Defend Affirmative Action Party runs 4 candidates for ASUC election

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The Defend Affirmative Action Party, or DAAP, announced four senate candidates — two of whom are also running for executive positions — for the spring 2018 ASUC elections.

Freshman Stephanie Gutierrez and junior Casey Leeds are running for president and student advocate, respectively. The two will also be running for senate, along with senior Richard Alvarado and freshman Mary Carrasco.

DAAP ran six senate candidates, three of whom also ran for executive positions, in the spring 2017 ASUC elections.

The student political party has had close ties with By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, an activist organization defending affirmative action and immigrant rights. This round of candidates is no different, as all have worked with BAMN, according to Gutierrez.

“The most inspiring thing is that the DAAP candidates are real leaders already in their own right,” BAMN organizer and Oakland resident Caroline Wong said. “Our people are leaders of a movement all year round.”

All of the candidates are running on the same, slatewide platforms: pressuring the government to remove President Donald Trump from office, defending DACA, reinstating affirmative action, reinforcing Berkeley’s status as a sanctuary city and holding perpetrators of sexual assault accountable, according to Gutierrez.

To provide a campus sanctuary for undocumented families in need of safety in Berkeley, Leeds suggested using Eshleman Hall — the ASUC’s main building.

The candidates said their past experience organizing protests has prepared them for work within the ASUC. Most recently, Leeds and Gutierrez worked together to protest the ICE arrest in Berkeley on March 16.

An English major, Leeds said her belief in the power of activism was affirmed when she participated in one of the demonstrations against Trump’s travel ban at the Los Angeles airport.

“I saw collective action literally physically overturn executive orders,” Leeds said. “I know if we build a movement on campus, … we can get our objectives obtained.”

Through her work in feminist activism, Leed said she has learned how to organize, and has worked extensively to help women access reproductive resources. Expanding on DAAP’s platform to protect victims of sexual violence, Leeds argued to “expose” and name perpetrators of sexual assault.

Gutierrez, who plans to pursue global studies, said she is running for president to bring DAAP’s demands to the forefront of the ASUC. At her high school in Claremont, California, she helped lead the feminist club, among other volunteer clubs. At Berkeley, she said she has led various protests and knows how to take “control of a situation.”

“I’ve always been interested in getting into places where we can have discussion and confront the issues,” Gutierrez said. “What matters to me is that people are treated with respect and dignity.”

Carrasco, who is from an immigrant community in inner-city Los Angeles, said her time organizing with BAMN over the past year has helped her come out of her shell. She added that she hopes the ASUC can have a stronger connection with Chancellor Carol Christ and better communicate the opinions of students.

“If we all get together as a community, we can reach our goals, instead of just having to rely on politicians and people who hold certain positions,” Carrasco said.

An anthropology major, Alvarado ran for ASUC president as a DAAP candidate in spring 2017. His goals at the time were to increase diversity in the ASUC and to protect UC Berkeley’s community and students from negative federal government policies by making the campus a sanctuary in practice.

He could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Voting for the ASUC elections will be held April 9-11.

Hannah Piette is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Hannah_PietteDC.