The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), presidential debate saw more than the one anticipated candidate when biomedical senior Nha Ha announced he was running for ASI president against previously unopposed candidate Katie Morrow on Thursday.
Ha, who is running as a write-in candidate, said he decided to enter the race last minute to give students more of a choice in the election.
“It wasn’t until (Wednesday) that I realized there was really only one candidate,” Ha said. “No one else is going to run, so when it came down to it, it was, you know, do it cause nobody else is going to.”
Ha said his campaign platform is looking to address some of the issues he has seen throughout his five years at Cal Poly.
“My platform is open communication, trying to just educate everyone,” Ha said. “For instance, when we had the Student Success Fee forums, no one went to those, like one or five kids. I felt that it was ASI’s role to come out here, stand in the middle and yell, ‘Hey! You need to go to these things! This is going to affect you!’ I just feel that more communication in that sense … is a good thing.”
From social sciences junior Morrow’s standpoint, another candidate running for the presidency can only be beneficial for students.
“I’m really excited about it,” Morrow said. “I do want another candidate to run, and I’ve wanted that all along. I got the chance to speak with him a little after the debate, and we’re going to meet up tomorrow and chat. So, it’s very civil, all good feelings.”
These good feelings were evident in the debate when the two went head-to-head, discussing everything from diversity on campus to opinions on greek life.
“Honestly, it was a learning experience,” Ha said. “Katie was knowledgeable — she was actually able to take one of the questions before me because she saw I was flustered, which I really appreciate. Overall, it went better than I expected.”
During the debate, Morrow and Ha were also asked to describe themselves and their campaigns in three words.
“The first word to describe me would be dedicated,” Morrow said in response. “I really love ASI. I think it’s a fantastic organization with a huge potential for leadership, and … I’m really dedicated to seeing that those students are really utilized to the fullest. I think the second word to describe me would be experienced. I think this is a strength because this is a trait that really gives me the opportunity to hit the ground running and start from day one right from my experiences. The third word I would use to describe myself would be enthusiastic because I’m very excited for the opportunity, and I want to take advantage of it fully.”
Ha, on the other hand, chose driven, spirit and insomnia.
“The first word that comes to mind when I think about how I describe myself is driven,” Ha said in the debate. “I say driven because, no matter how long it takes, or how quick it is, or whatever obstacles come, I feel that I can overcome anything … My second word is spirit. I love this school, I love Learn By Doing. That’s exactly why I’m up here right now, because I like to learn by doing, I keep that in my real life. The last word that I use to describe myself is insomnia, because there’s going to be a lot of long nights, and as a college student you’re going to be up late, especially as an engineering student.”
At the end of the debate, both parties said they were satisfied with the way it went and are now looking to prepare for the election on April 25.
Ha’s election will feature a more “green” approach than the normal campaign posters and flyers.
“I’m not using any paper, trying to leave my footprint as light as possible,” Ha said. “I’m just using word of mouth, the Internet.”
Morrow said her campaign following the debate is going to be just ramping up her existing efforts to bring more people into her team.
“We just want to keep going full force,” Morrow said. “It’s a constant meeting more people and then more people want to get involved, and that’s really exciting, so we’re trying to spread the word more, keep going to clubs — a lot of keep building upon what we’re already doing.”
Soil science sophomore Jason Demoss is one of the people who wanted to get involved in Morrow’s campaign. He joined her campaign after hearing that Morrow was building upon current ASI President Kiyana Tabrizi’s platform last year. Overall, he said he thought both candidates did a good job in the debate.
“The debate went great,” Demoss said. “Katie answered the questions perfectly fine, and I think Nha Ha just wrote in (Wednesday) at 4 p.m., so I think this is all kind of rushed for him, but overall I think it went great.”
Students can vote on ASI president and Board of Directors from 7 a.m. April 25 to 7 a.m. April 26 through their My Cal Poly portals.