BBQ and politics: Meeting the AS general election candidates


Students gather around candidates Autumn Alaniz-Wiggins, to the left, and Chris Sullivan, to the right. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 22.

Light, rumbling pop music could be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as students wandered past Meriam Library meeting some of the Associated Students general election candidates during the Meet the Candidates BBQ on Wednesday, hosted by First-Year Leadership Opportunity.

Multiple black-clothed, foldable tables ran the length of the event area. Two tables manned by AS students held up black and white signs on either end of the Trinity Commons saying “Start here.”

Students sit at tables at Trinity Commons. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 22.

The rest of the tables served as eating areas and platforms for AS election candidates to talk about their campaign goals and meet fellow students who could become their constituents.

A handful of the 24 candidates, including Vincent Sy, running for vice president of facilities and services, and Chris Navarrete, running for commissioner of student engagement and advocacy, among others, were at the event.

Throughout the event small crowds gathered around candidate tables. It was clear that candidates were thriving while talking to their fellow students. Chris Sullivan, running for director of social justice and equity, said, “I’m in my natural element.”

Sullivan could be heard talking about what the director of social justice and equity position means.

“[As the director] You’re the bridge to the community,” Sullivan told those around him. “You try to get people to feel connected.”

Autumn Alaniz-Wiggins, running for AS president, could be heard telling her audience about her life experiences, and how that will help her connect with students.

“It’s great getting to talk to people and hear their stories, and being able to share mine,” Alaniz-Wiggins said.

Students’ incentive for listening to the candidates was a neon stamp, which would deliver them to the light at the end of the tunnel, the BBQ buffet wafting glorious smells throughout the small area.

The BBQ buffet waits for students to fill up their stamp cards. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 22.

Attendees had to obtain a total of five stamps in order to get free food. The stamps could only be granted after talking to candidates. Upon collecting all five, students headed to tables full of burgers and sides.

Students could also turn in the fully stamped card for a chance to win a $100 student store gift card.

Karla Ahumada, a second year business and crop science major, came to the event to see her friend who is running, but Ahumada said that she liked being able to hear about all the candidates’ goals for the future.

“Last year I didn’t know over half of the people on the ballot, so getting to know candidates today was beneficial,” Ahumada said. “It improves my position as a voter.”

Some candidates have plans to continue getting out and talking to students. Alaniz-Wiggins says she will be going to frats to talk to people, and she will also be working on endorsements. 

Zion Fozo, running for college of behavioral and social sciences senator, plans to talk with advocacy groups and friends to further their campaign. They will also be hanging up posters on campus.

Most candidates had QR codes for attendees to scan to learn more about them. Others had flyers they handeded out to anyone passing by, some even had candy such as Hershey’s chocolate kisses and Jelly Belly lollipops.

AS is set to host two more events giving students the opportunity to talk to candidates: Quiz the Candidates, a Q&A session on March 29 and Election Extravaganza on Election Day, April 4.

To learn more about the 2023 AS general election, go here.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].