During campaign week, The Round Up sat down separately with all three ASNMSU Presidential candidates (Kevin Prieto, Manuel Ordoque and Corey Stevens) and asked each of them the same questions regarding the election. Questions ranged from policy to the impending budget they will inherit, to how they will work the University administration, and areas they believe the student government can improve. Their most prominent answers are on the following spread. Below are the questions that each were asked (with the number to the question corresponding to their answer on the following spread) to each of them.
1. What has prompted you to make this run at the ASNMSU Presidency this year?
Kevin Prieto: “For me being a part of the community of Las Cruces and having family go through at NMSU, this University means so much to me, I want to give back to the University, I want to give back by serving the students, that’s why I’ve been a part of ASNMSU for the last 3 years. I’ve seen the good and the bad and I want to get us to where we need to be”
Manuel Ordoque: “I’ve been a Senator for two years, some of the things I’ve seen in the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch has concerned me. When ASNMSU talks about legislative action, they don’t really bring up international students. That’s something I want to do, I want to prioritize international and graduate students. ASNMSU has a track record of only representing undergraduate students, a lot of leadership in ASNMSU will say ‘that’s not true’ but when you look at the two years I’ve been here, it’s [International and Graduate] always that thing in the closet. They’ve been left out and its preposterous, it’s sickening”
Corey Stevens: “Since my Sophomore Year of High School, I have wanted to come here [NMSU], partly because of the marching band initially, and partly because of the culture here at the University, the family environment. I was also involved with the College of Business and Student Media and now I feel I’m ready to take myself out of those [activities] and put my name in the race and represent something [activities I’ve done] that I have been trying to for a long time”
2. What about your background (involvement in organizations or the community) do you feel has prepared you to assume a leadership role of this magnitude?
Kevin Prieto: “My experience goes back to high school. I was Junior Class President and Student Body President of Las Cruces High School. It made me really active and it carried on to college where I saw my work could be valued in a bigger domain and bigger outreach. I take it from everyday life and the different experiences, I am Vice President of two other clubs and I’m in a fraternity, I really hold values that other students hold. I understand what it means to be in a small organization that is struggling as well as the other end of the spectrum”
Manuel Ordoque: “I worked with Armando Rodriguez, [a board member with Canutillo ISD in Texas], completely shadowing him when he would go to Houston. When I saw what he would do, the ethic, the hustle, it taught me how to be diplomatic with individuals who didn’t have the same opinion or beliefs with me. I am also the President of Alpha Kappa Lamda, I’ve learned you have to trust your members of your organization.”
Corey Stevens: “With all of these organizations [I am a part of], I have gotten to know a diverse group of people. I have gotten to know a lot of stories and why these students are here, whether it’d be anyone who comes from different parts of life, from someone who has to work twice as hard as someone else to the person that came to NMSU because they offer something other Universities don’t I understand that and those people and I think I am well rounded in that way”
3. What are some of the main points on your platform that you would say are cornerstones of your campaign?
Kevin Prieto: “Biggest issue I see is in communication, whether it’d be student-to-student or council-to organizations, etc. Faculty feels the same way so we see there’s a common theme that needs to be addressed and we can destroy that barrier. We should also improve in transparency and our outreach and PR with the students and ASNMSU and Las Cruces as a whole. I also want to reach out to UNM and do some partnerships with them. Lastly [platform agenda], my fiscal responsibility, I feel I know the budget better than a lot of people.”
Manuel Ordoque: “I want to make the Graduate Student Councils and the Graduate Schools autonomous from ASNMSU. After speaking to these students, they agree, it’s time, they want to judge bills amongst themselves. There’s a lot of dirty stuff that the Senate can do, they like to play their own House of Cards with their little political landscape. When an undergrad that is studying something like an Animal Sciences major gets to determine research funds for a graduate student, it’s troubling.”
Corey Stevens: “I have strict platform policies like increasing diversity awareness on campus which is ensuring that member of the continuing diversity board get their allotted money, etc. I also think that ASNMSU needs to take a more global approach in how we use the student voice, especially with all of the budget cuts. I think moving forward we need to partner with administration and get our goals and facts straight and then take a global approach.”
4. With the State and University in a fluid budget situation, how would you handle a task of helping with appropriation of money as well as overseeing the budget as a whole?
Kevin Prieto: “I’ve seen a good budget and I’ve seen a bad budget, and I want to involve the students more, even if it complicated to understand I want to sit down with them and answer any questions. It goes back to communication and seeing what the students want. When one organization offers similar things to what we [ASNMSU] do, there’s a lot of redundancy and wasted money. I want to be as efficient as possible and make sure we aren’t wasting anybody’s money (student fees)”
Manuel Ordoque: “It’s a really delicate situation. Everyone is betting on enrollment to go down, so I would cut appropriations in the surplus account for Senate. I would also cut the amount that is given to Directors in ASNMSU. The State would give me this amount of money and it would be up to me to be responsible with that, along with my directors.”
Corey Stevens: “It will be tricky for anybody, but the budget is actually pretty balanced, but if you want to balance the internal budget throughout the year you could use the penny rule [Taking 1% off every line item] for everyone’s budget. I think this year they [Current ASNMSU Administration] did a good job bringing all of the student organizations before them and seeing where they were spending their money.”
5. Being the voice of the student population, how would you interact with Administration, including Chancellor Carruthers to advocate for students’ interest?
Kevin Prieto: “I value relationships more than anything, I think the foundation of success is respect. I have respect for all the administration and they have respect for me. I know them, I’ve worked with them and the experience I have had, they know me.”
Manuel Ordoque: “My relationship with Carruthers would be diplomatic, they would know I would have to push for certain things. Sometimes I will be aggravated and so will they but I know the idea they have in mind will be the best interest of the students”
Corey Stevens: “I have a good relation with Chancellor Carruthers, but the administration already has an agenda, and whatever they say is more important than what our students say. We haven’t had a global approach, but [if elected] we could come together to compare goals for the University and see where we meet to work and fight together.”
6. In your opinion, what is the biggest problem (or area in need of improvement) currently with ASNMSU?
Kevin Prieto: “Transparency, with PR and outreach and extending that hand to the students. We have a closed base of students who know who we are and what we do and they come and ask for money and utilize their resources that they are paying for [with Student Fees]. I want to reach out to students that don’t really know who we are and reach them and reward them”
Manuel Ordoque: “Something everyone runs on but no one ever follow through with is transparency. NMSU must cut about $22 million by the fall, but no one is talking about it, and that will affect tuition. When looking at the most recent Board of Regents minutes [from their meeting in January] nowhere does it say about any kind of tuition increase, so that means they will have to cut staff and professorships. When you cut all these positions, how valuable will the University stay? With transparency, where has the leadership been in telling us we might get an increase in our tuition?
Corey Stevens: “I think ASNMSU needs to stop being so much like a student government, it has to be better by reaching more students and taking a more global approach. We need to act like an actual governing body and partner with the higher governing body of the University. We’re ranked a top tier University, but we never get better, we never rise in the rankings, I think it is because all of the budget cuts that we are getting and it is now starting to affect Faculty which means students are losing teachers that they might have come here for”
7. What is something interesting (or a fun fact) about yourself that may not come up in the course of a regular campaign?
Kevin Prieto: “My life changed when I had a Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich. My sister for years told me to try it and I finally tried it one day and now it’s my favorite snack. Toast the bread, crunchy peanut butter and an extra crunch pickle.”
Manuel Ordoque: “I’m from Chicago, I was close to playing for the Chicago Fire [MLS Team]. I was scouted by Cuauhtemoc Blanco and he scouted me when I was in Aurora, Illinois. It was a cool experience.”
Corey Stevens: “I think something unique is that I have Tourette’s and just in case people question it while I’m speaking they can hopefully focus on my passion for what I’m doing. I also play the trombone.”