CalSERVE sweeps all 4 partisan executive ASUC positions

ASUC Senate will retain similar proportions by party

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Ariel Hayat/Senior Staff

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Hundreds of people filed into Wheeler Auditorium on Thursday night to witness the results of this year’s ASUC elections, driving the room to a fever pitch of cheers as votes were tallied on a projector screen.

For the first time since 2008, the CalSERVE party swept the four traditionally partisan positions; it also retained its plurality in the ASUC Senate. CalSERVE is one of the campus’s two most prominent parties and traditionally aims to serve underrepresented communities.

Yordanos Dejen, Lavanya Jawaharlal, Marium Navid and Melissa Hsu won the president, executive vice president, external affairs vice president and academic affairs vice president positions, respectively. Independent candidate Leah Romm won the fifth executive officer position, student advocate, which in recent history has been nonpartisan.

More than 12,000 students voted in the elections, a higher turnout than last year’s 11,926 people, although lower than 2013’s record turnout of  15,430 voters.

“During our time in office, we have never grown complacent,” said Denim Ohmit, the CalSERVE media coordinator. “Governing our student body is not easy.”

Student Action ran an almost-full executive slate, leaving out only an AAVP candidate. Last year, Student Action, which traditionally represents engineering, Greek and Jewish communities, ran a single executive candidate, current ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula.

After redistribution of the votes — the elections are conducted with ranked-choice voting — Milad Razavi, Student Action’s presidential candidate, won about 36 percent of the vote in the six-candidate race. Student Action candidate Paul Lee won about 35 percent of the vote in the three-person race for executive vice president, and Student Action candidate Vinay Ramesh won about 38 percent of the vote in the three-person race for external affairs vice president.

elections_aelshahawiDejen, Jawaharlal and Navid all won with about 50 percent of the vote for their respective positions. Hsu, whose opponents were a satirical candidate from SQUELCH! and independent Jay Walker, who did not campaign, won with almost 70 percent of the vote.

“The results may not have been what we wanted, but moving forward, everyone’s going to do amazing things,” said Student Action party co-chair Emily Idell. “Everyone goes into elections with good intentions for the school.”

During the unity circle that the party typically holds after election tabulations, members of CalSERVE reflected on the evolution of their party. Throughout the campaign, the party has consistently highlighted its executive slate as the first that consists entirely of women of color.

“This is history,” Dejen said, as she spoke to supporters from within the circle. “Y’all made history.”

After the tabulations, the Student Action executive candidates hugged supporters in the auditorium, later joining a gathering of supporters on Memorial Glade to cheer for their party and reflect on their campaigning experiences.

According to Student Action senator-elect Andre Luu, negative comments he saw written about him on social media during campaigning made him doubt whether he would win the election.

“I can’t believe it happened,” Luu said. “I poured my heart and soul into Sproul, and I’m going to pour my heart and soul into senate.”

CalSERVE won eight seats in the 20-member senate, the same number as last year. These were won by Wes Adrianson, Reia Cho, Alana Banks, Benedict Llave, Aanchal Chugh, Kathy Tran, Boomer Vicente and Diana Nguyen.

Student Action will also retain the same proportion of senate members, with seven seats going to Luu, Jason Tang, Alicia Lau, Grace Ho Jung Kim, Will Morrow, Rachel Schuster and Karthik Prasad.

The results of both parties showed successful branching out from the communities traditionally associated with them, as Cho ran on platforms representing engineers and Kim advocated in her platforms for undocumented students.

The winners of the remaining senate seats included one Cooperative Movement Party candidate, Sheena Paul, whose party last year ran with CalSERVE. Two seats went to independent candidates: Sumayyah Din, who was backed by the campus’s Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian Coalition, and Cuahuctemoc Salinas.

SQUELCH! candidates Sina Rashidi and Zoe Brouns won the last two seats. SQULECH! ran a full executive slate of satirical candidates in addition to three serious senate candidates. Although the party began as satirical, it has consistently held serious senate seats in the past few years, winning a record-breaking three seats in last year’s election.

Jake Fineman, the party’s creative director, garnered 746 votes after running for ASUC president as a monarch.

The Defend Affirmative Action Party ran candidates for the positions of president and student advocate, both of whom also ran for senate, as well as two other senate candidates, but did not win any seats. A candidate from the newly formed BASED. party, Pranay Kumar Chaurasia, and independent candidate Nic Jaber both ranked below Fineman in the presidential race.

Also up for a vote in this election were four referendums and one constitutional amendment. Four of the measures passed: the amendment aiming to improve the ASUC Constitution’s clarity, a fee to raise money for wellness services, a fee to provide opportunities for nontraditional students and a referendum expressing support for reinvestment in solar energy.

The Bringing Life to the UC Berkeley Experience Fee Referendum, which would have increased the ASUC student activity fee, lost by a margin of 501 votes, with nearly one-third of the voter base abstaining.

Staff writer Heyun Jeong contributed to this report.

Melissa Wen is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.