with The Northern Light, moderated the town hall, asking questions vetted by The Northern Light staff. Members of the audience were able to ask questions as well during a period of audience participation. 

Presidential candidate Iqlas Dubed – running mate Fortune Dinganga not present – said that she will make people feel welcome on campus by being active in the community. She said that her experience working with Alaskan nonprofits has shaped her into a leader who is able to build community. 

Dubed said that “establishing a community at UAA” is an important step to achieving a higher graduation rate.

Dubed said would like to see Title IX training take place in-person to show that the university takes the issue seriously. Sexual assault and domestic violence issues are important to Dubed, and she said that she will work to get Title IX issues processed faster.

Dubed said that she would “validate” student concerns as president. She invited students to attend USUAA’s Friday meetings so that they can increase their connection with the organization.

Presidential candidate Joe Pavia-Jones said that he has spent many years in student government at both the UAA Anchorage and Mat-Su campuses. He also has experience with leadership from his time in Scouts, he said.

Pavia-Jones said that he would like to see an increase in campus engagement. He said that he would work with organizations such as Concert Board to increase student involvement on campus.

Pavia-Jones also said that he likes to “talk to people face-to-face” and keep people engaged to help them get their work done. He said that “finding out the best solution” to each student issue is one of his goals.

Pavia-Jone’s vice presidential running mate, Hannah Huber, said that she has been in UAA’s student government since 2022. She is the current vice president.

Huber said that she would like to focus on the issues of transportation, food on campus and wages for student workers. Huber said that USUAA’s connections to campus executives is an important aspect of the organization that she will utilize to bring about results. “Knowing who runs what” and “starting conversations with higher ups” is important, Huber said.

Huber said that stressing the importance of issues and “improving communication overall” are two of her goals if she is re-elected.

Presidential candidate Luis Sanchez said that he wants to increase Seawolf Shuttle service if he is elected. A simple way to do this, explained Sanchez, is to add an additional route to the Seawolf Shuttle that runs opposite to the loop the shuttle currently takes.

Sanchez said that he would like to see higher student satisfaction and wants to “reduce intimidation” for students seeking to speak with USUAA about their issues by putting “USUAA more out there.” Better communication, said Sanchez, will create a positive “feedback cycle” that will increase student participation with USUAA.

Sanchez’s running mate, Eisa Chang, said that she and Sanchez will listen to students and be active and involved on campus. Chang said that she has had many leadership roles at UAA, including as a resident advisor.

Chang said that accessibility is an important issue to her and that the university can do better for students with disabilities. She would like to increase investments and discussions around Disability Support Services, especially by actively seeking student opinions.

Chang said that she will work to create a “motivational atmosphere” and wants “to plant a seed in every UAA student’s mind that ‘they can do it’.” Chang said that she also wants to increase the incentive for student interaction with USUAA.

Chang and Sanchez said that they will also work with Parking Services to find solutions to issues that students have with parking on campus. The pair would like to “optimize the current space we have,” said Chang.

Students can look forward to receiving a link to vote for all positions on the USUAA ballot in their email and have until 11:59 p.m. on April 2 to vote.