Q&A with ASUC President DeeJay Pepito

Calserve Presidential Candidate
Jan Flatley-Feldman/File

As the first CalSERVE ASUC president in four years, DeeJay Pepito embarks on a new year of challenges and opportunities. Her goals in office include prioritizing campus safety and addressing sexual assault policies. She also hopes to improve the quality of student services and make sure that the administration is accountable to the student body. But who is DeeJay Pepito? The Daily Cal sat down with Pepito to find out more about who she is and who she will be as ASUC president.

The Daily Californian: How has the experience of being ASUC president been so far?

DeeJay Pepito: All summer, I’ve been hard at work to make sure I fully transition into this role and get acclimated to the new responsibilities and opportunities I have. I decided to not take summer school and stay in Berkeley to focus on the ASUC and what my vision and goals are. It ended up being a full-time, 9-5 job for me, and I spent a lot of time doing my introductory and transition standing meetings with different administrators so that I can help the ASUC and student body navigate our university better and understand the different conversations that departments all over campus are having. Whether students are around or not in the summertime, the university doesn’t stop working, so I really tried hard to make sure I was at the table for different campus decisions happening.

DC: What are your goals for the year?

DP: The ASUC Office of the President will be focusing on an array of issues. We’ll definitely be fully implementing the platforms I ran on, and those are well on their way in the planning process. My main goal will be changing the culture and conversation of sexual assault on campus. As a whole, the ASUC Office of the President this year will be an ASUC executive office that this student body has never seen before, and I give you my word on that.

DC: What are some of the biggest challenges you think you’ll face this year?

DP: Everyone has different priorities and concerns. Being ASUC president also gives me the privilege to participate in conversations and decisions that other students don’t. I think it’s very difficult to understand the scope of what the entire ASUC is doing in orchestra, but specifically, it’s very hard to see what the ASUC president is doing, because much of what I do is hard to make visible to the larger campus. The biggest challenge will be reassuring the student body that concerns are being heard and work is being done to really address them.

DC: Who do you call when you are most stressed out?

DP: I have a small and close circle of friends and family that understand what I’m going through, and so they know to just listen and let me vent if I’m stressed, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Sometimes, I just need to be validated for my feelings, just like everyone else. A lot of the time, I call my partner or my mom and I ask them to just talk to me about anything so that I can take a step back and just listen to something completely unrelated to Cal and the ASUC; that also helps me to calm down and unwind.

DC: What do you like to do in your free time?

DP: Catch my breath. This role is really fast-paced, so if I ever get a free moment, which is rare, then usually I need that time to process and regroup.

DC: Who inspires you?

DP: Women, especially women of color, who are in leadership positions and work in male-dominated careers, offices and staffs. It takes a great deal of resilience to be a woman of color and be successful.