External affairs vice president candidates lay out their diverging goals for the position

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Looking to improve the lives of students in spaces beyond the campus, Nuha Khalfay and Derek Topper are both running for ASUC external affairs vice president, or EAVP, with different approaches to the job.

Khalfay is running with CalSERVE, while Topper, who is a former Daily Californian distribution analyst, is running as an independent candidate. EAVP is a position that involves working with both city and state government officials to represent the ASUC on external issues.

Through her work as an ASUC senator and chair of the finance committee, Khalfay is involved in student and local government. She also acts as the chair of the city of Berkeley’s Community Health Commission, largely working on issues related to the proposed closure of Alta Bates Medical Center.

Khalfay has divided her platform into three main sections: improving student accessibility to the midterm elections, “State of the UC” and “Our Campus, Our City, Our Community.”

To improve access to midterm elections, Khalfay wants to make national election day a holiday to make it easier for students to vote and establish voter registration stations across campus and student housing locations.

The “State of the UC” platform contains three main components: more active engagement from the UC Board of Regents, “Time’s Up UC,” which focuses on sexual misconduct-related policies and “Fund the UC,” which aims to combat tuition hikes.

When asked why he decided to run for EAVP, Topper, who is a former distribution analyst at The Daily Californian, answered that he thinks it is “preposterous” that there are candidates running unopposed for important positions in student government.

A general frustration with the ASUC is a central theme of Topper’s campaign — the first sentence of his statement in the 2018 ASUC Voting Guide reads that the ASUC is “terribly managed.”

“In my time at Cal, I’ve seen the ASUC Senate pass bills that don’t have to do with UC-Berkeley,” Topper said in an email. “I’ve seen our representatives spend a lot of time … on issues that only affect a small subset of the Berkeley community.”

As far as changes and improvements Topper wants to make to the ASUC, Topper said in the email that he didn’t want to outline specific changes just yet.

“I’m not gonna propose any specific changes because I don’t know what the student populace wants,” Topper said in the email. “It’s unfair to assume that my ideas would all get enacted so I’d like to see what the students want and I plan on putting out surveys over the summer.”

Khalfay’s goals include working on several specific policy areas. The “Our Campus, Our City, Our Community” portion of Khalfay’s platform focuses heavily on Alta Bates and affordable housing.

When dealing with Alta Bates, Khalfay said she is concentrated on encouraging students to be more involved.

“My platform is focused on how can we, as students, continue to be engaged in this process,” Khalfay said. “This is the only emergency room between Vallejo and Oakland, basically. This is an issue that all students can get behind.”

Current EAVP Rigel Robinson, while not familiar with Topper or his campaign, is highly enthusiastic about Khalfay and her candidacy.

“Nuha is a rockstar,” Robinson said. “She knows what’s up. She’s been doing the right work in the right spaces to prepare her for this role.”

Overall, Robinson said he thinks Khalfay is ready to serve as EAVP.

“She is incomparably overprepared for this role,” Robinson said.

Unlike his established CalSERVE opponent, Topper is running as an independent because he doesn’t like the political party system and thinks the students deserve a choice.

“I think the general student body can have better ideas than what just one guy comes up with at 2 am,” Topper said in his statement.

Contact Luke Kopetsky at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @LukeKopetsky.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article failed to disclose that Derek Topper formerly worked at The Daily Californian.