The University of California Student Association elected its 2015-16 executive officers Friday, including a UC Berkeley student to serve as the association’s president.
The elections took place during the organization’s annual Student Congress meeting in Irvine, California. Candidates were nominated Thursday, and people gave public comment at Friday’s meeting in support of the candidates.
UC Berkeley student Kevin Sabo, former chair of the UCSA Board of Directors, was elected president. He took over as acting president this summer after the former president stepped down. Guillermo Rogel from UC Santa Cruz took over as chair.
“It’s time to breathe new life into the student movement of the UC, to start accomplishing new victories and new goals,” Sabo said during his election speech Friday.
Sabo is a fourth-year transfer student majoring in peace and conflict studies.
Dahlia Salem — secretary of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, or SSCCC — spoke on Sabo’s behalf during public comment. She cited Sabo’s experience as a transfer student as instrumental to his engagement in student advocacy.
As board chair last year, Sabo aimed to increase student engagement. He brought UC Davis into the UCSA, increasing the portion of UC students represented by the organization from 79 percent to 91 percent.
He also modernized the UCSA’s governing documents, which he said he will continue to pursue as president.
“UCSA has been around for five decades,” Sabo said Friday. “We need to start being mindful of what we’re going to be doing in the next five decades.”
Sabo also said he hoped to improve the communication between the UCSA’s standing committees and stakeholders, such as the academic senate and faculty associations. He said he would make himself available to student governments and outside groups, including by visiting each member campus at least once per semester.
“Students aren’t going to win things on their own,” Sabo said Friday. “We need to start building bridges and getting people across those bridges so that whether it’s faculty or staff or members of the public or administration, we’re able to get things done.”
Sabo added he would continue work on the UCSA’s Fund the UC program, which aims to make the UC system affordable and accessible through a long-term funding solution. According to Sabo, if the group wants to pass legislature associated with this program or otherwise, students will need to mobilize now to place it on the 2016 ballot.
“We cannot allow that window of opportunity to close,” Sabo said during his speech.
Additionally, Sabo said he wanted to “bring the UCSA out of its isolation,” describing how initiatives such as last year’s fight against the proposed tuition hikes would be more effective if done in cooperation with other student groups.
Rebecca Ora of UC Santa Cruz was elected treasurer, and Yanira Pineda of UC Santa Barbara was elected vice chair. Mohsin Mirza of UC Santa Barbara was elected chair of the Undergraduate Committee. Danielle Bermudez of UC Merced was elected chair of the Graduate Professional Committee, and Iman Sylvain of UC Berkeley was elected chair of the University Affairs Committee.
Thursday’s meeting also included updates regarding UC finance, campus issues, student regents, the UC Office of the President and the SSCCC. A new initiative to allow students to opt out of voluntary member fees directly was introduced and well received by the Congress, according to Sabo.