Student Action announces executive candidates for the upcoming elections

The Student Action executive slate, with candidates Ryan Kang, Safeena Mecklai, Rafi Lurie and Chen-Chen Huo, along with a CalSERVE senate candidate, allegedly violated campaign bylaws.
Student Action/Courtesy
The Student Action executive slate, with candidates Ryan Kang, Safeena Mecklai, Rafi Lurie and Chen-Chen Huo, along with a CalSERVE senate candidate, allegedly violated campaign bylaws.

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Student Action announced Sunday night that ASUC senator Rafi Lurie will be its nominee for president in the upcoming spring elections.

Senators Chen-Chen Huo and Ryan Kang will run as the party’s executive vice president and academic affairs vice president candidates, respectively. Safeena Mecklai, the ASUC’s vote coalition deputy in the EAVP office and a former senator, is running for external affairs vice president.

Lurie, a sophomore studying electrical engineering and computer science, is also a member of the Delta Chi fraternity, the Jewish Student Union and the Computer Science Undergraduate Association.

The greatest task facing the next ASUC president, Lurie said, is the responsibility of forming a close relationship with incoming Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

“I will make it my priority to establish an equitable working relationship with the new Chancellor, setting the tone for students as the top priority for his upcoming term,” Lurie said in an email. “As the face of UC Berkeley to the world, the President working with the new Chancellor as an equal partner is vital for the student voice on the administrative, system-wide, and state levels.”

If elected president, Lurie said he will focus on making the ASUC more transparent and accountable to students, revitalizing Cal spirit and creating a more student-centered university.

As a senator, Lurie and his team created a program called Celebrate Cal — an event slated to happen on Memorial Glade in late March. The day is meant to foster a more collaborative student community by bringing a wide selection of student groups and organizations together, the statement said.

Huo, a junior and a business major, has served the Cal community as the social chair of the pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, according to the press release.

Huo’s platform goals include streamlining and expanding resources provided by the ASUC to student groups as well as making sure that the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project is catering to student needs.

“We are paying for more than half of a $223 million project, and I will work to maximize our student voice in shaping how our new student union looks and functions while maintaining transparency throughout the years of construction,” Huo said.

Huo said he also aims to stimulate student innovation and entrepreneurship among students on campus.

Mecklai, a junior and a media studies major with a double minor in public policy and theater, currently serves as the ASUC vote coalition deputy in the EAVP office as well as the ASUC student resources deputy in the EVP office. The ASUC Vote Coalition registered more than 8,000 students to vote in the 2012 elections, largely because of her actions, the statement said.

Mecklai stated that she wants to be the next EAVP because of her belief in the potential of the student body to accomplish great things.

“With the passage of Proposition 30 at the state level and Measure R at the local level, I’ve seen that when students work together to advocate for our higher education, we can accomplish incredible feats,” Mecklai said in an email.

Mecklai’s platform seeks to elect a student to Berkeley City Council, improve the effectiveness and reach of the external affairs office to “promote awareness of global issues” and to empower the student voice on campus in the tradition of Prop. 30, she said.

Kang, a sophomore and a business administration major, also serves as the associate chair of the East Asian Union Coalition. Kang’s work with the AAVP office helped bring about the 24/7 study hours at the Student Learning Center on campus, according to the press release.

Kang’s platform is focused on improving student access to career resources — especially those geared toward humanities and social science majors — and providing better access to green, nonprofit and entertainment jobs.

His other platform goals include working with CalCentral to consolidate Bear Facts, Bspace and Tele-BEARS as well as increasing student engagement with the ASUC.

“I want students to understand things like the Academic Senate and Operational Excellence so that they can be more engaged with their academics and make the changes that they want to see,” Kang said. “With budget cuts in our present and future, I want to see the AAVP office take an active role in ensuring that the quality of our education is not compromised.”

Joey Lam, the party signatory for Student Action, said that he believes these four candidates would continue to uphold the party’s values and goals.

“They are four of the most intelligent and driven people I know at Cal, and their goals speak to their incredible vision for the ASUC and UC Berkeley as a whole,” Lam said in an email.

DJ Sellarole covers the ASUC. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @DJSellarole.