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USG presidential candidates try to boost their student engagement

Ahead of the second campaign round, USG candidates are exploring ways to enhance their connection to students

USC USG "Vote On" campaign

USG Presidential Election season is upon us. Tomorrow begins the next phase of the campaign! Expect to see buttons, leaflets and signs. So we spoke with the five presidential candidates about their platforms and how each of them plans to connect with us, the voters. Nataly Lozano reports.

It’s election season for USC students once again, as the USG presidential candidates begin their physical campaigns on Tuesday.

According to the USG Speaker of the Senate Alvaro Flores, voter turnout has been low for recent USG elections. So how are this year’s candidates engaging with USC students and getting them to vote?

We asked the five presidential candidates that same question.

We begin with third-year Sociology major Miko Mariscal and her DEI initiative, which aims to emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion as a forefront of her platform.

Miko Mariscal: These conversations need to be had and they all intersect and flowed down to a lot of our campaign points, whether it be the club resource guide or career career development, as well as our transparency tracker. And then finally, our very large one as Trojan family weekend and our funding goals.

Mariscal’s vice presidential candidate, third-year Communication major Andrew Taw, highlights the events the duo has planning to promote their platform this week.

Andrew Taw: This upcoming Wednesday, we’re going to be giving out pizza, We’re going to be on Trousdale. We’re hoping that people come talk to us. We’re going to have like a QR code that like links all our platform points. And also we’ve just been meeting with like RSOs, our registered student organizations recently. So we’ve just been excited.

Fourth-year Political Science major and presidential candidate Aidan Feighery agrees with the notion that face-to-face communication reigns supreme.

Aidan Feighery: I strongly prefer to have an actual conversation with people. I don’t like to just talk at them and assume that they got the message. I prefer to have a conversation with them and hear what they care about and they think is important.

Feighery’s platform focuses on sexual assault prevention at USC.

Aidan Feighery: The most important part of our platform focuses on a real solution to sexual assault prevention at USC. We saw in fall of 2021 that we didn’t have enough protections then, and since then we have only had those protections rolled back due to disaffiliation.

In the same vein, Divya Jakatdar, third year Political Science student and presidential candidate, believes in serving the USC student body in four main ways.

Divya Jakatdar: Our goal is really to improve upon four areas of student life, which are accessibility, affordability, community and transparency. And then we basically bucketed our priority projects within this.

Jakatdar’s campaigning involves more personal ways to get voters engaged.

Divya Jakatdar: We’re making a lot of videos showing, you know, a little bit of lightheartedness, but also just to really engage voters, because I think students often get disengaged with student government.

Navya Singh, 3rd year Business Administration student and vice presidential candidate, also believes in hands-on engagement for voters.

Navya Singh: So this upcoming Friday from 11 to 12 we have like professional head shots because I am a Marshall student, but I feel like without Marshall, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to really like learn the importance of like resumes, of head shots, of networking. So, I really want to try to implement those types of things.

In terms of her platform, Singh has used her time as a senator to emphasize her qualifications for the job.

Navya Singh: So, just try to talk to people on the day-to-day. Whether that’s classes or just anywhere tabling-wise, just to see, like, why it is that people don’t vote, and like, what we can do about that because I think that talking to people — listening is a very important skill that I learned personally as a Senator and Devon is fantastic at.

Another candidate who is a current USG senator, 2nd year Political Economy major Yoav Gillath, is using previous experience on his presidential platform.

Yoav Gillath: So our three biggest priorities on our platform is community outreach, mental health and restructuring.

Yoav Gillath: We also want to keep pushing for the Trojans give back Dining Dollar donation program that I founded that’s been able to donate $55,000 worth of food to unhoused individuals and food insecure students.

Gillath’s vice presidential candidate, Quantitative Biology major Monica Rodriguez, is passionate about getting new voters involved this election season.

Monica Rodriguez: For some of these people, it’s their first time, like voting in an election and they’re like juniors. And so like that really says a lot about like our campaign and like our intentions to make sure that we’re we’re actively seeking out people who haven’t been historically involved in making sure that, you know, they realize that they’re just as important to us.

As you’ve heard, this year’s USG candidates look to engage more with the student body. Only time will tell if their efforts pay off in voter turnout.

Voting opens February 21st and closes the following Sunday, February 26th.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Nataly Lozano.