MSA presidential candidates discuss campus priorities in election debate

The debate came down to two sets of candidates after three other tickets dropped out of the race.

Kassidy Tarala

Two sets of candidates vying to lead the University of Minnesota’s undergraduate student government outlined their priorities and discussed campus issues at a debate on Friday. 

Minnesota Student Association presidential and vice presidential candidates Simran Mishra and Mina Kian and Dobbs DeCorsey and Larranz Guider discussed their qualifications, campus safety and improving sexual assault and mental health support services. The debate, held at Anderson Hall, comes just days before the campus elections start on March 5. 

Mishra, presidential candidate and running mate Kian both hold positions in MSA — Mishra is the speaker of the forum and Kian is the ranking representative to the Board of Regents. Mishra also ran as a vice presidential candidate last year. 

DeCorsey and Guider don’t have student government experience, but are active members of the University’s speech team, where DeCorsey serves as president.  

“My biggest challenge will be the learning curve. I’m not a previous member of MSA, so it can be pretty daunting to attempt this role,” DeCorsey said. “But I think I can bring an external voice to the organization and get people involved who aren’t already members.”

But Mishra argued her MSA experience is what makes her the ideal presidential candidate.

“It’s not easy to get administrators to see you and respect you, but they know us by first name, they know our work and we understand how to communicate with them from our prior three years of doing it,” she said.

The top three priorities of Mishra and Kian’s ticket are supporting DACA students, standing up to campus sexual violence and reaching out to the queer community, communities of color and other minority groups.

“My biggest challenge is that I get really invested in stories about students’ adversity, and that can take a toll on me,” Mishra said. “I can be fairly sensitive to their stories, but our ticket is rooted in advocacy, we need to be action-oriented.” 

DeCorsey and Guider are running on a similar platform of supporting outreach efforts to marginalized communities, but they also want to focus on campus safety and accessibility.

DeCorsey, who worked as an orientation leader over the summer, said many students told him they felt unsafe on campus at night.  

He said he wants to extend the hours of campus circulators to help students navigate Dinkytown during late hours, and added that he would support MSA’s budding project to add lighting to the Dinkytown area.

Both parties agreed that the current extended Gopher Chauffeur services should continue next year. 

“It’s been very successful so far, so I’m excited to advocate for it to continue during weekdays,” Mishra said. “But it’s important to go down to the root of the issue of why we need services like this: because of safety.”

Mishra and Kian said they will be targeting safety on campus, specifically for women, communities of color, the queer community and other groups who feel hesitant to go out at night.

“We want to add a consolidated app that offers all different traveling methods, so students can see their options and figure out the easiest way to get where they’re going,” Mishra said.

DeCorsey said he also wants to ensure that students with mental illness receive proper support.

“I receive mental health services from DRC, so I know what an incredibly unique experience it is to receive services for an invisible disability,” he said. “But I want to make sure that people who go to Boynton receive proper care, too. Instead of seeing a nurse practitioner, I want to make sure they’re seeing actual psychiatrists.”