All-freshman election was journalism-heavy, raised ethical concerns

April 23rd, 2013 1 comment
USGD candidates Travis Arbon and Frank Smith III squared off in their first debate Tuesday, March 19.

USGD candidates Travis Arbon and Frank Smith III squared off in their first debate March 19.

Unlike last year’s USGD elections when incumbent President Joseph Grossman ran against freshman Erika Green, this year’s presidential ticket comprised solely freshmen.

University College Sen. Frank Smith III and Barrett, The Honors College Sen. Travis Arbon announced their candidacies March 18. Smith was elected president April 4 with 54.3 percent of votes.

Besides being the first freshman-only campaign the campus had seen, both tickets included two journalism majors. Arbon and Emily Antuna, his vice president of services running mate, are both journalism majors. Smith, an exploratory major, said he will be switching to journalism next semester alongside his VPS Marcus Dudas.

While some journalism students may not want to get involved politically to avoid appearing biased, journalism senior William Scot Grey said that as a freshman, students have more time to get involved with extracurricular activities like student government.

If journalism students want to get involved with student government, “more power to them,” Grey said.

Journalism junior Stephen Hicks said he thought it was a bad idea for journalism students to get involved with student government. Hicks said he watched part of a student government debate earlier in the semester, where candidates were offering comments on immigration and health care.

According to Hicks, the candidates were taking partisan stances on these issues.

“People aren’t going to forget that,” he said.

Hicks said that having your political views known could kill your credibility as a journalist.

“As journalism students, we were told to guard our political views as closely as possible,” Hick said, referring to one of his introductory journalism courses.

Journalism Ethics and Diversity instructor Michael Bluhm said he sees good arguments on both sides.

“Just because they’re journalism majors doesn’t mean they need to perpetuate this illusion of neutrality,” Bluhm said.

Bluhm said the biggest potential issue would be if a journalism major were to cover student government for a publication while being involved with student government.

Arbon said he does not believe his involvement with student government necessarily conflicts with his role as a journalist. While working as a reporter for the Downtown Devil, he turned down stories about USGD, he said. Arbon added that the publication discloses any potential conflicts of interest in editors’ notes at the ends of articles.

Atuna said she thought being involved with student government would give her an edge as a reporter. She hopes to become a political journalist, and student government helps her to understand bureaucracy and the political process more completely, she said.

Dudas said by email that he would not do anything to compromise his journalism career, and added he’s not interested in covering politics. Smith was unavailable for comment.

Journalism sophomore Gilbert Romero said the potential ethical problem isn’t a big deal. He said running for student government is appropriate because it is school-related and part of the educational experience of a student.

Editor’s note: Travis Arbon works as a contributing reporter for the Downtown Devil. He did not contribute to the reporting of this article.

Cronkite Sen. Brinkley puts on cultural festival on Taylor Street

February 28th, 2013 No comments
Cronkite Sen. Malcolm Brinkley aims to bring a higher cultural awareness to the downtown Phoenix campus. (Madeline Pado / DD)

Cronkite Sen. Malcolm Brinkley aims to bring a higher cultural awareness to the downtown Phoenix campus. (Madeline Pado / DD)

Cronkite Sen. Malcolm Brinkley is unveiling his World Fest Show this Friday at 6 p.m. on Taylor Street. The event is meant to promote multicultural awareness and acceptance on the downtown Phoenix campus.

The event will feature food from several local food trucks. Brinkley said Mexicana, Capoeira and swing dance will be exhibited at the event, as well.

Nazim Rashid and New Renaissance, a local jazz group, will be headlining the show.

“I am expecting a huge turnout,” Brinkley said. “My team and I have been working very hard on this event, so we can only expect the best turnout.”

Brinkley’s ethnic advisory committee was dissolved with all other committees with the implementation of USGD’s new bylaws last semester, but the planning of the event continued.

“Planning for the event has been hectic, but I know it will be rewarding,” Brinkley said. “I want this show to be great and it will be.”

Brinkley, who says he prides himself on being a cultural advocate, said he saw this event as a way to promote his passion and the beauty of other cultures.

“The DPC is a unique urban campus,” Brinkley said. “Along with First Friday and art walks, the city of Phoenix has fostered a beautiful cultural environment. This event is a way for ASU to contribute to that cultural movement. I want this event to inspire students and the community to immerse themselves in our local culture, as well as the world.”

Elections department unveils site to submit candidate applications

February 22nd, 2013 Comments off was launched by the new elections department, headed by elections commissioner Wayne Unger. (Screen capture from was launched by the new elections department, headed by elections commissioner Wayne Unger. (Screen capture from

In order to further push the “One university, four campuses” mindset, USG launched a pan-campus elections website,, highlighting the newly implemented elections code, the application to run for office and important dates for those interested.

Wayne Unger, a supply-chain management senior at the W.P. Carey School, was appointed elections commissioner, a position that downtown President Joseph Grossman pushed to add to the universal constitution last spring. Unger is responsible for managing elections on all four campuses.

Unger put together an elections team, made up of assistant election commissioners for each campus and the graduate student government.

“Our elections team will work diligently to facilitate this year’s elections in the most seamless way possible, keeping in mind integrity, ethics and the mission and values of Arizona State University,” Unger said. “Furthermore, we will work passionately to increase the number of voters as we seek to increase the percentage of the total student body casting their vote for who we want to represent us in the future.”

The website includes an “application” tab, where students can submit their photo, unofficial transcript, CV or resume and platform to run for office on their campus.

All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on March 1, but an early submission on Feb. 22 is recommended. Applications turned in by Feb. 22 may be reviewed by the elections department to ensure application completion and candidate eligibility.

Students cannot announce their candidacy until after spring break, or face disqualification.

The site also lays out all important dates for each campus’s elections, including candidate information sessions. The first USGD candidate information session is Monday, Feb. 25 in POST L1-12.

On March 21, the elections department will host the inaugural “One University, Multiple Governments” executive candidate debate for all campuses. The debates will take place in the Turquoise Ballroom in the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Elections will be held on all campuses on April 3-4.

The website also has space for formal complaints against any campaign– a function you can bet will get some use this election season.

USGD adopts 23 pages of new bylaws

January 23rd, 2013 No comments

The new bylaws outline all executive positions, including those currently held by Joseph Grossman, left, Joey Amonett, middle and David Bakardjiev. (Windsor Smith/DD)

USGD’s 23-page bylaw overhaul unanimously passed and has begun to take shape. The document is significantly larger than the previous set of bylaws, aiming to create a more detailed pathway for future administrations. The bylaws primarily cover five factions of the organization.

USGD president:

The duties of the president haven’t changed much with the passing of the new bylaws.

The president has five days to take action on Senate legislation, including a possible veto, which needs a 2/3 Senate vote to override.

The president must act as a representative on the Interfraternity Council, PanHellenic Council and Residence Hall Association. He or she must also sit on the USG Council of Presidents and take notes to give to the Senate President.

Along with the Vice President of Policy, the president must “craft and present” a tuition proposal to the Senate.

The president is responsible for filling all empty Supreme Court Justice vacancies. A nomination must be made by Oct. 1, or the president’s compensation will be withheld.

Vice president of policy & Vice president of service:

The vice president of policy is responsible for coordinating relations with the Board of Regents, the state government and local municipalities. The person holding this position must also handle matters dealing with academic policy at ASU and attend Academic Senate meetings.

If the president were unable to hold office, the vice president of policy would take over.

The vice president of service is responsible for creating and maintaining new services to meet student needs on campus and execute the mission and goals of the Office of Services.

To be eligible for either position, a student must be enrolled in six credit hours and maintain a 2.33 GPA. Failure to meet the requirements will result in removal from the position.

Director Positions:

The new bylaws require one public relations director. The number of staff members serving on the public relations department is not set and can fluctuate as deemed necessary.

A director of administration must be appointed to provide agendas, record and copy minutes, work with the business office to ensure compensation for paid positions, order supplies and any other administrative jobs given by the president.

The vice president of policy must nominate a director of college affairs. The department is new in this set of bylaws. The director of college affairs will be responsible for advancing textbook affordability, financial aid and civic outreach initiatives. The director can hire volunteers to help out.

The vice president of policy must also nominate a director of legislative affairs to track legislation, lobby, and direct campaigns or awareness. Volunteers may also be hired for the new legislative affairs committee.

The vice president of services must appoint a director of local affairs. The director is responsible community outreach and maintaining the relationship between ASU and the city of Phoenix.


Senators must now hold three office hours a week, the time and location of which must be posted on the USGD website. A minimum of one of the three hours must be held in the Senate Office.

Senators must meet with their deans at least twice a semester and represent all clubs and organizations associated with their college.

The Senate president is responsible for ensuring each member performs his or her duties.

Students receive $1,000 compensation for serving on the Senate, and may also receive internship credit for the position. If they fail to attend at least three general meetings per semester or face impeachment, they will not be compensated.


There are only four committees under the new bylaws: the Committee on Downtown Phoenix Campus Affairs, the Committee on University Affairs, the Committee on Government Operations and the Budget Allocations Committee. Every Senator must sit on at least two committees. Taskforces may be created for any other specific Senate initiatives.

Policy change allows two orgs. to go on trip, receive full funding

November 8th, 2012 No comments

The Downtown student government changed a finance policy this semester to better outline how the Senate will fund student organizations for trips, Director of Finance Sam Tongue said.

When the Budget Allocations Committee and its bylaws were revamped last year, USGD capped the amount of money it would allocate to organizations for trips at $1,800 for four people – $450 per person.

Director of Finance Sam Tongue has overseen a revamp of the Downtown student government funding process over the last three semesters.(Connor Radnovich/DD)

Recently, however, the Senate has faced multiple organizations requesting money for the same conference, effectively allocating more than $1,800 for a trip.

To address this problem, USGD decided to allocate the full $1,800 to the first two organizations going on the same trip, with any third organization receiving $900 to send two students, Tongue said.

The new policy was put into practice at the Oct. 5 Senate meeting, when the College Council of Nursing Students and the Student Nurses Association were each approved $1,800 to attend the National Student Nurses Association Midyear Career Planning Conference in California.

Two journalism organizations were also each given the $1800 at Friday’s Senate meeting to attend the Radio Television Digital News Association Conference next month.

So far, three organizations have not requested funding to go on the same trip.

The Downtown Senate first saw there could be problems with the policy last semester when Innovative Breaks wanted to send 50 students to a community service project over spring break. At the time, an organization would receive less funding per person if more than four students went. At the time, USGD allocated them $1,800, creating a precedent allowing groups of four or more to receive USGD’s full funding.

Editor’s note: Sam Tongue works as a blogger for the Downtown Devil sports blog, DD Sports. He did not contribute to the reporting of this article.

New USGD committee to encourage ethnic diversity on campus

October 25th, 2012 Comments off

The ethnic advisory committee was unanimously adopted by the Downtown student government Senate earlier this month with the intent to spread cultural arts and diversity initiatives on the Downtown campus, Committee Chair and Walter Cronkite School Sen. Malcolm Brinkley said.

The goal of the committee, Brinkley said, is to encourage ethnic and minority groups to showcase their cultures. He wants the the Downtown campus to foster an appreciation for different cultures.

Walter Cronkite School Sen. Malcolm Brinkley, standing, is the chairman of USGD’s new ethnic advisory committee. He hopes to increase cultural awareness on the Downtown campus through this group.
(Connor Radnovich/DD)

“My vision for the committee is for it to be a cultural steeple for the campus,” Brinkley said. “Through this it will provide for representatives of the campus’s many cultures and will allow for celebration of the differences we all share.”

The committee only consists of USGD senators at the moment, but Brinkley said he will be introducing it to various campus organizations to gain membership.

The ethnic advisory committee will succeed where other Downtown committees have failed by having a focused goal to serve minority and ethnic groups in particular, Brinkley said.

One of the committee’s main goals is to put together a large multi-cultural event next semester. The event would showcase multi-cultural food, music, art, dance and fashion.

The committee is expected to partner and work with other organizations on the Downtown campus, but details are still unannounced.

Brinkley, who is serving his second year on the Downtown Senate, hasn’t chaired any USGD committees before. But, he has held other leadership positions on campus, including currently sitting as vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists’ ASU chapter.

The ethnic advisory committee’s first meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 1 at 8 p.m.

Point of Information

In other committee-related news, the Downtown student government’s fine arts committee was eliminated at the Oct. 5 Senate meeting. Downtown president Joseph Grossman said it proved to be ineffective in its short lifespan. The committee was created last year to help foster arts Downtown.

ASU-wide meeting helps set student government priorities for year

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Current and newly-elected campus leaders from across ASU met at the AE England Building Sunday to set priorities for next year, learn some background on student government and try to begin thinking on a University-wide level.

Newly-reelected President of the Downtown campus Joseph Grossman discusses what he believes are the most important priorities for student government next year with the other ASU presidents. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Because the governments have a limited window to get work done – 140 days during the year, according to the government advisors – representatives and advisors hoped this early meeting would be a good opportunity to get everyone on the same page.

There were around 50 people in attendance from all four campuses and GPSA. This was the second time ever ASU students governments have met as a group, but the first where they were attempting to set university-wide goals.

Before trying to set their priorities, the representatives heard from government advisors about the history of ASU governments, how it fits in with the Arizona Board of Regents and the importance of working as a collective group.

Afterwards, the assembly split into groups, first five random groups and later seven groups by affiliation – student Senates for each campus and the GPSA assembly, campus vice presidents and campus presidents.

They discussed what they thought were the most important issues for students next year.

The priority that received the most votes for being a primary focus for student governments next year was financial aid. Every affiliate had it among their top three priorities and it appeared to receive the most votes overall.

Also commonly chosen priorities included battling issues at the legislature and trying to build academic servies on campus, including tutoring.

The number one priority representatives from the Downtown Senate was building spirit, pride and tradition on campus. The Senate members in attendance were Cronkite Sen. Malcolm Brinkley and College of Public Programs Sens. Joey Amonett and Cecilio Porras.

After the votes, West President Josh Tucker, Tempe President Jacob Goulding, Grossman, GPSA President Kelley Stewart and GPSA Vice of External Affairs Rhian Stotts talked about their experiences from the past year and what they see as important issues in the future.

Reviews of the 3-hour event were generally positive and the governments are looking to make this meeting an annual occurrence.

Heated funding request debate caps year in Downtown Senate

April 16th, 2012 5 comments

American Humanics’ request for nearly $4,000 from USGD at the Senate’s final meeting of year turned out to be one of the most contentious funding debates senators faced during their terms.

Director of Finance Sam Tongue, near, has guided USGD through budget concerns this year and has managed to keep around $10,000 for next year's rollover fund. (Madeline Pado/DD)

The Senate eventually allocated the nonprofit program $611.82, only 16 percent of the organization’s original request.

Robert’s Rules of Order were largely ignored during the debate, with senators and executive board members speaking over each other.

Vice President of Services David Bakardjiev, who chaired Friday’s meeting, didn’t try to regain control of the Senate until near the end of the discusion.

Michael Homan, local affairs director and member of America Humanics, was unusually talkative during the discussions, often jumping in to explain the organization’s perspective. He represented the organization at the BAC meeting Wednesday.

Homan didn’t see any problem with him trying to influence the discusion from outside the Senate, saying afterwards that senators often sponsor requests from organizations they are a part of and his situation isn’t any different.

The Senate spent the majority of the meeting on this request.

These kind of discussions have been largely absent from Senate meetings this year, in large part due to the importance put on Budget Allocations Committee meetings.

In past years, the BAC meetings were simply a paperwork checkpoint. This year, most of the discussion as to the importance of each funding request

Student government members contended that the funding debate mainly occurred at the Senate meeting because several members of the Budget Allocations Committee were absent during the Wednesday meeting.

Director of Finance Sam Tongue said USGD will likely have a little under $10,000 remaining in student fee money from this year’s budget of $246,000.

The reason the Senate couldn’t simply give American Humanics all the money they want since it’s the last meeting of the year is any extra money USGD has goes into a rollover fund they can use next year.

“Just because there’s extra money at the end doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to use it,” Tongue said. “That’s never been our strategy.”

USGD presidential candidates display different strengths at debate

April 4th, 2012 No comments

By Domenico Nicosia

The second USGD presidential debate will be held Friday afternoon, hosted by the Downtown Devil and moderated by publisher Dan Neligh. In light of the upcoming event, there are certain factors of the first debate that need review.

Certain physical gestures in some cases held equal weight as the candidates’ experience and campaign goals.

Downtown student government President Joseph Grossman used the stage well during the USGD sponsored debate March 27, but held the microphone as if he was prepared for a rap battle. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Some actions raised etiquette yellow cards for both incumbent president Joseph Grossman and presidential hopeful Erika Green.

Let me begin by saying that I am, by no means, a professional and have no formal training in the analysis of body language. That being said, a tendency to be hypercritical and an unintentional attention to detail may have proved valuable in my viewing of this debate.

Owning the arena:
A sense of physical presence is just as important as verbal eloquence, especially in a public setting in front of a live audience.

Candidates should know this. It appeared Grossman did early in the debate.

He asserted his dominance over the debate by insisting on standing as he responded to questions, claiming that this was the way things were done last time.

The tactic seemed to work.

Green appeared more at ease in the confines of her brown plush chair. When she stood, her stance was more or less rigid and she lacked hand gestures that have the potential to hone in on a point. The effect left her looking somewhat uncomfortable and nervous.

Green had the potential to be a powerful speaker but didn’t quite use her stage presence to her advantage, leaving the playing field wide open.

Grossman capitalized on his strength: speaking.

He had an aggressive hold on the territory as he paced the stage and spoke animatedly.

Respecting the formalities:
Multiple times, Grossman was reminded by the moderator, Director of Administration Rudy Rivas, to remain within the two-minute response limit.

On various occasions, when the moderator would direct a question at Grossman, he, in turn, offered the first response to Green.

Sure, “ladies first” is a polite gesture, but if a candidate is called on to respond to a specific question, it is an unspoken courtesy that the candidate respect the moderator’s wishes.

Having alleged to have spent so much time at the capitol lobbying, we would assume Grossman had learned to respect the proceedings.

Or handle a microphone for that matter.

Presidential candidate Erika Green had good posture most of the debate, but started slouching as the night wore on. President Joseph Grossman went the other direction, beginning the night apparently inattentive, but perking up later on. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Cupping the microphone as if you were ready to verbalize a rap ballad rather than explain how to lower the cost of textbooks is not proper. President Grossman, I’mma let you finish, but in this setting you are a politician. You shouldn’t grip the microphone on the debate floor the same way you might grip your hairbrush while belting out your jam in the shower.

Spine straight, shoulders back:
What Green lacked in speaking performance, she made up for in attentiveness.

Prim and proper posture. Legs angled off to one side of the chair, feet crossed at the ankles. Green would have left Sunday school without a single bruised knuckle.

However, her form began to slip near the end of the debate. Green’s attention appeared to wander and she took advantage of the arm rest.

Grossman went the opposite direction.

He appeared slightly blasé at the beginning with his weight shifted to one side and head resting in the palm of his hand.

Perhaps acting as if your opponent does not exist as they speak is a strategy. Grossman plainly said that he did not even know who Green was before the election began.

Being frank is fine, but if this was true, would that not be more reason to make note of her ideas and goals?

Finally toward the end of the debate, Grossman appeared to perk up and began to take interest in what Green had to say.

Overall, it is apparent that both candidates house their strengths and weaknesses in different realms.

Perhaps the candidates were slightly caught off guard? It was, after all, Green’s first presidential debate. Grossman also explained that after months of working 70 hours per week, he had physical breakdown a week earlier.

Hopefully round two of the debate will keep the candidates upright in their chairs for the entirety of the event.

First debate focused on experience with noticeable ties to last year

March 29th, 2012 No comments

USGD President Joseph Grossman spoke heavily about how much he has done to help students this year while at the Arizona Capitol. (Madeline Pado/DD)

The first Downtown student government debate this election season was Tuesday, and both executive tickets took shots at each other, primarily over the other ticket’s experience or lack thereof.

While she doesn’t have experience in ASU student government, Presidential candidate Erika Green said she has enough experience from working with the Arizona Students’ Association to start making a difference. And what she and her ticket lack in knowledge, they make up for in new ideas.

On the other hand, USGD President Joseph Grossman said his experience this year will allow him to start fighting for students immediately, while Green would take “a semester and a half” to be brought up to speed. Grossman also said he has a close relationship with many movers and shakers at the Arizona Capitol and around ASU, so he immediately knows who to go to for a problem.

Sounding a little familiar?

Last year, experience was also key issue during debates. Then-presidential candidates Grossman, Director of Parliamentary Procedures Andres Cano and Diana Inzunza said they had enough experience to get the job done.

Cano’s experience was legislatively based. He had been a Freshman Senator and recently returned from an internship in Washington D.C. working with legislators.

Grossman said he was prepared for the job because of his contacts with lobbyists and legislators at the Capitol.

Inzunza had some experience in student government in high school, but was billed as the candidate who would bring a freshness of ideas to the campus.

Last year, Grossman won with 53 percent of the vote, Cano came in second with 39 percent and Inzunza only brought in 8 percent.

Point(s) of Information

  • Several members of the 2011 Downtown student government were in the audience Tuesday night: President Christian Vasquez, Director of Public Relations Beth Wischnia and Downtown Arizona Students’ Association Director Abby Wischnia.
  • The format of the debate wasn’t particularly friendly toward back-and-forth discourse between the candidates unless they asked to speak, which Grossman often did. Toward the end, the format became looser, which is when the candidates began getting a little testy.
  • Grossman had a Rick Perry-esque moment during the first question when he forgot the third point of his platform. His platform is the same as it was last year. It took him more than five seconds to remember after several exasperated sighs. This blunder was surprising considering how seemingly prepared he was for the rest of the debate.
  • Both Grossman and current Vice President of Policy David Bakardjiev had very different debates this year compared to last year. Last year, Grossman was remembered for yelling at the audience, while Bakardjiev’s workout clothes, gallon-jug of water and stumbling comments stuck in the crowd’s mind. To both of their credit, they apparently paid attention to voters from 2011. Bakardjiev came in a shirt and tie and maintained his points well, and while Grossman got noticeably louder during portions of the debate, he never crossed the threshold of yelling.
  • The posture and body language of the two presidential candidates were very different throughout the debate. A later post will look into this.

Point of Personal Privilege

One of my favorite parts of the debate didn’t involve the candidates. Standing in the back, it was often more entertaining to listen to the points and then watch the reactions of students sitting near me.

Some particularly intriguing reactions were from Barrett, the Honors College Sen. Jessica Boehm.

Boehm’s self-described grimaces often occurred while Grossman discussed his working relationship with the other members of USGD, specifically the senators.

Grossman’s comments ranged from his need to micromanage many initiatives USGD starts to how much he individually has done in uniting the four ASU campuses.

Boehm is the co-chair of the Universal Committee and has worked heavily throughout the semester on the universal constitution.

“When people take credit for things I do, it rubs me the wrong way,” Boehm said after the debate.

Since I was in the back, I didn’t see the reactions of any other senators, but several times during the debate USGD members would clap after Grossman’s answer to a question. This prompted a scolding from Director of Administration Rudy Rivas, who was moderating the debate.