Defend Affirmative Action Party announces ASUC executive, senate slates


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The Defend Affirmative Action Party, or DAAP, released its executive and senate slates for the ASUC spring election season.

DAAP is a student political party closely connected with activist organization By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, and made up of civil rights and immigrants’ rights activists, according to Yvette Felarca, DAAP co-manager. Richard Alvarado, Gabriela Takahashi and Asahi Hardy will run for the positions of president, external affairs vice president and student advocate, respectively. The candidates will also be running for senate as well, along with Mercedes Cunningham, Abraheem Shehata and Bianca Watt.

“All are running not out of expediency, but on their commitment and their principle,” Felarca said. “(They’re) not career politicians — (they’re) students who are committed to powering and strengthening across minority communities and the student body as a whole.”

This past year, DAAP candidates have focused on building a movement to mobilize against President Donald Trump, Felarca said. All of their platforms include policies highlighting reform for bringing underrepresented communities together and keeping them safe on campus.

“DAAP’s platforms still focus on issues they’ve had in the past,” said campus senior Samuel Wasserman, an active member of BAMN. “This year, the only thing that changed was the imminent threat of Donald Trump.”

Alvarado, a junior transfer majoring in anthropology, is running in order to help increase representation in the ASUC of people of color and first-generation and transfer students like himself. His main goal is to make UC Berkeley a sanctuary campus in practice by “obstructing policies” from the national administration that negatively affect UC Berkeley’s community and students.

Takahashi, a junior ethnic studies major, is running because she said she can make a difference on campus by helping students who are impacted by the Trump administration.

“Since we’re student representatives, we need to talk about our students who are going to be affected,” Takahashi said. “Berkeley is supposed to be a sanctuary school, but how can we say that when we don’t talk about it or put it into action?”

Takahashi added that she wants to bring the ASUC closer to communities within the Bay Area such as Oakland.

Hardy, a junior majoring in integrative biology, said he is also running in order to protect underrepresented students on campus.

“We have to fend for ourselves, and we find ourselves underrepresented,” Hardy said. “DAAP is a big reason why there are students of color on campus — not enough has been done to make us feel like we belong and we’re wanted on campus.”

Asahi Hardy, a campus sophomore majoring in integrative biology, said if elected as student advocate, he intends to provide students with a voice to help them understand how the campus administration operates. In addition, Hardy said he hopes to personally talk to students to help them understand that each student has the potential to make change occur on campus.

“Being at a top public university, our student government should be leading the fight against having a president like Trump,” Hardy said. “That cannot be understated. We are the future of the country.”

Despite not having any prior experience with the ASUC, Hardy said he is confident in his leadership abilities. Hardy was the president of his high school’s business academy and also participated in a club that lobbied for legislation to curb underage drug abuse.

Mercedes Cunningham, a campus junior sociology major, said she is running for senate in response to the national election and the Milo Yiannopoulos protests that occurred Feb 1. Additionally, she plans to use the ASUC Senate as a platform to protect the rights of undocumented and Muslim students.

Cunningham said the Trump administration has threatened the status of sanctuary cities, and the campus should work to ensure the safety of undocumented students.

If elected, Cunningham would continue the “Don’t Walk on By” program spearheaded by BAMN. Cunningham said she would try to recruit volunteers who would be willing to either house undocumented students in the event of an on-campus raid or help mobilize a protest against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at a moment’s notice.

Additionally, Cunningham said she will tackle the issues of sexual assault and racial discrimination.

Watt said she is committed to building a student and community based movement to end sexism and racism on campus. Building off the party’s main platform of supporting minority groups, Watt said she will defend students’ right to free speech and freedom to protest, “especially against hate speech.”

Abraheem Shehata is a freshman running for senate who intends to advocate for students to “stop the normalization” of Trump’s rhetoric by “holding the university accountable.”

All of the candidates decided to run campaigns because their political views aligned with those of DAAP. A DAAP candidate has not won a senate seat in 10 years and has never won an executive position.

“The party’s goal is to set the political agenda of the ASUC,” said Felarca. “Stopping Trump and everything he’s trying to do to UC Berkeley and for all public education … any real student leadership ought to build (a) movement to get him out.”

Francesca Munsayac and Jessíca Jiménez at [email protected].

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