UC Student Association elects executive officers, including president

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Tracy Lam/File

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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.

Contact Rachel Lew at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Rlew12C.

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  • Kevin Sabo

    So spiteful, Dan!

    I’m glad that at least you can like your own comments otherwise they wouldn’t get very much love. :/

    • Dan Spitzer

      Seriously, Kevin, how sad that you’ve remained at the least silent when student government has continued to single out and bash but one country in the world, Israel. With all the tragic loss of life which has befallen so many societies in the Middle East and Africa, for the planet’s sole Jewish state to be the incessant target is nothing short of anti-Semitism. I suspect you don’t see it this way, do you? And I fail to comprehend how someone bright enough to get into Cal can be oblivious to this obvious measure of disturbing discrimination.
      I am aware that many students in Peace and Conflict Studies are members of, or are supportive of SJP. WTF have they learned and why are they so bigoted?
      This saddens me. What a waste of an education at an otherwise fine public university…

      • Kevin Sabo

        How have I remained silent? I chaired a board made up of elected representatives from throughout the system. I neither have a vote nor even veto authority of the UCSA Board of Directors.

        For the record, I’ve never gone to a SJP meeting. But continue making this baseless judgments about me without knowing anything beyond what you deduce from student newspaper articles. You know how it thrills me.

        • Dan Spitzer

          If you chair a board, yet remain silent in the face of outright bigotry toward a segment of the university constituency, that is tantamount to an affirmation of student government’s untoward actions.
          History has aptly demonstrated that silence in the face of discrimination is a form of complicity. Sadly, I wish I were wrong but I doubt if you realize what I am attempting to convey here…

          • Kevin Sabo

            I get what you’re trying to convey. Disagreeing with you is not the equivalent of being incapable of comprehending you.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Of course you are right and I apologize to you for making such an extreme statement…

          • Kevin Sabo

            As a Peace and Conflict Studies major, I recognize there has to be a willingness for the conflict to be resolved on both sides. It’s apparent neither side has lost enough nor become weary enough of war to even entertain the idea of peace. It doesn’t seem there’s anything else to do besides wait.

  • Kevin Sabo

    Apparently chairing a meeting without a vote where divestment passes makes me a “BDS activist”!

    Who would’ve known?

  • Definitely not a good representative for UC Berkeley. We could have done better than picking another BDS activist.