It’s the Friday evening before ASUC election week, which can only mean one thing — and I’m not talking about Beat the Clock! It’s time for The Daily Californian’s annual Candidates Forum. Hundreds of students have gathered in Chan Shun Auditorium to hear how the executive hopefuls plan to “serve … every student, every year.” Of course, CalSERVE and Student Action won’t be the only parties represented. There are a whole slew of independent and third-party candidates present, such as those from SQUELCH! and DAAP. Stay tuned to this live blog for consistent (and perhaps snarky) commentary about the candidates’ platforms and presentation.
Watch the ASUC Candidates Forum live at the Daily Californian’s Ustream page.
Nick Myers, opinion editor of The Daily Californian, has kicked off the forum by explaining the format. First, there will be a discussion of the two ballot initiatives, and that will be followed by questions to executive candidates by the newspaper’s Senior Editorial Board.
The first ballot initiative discussion has begun regarding the renewal of AC Transit’s Class Pass. The Pass is currently $68 and is slated to be renewed at $78. Opponents say they “are not against the class pass” but rather are “against the idea there has been no negotiation with AC Transit.” Proponents, on the contrary, say “the price is a better deal than [if we had] negotiated ourselves.” Which side will get thrown under the bus? Find out next week!
Lynn Yu, campaign manager of the V.O.I.C.E. initiative to fund The Daily Californian, has advocated for the ballot measure, claiming that the newspaper may have to cut more days of printing without its passage. Kevin Cohen, a “proud member of the 41 other publications on campus,” on the contrary asserts that “students should not be held accountable for a business model that is failing.” He further worries that the initiative could compromise The Daily Californian’s editorial independence.
The executive candidate portion of the forum has begun! First, a candidate from the Defend Affirmative Action Party (DAAP) and one with the endorsement of both Student Action and CalSERVE are discussing their candidacy for the student advocate position. The candidates were asked if “they think the student advocate’s role extends beyond student conduct proceedings.” The very enthusiastic DAAP candidate pridefully replied by announcing his party’s occupation of Sproul Hall and citing it as an example of the direct action that his party will organize further if elected. Stacy Suh, who has been endorsed by both CalSERVE and Student Action, says the role should rather be more focused on educating students on their rights.
A major uproar has erupted in the lecture hall as academic affairs vice president candidates take the stage. Woodrow Currie of SQUELCH! has taken the stage dressed in a lab coat claiming to be “Dr. Emmett Brown,” a time-traveling scientist. First, candidates were asked what they would they do differently in the position than the current officials. Natalie Gavello of Student Action promises to “streamline” the office. Frank Luna of the Students for a Democratic University (SDU), on the other hand, disagrees, claiming that it shouldn’t “be the responsibility of a representative … to appoint someone to the Academic Senate.” Naomi Wilson of CalSERVE received enormous applause after promising more “transparency, visibility” in revamping “course curriculum, pass/no pass deadlines,” pointing to her current work in the Academic Senate.
While Student Action and CalSERVE candidates seem to be focused on streamlining the appointment process to the Academic Senate, Frank Luna sees the idea of appointment as inherently “undemocratic.” Meanwhile, Woodrow Currie (aka Dr. Emmett Brown) of SQUELCH! has yelled to the audience, “All of you made out with your moms when you were teenagers!”
External affairs vice president candidates have taken the stage. The first question is regarding communication with Berkeley City Council. Student Action candidate Shahryar Abbasi advocates the city’s redistricting plan so “people who walk in [students’] shoes” will represent them on the city level. Sydney Fang of CalSERVE, mentioning her experience with the City Council, also advocates the redistricting plan but says that it cannot be an “end-all-be-all.” Rather, the EAVP needs to be proactive in “mak[ing] the city accountable to our needs.” Isabel Sausjord of SDU, on the other hand, says that redistricting is not her main priority but rather intends to focus on facilitating affordable student housing and fighting against tuition hikes. Meanwhile, Graham Riley of SQUELCH! says he doesn’t know what external affairs are but claims to have Mark Yudof’s email password, hinting that it is very sexual.
The second question is whether the candidates support Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative. Isabel Sausjord promises to “empower students” through voter registration drives. Shahryar Abbasi concurs, strategizing to do “dorm storming” by running registration drives at dormitories. Isabel Sausjord opposes Brown’s tax plan, claiming the sales tax is regressive, but supports the proposed Millionaires Tax. Alisha Johnson of DAAP also agrees with the redistricting and tax plan but sees voting as the most important issue, similarly advocating an increase in student voter registration.
The executive vice president candidates have taken the stage to enormous applause. The first question pertains to how to improve the Commercial and Student Services Board. Anthony Galace of CalSERVE seeks to make the board more transparent, citing the shutting down of Eshleman Library and the acceptance of Subway as a business in Lower Sproul Plaza without student input. James Chang of SDU points to partisanship as a problem with past EVP officers, positing himself as an outsider with experience handling contracts. A ruckus has erupted as Mr. Chang said something inaudibly negative about CalSERVE candidate Anthony Galace. Justin Sayarath promises to ensure that the board’s decisions “reflect the values of our students” by increasing transparency on the board and working with students and professors from Haas.
The second question pertains to student groups’ transition from Eshleman Hall before its scheduled demolition later this year. James Chang of SDU admitted to be uneducated on the issue, citing his lack of experience. Jeremy Palmer of DAAP says that the transition will not be “part of [his] platform” but “part of [his] job.” Erik Krasner-Karpen of SQUELCH! instead answered with an experimental music performance featuring slides being projected. Anthony Galace of CalSERVE cites his experience and knowledge of the process, claiming to know it “like the back of his hand” and saying students shouldn’t “elect a rookie in crunch time.” Justin Sayarath of Student Action claims to have “served over 150 student groups,” promising to the “revamp classroom reservation process” and “streamline [the] senate funding process.” The answers to this question have gotten quite hostile, with boos and comments coming from the audience.
The candidates are so into “streamlining,” you’d think they’re building a plane! Erik Krasner-Karpen and other SQUELCH! cohorts have performed more experimental music with lyrics about “camptown ladies” and more projections. Both Anthony Galace and Justin Sayarath have promised more communication and efficiency in their roles. James Chang of SDU has asserted that his group will be fighting for students’ interests regardless of whether they are elected to the ASUC. Justin Sayarath snarls that “some of us are underestimating how long senate meetings can be,” citing his experience as a senator. James Chang again receives hisses as he criticizes Justin Sayarath. So much hate!
The presidential candidates have taken the stage. The first question is, “The ASUC Auxiliary now reports to student affairs rather than administration and finance. How do you think the process has been handled thus far, and how would you approach it moving forward?” DAAP candidate Matt Williams acknowledges his ignorance on the subject and rants some Occupy Wall Street mantra. Elliot Goldstein, an independent candidate, claims to be running for “president/chancellor” and plans to have a “more direct statutory role in how the university is run” than previous presidents. Connor Landgraf of Student Action also promises to increase transparency and to work with the new chancellor to ensure that students’ interests are heard. Honest Chung of SDU has erupted in shouting about inequality, yelling “fuck the government” and claiming that the forum thus far has been a “circle jerk.” CalSERVE candidate Andy Albright wants to move ASUC money “out of Bank of America to a more conscious bank” and fight for a more autonomous ASUC. Noah Ickowitz of SQUELCH! has called out a former president, although not mentioning the name, saying there has been a lack of communication.
DAAP members have begun shouting “Your questions suck” to the moderator as DAAP candidate Matt Williams has begun talking without waiting for the question. The second question is: “What do you think of Chancellor Birgeneau’s tenure, and what are your expectations for his successor?” Noah Ickowitz prefaces his answer by saying that he does not want to sound like he’s defending Chancellor Birgeneau, but he believes that he has had a tough tenure. So, as president, he has promised to increase communication between the students and administration. Honest Chung has continued with more F-bombs without much content. Connor Landgraf echoes Noah Ickowitz’s answer. Elliot Goldstein instead focused his answer on shared governance between faculty and administrators, promising to pioneer such a model for student shared governance. Andy Albright of CalSERVE criticizes Birgeneau for not understanding that peaceful protest is good and says he will increase communication between the next chancellor and the student body.
The third question is, “In her time as ASUC president, Vishalli Loomba has faced a number of issues relating to free speech, including the ‘Increase Diversity Bake Sale’ and Louis Farrakhan’s visit to campus. What are your thoughts on the way she handled those events, and what would you do if faced with similar situations during your term?” Elliott Goldstein dodges the question, continuing his mantra of shared governance. Noah Ickowitz of SQUELCH! says he would not have sent out an email condemning Berkeley College Republicans’ “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” but rather would save those mass communications for tuition hikes. Honest Chung says the bake sale served as a distraction from more important issues like Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis, asking “Where was the ASUC?” Matt Williams of DAAP claims he would be the best candidate for president because he “doesn’t need a letter of recommendation for grad school.” Andy Albright of CalSERVE has promised to appoint a campus climate director to coordinate communication between offices that deal with microaggression.
The fourth and final question is, “If you had five minutes to speak with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, what single question would you ask him, what would you want to say to him and why?” Andy Albright says he was ask about “real issues” like student safety, affordable education and LGBT issues, ending with the catchphrase that “we have the No. 1 university in the world — we should have the No. 1 student government.” Noah Ickowitz says he “would ask him what he things he has done well and what he thinks he could have done better” to guide how he would act as ASUC president. Connor Landgraf of Student Action says he would ask what the chancellor was doing on Nov. 9 and why he responded to the protests so poorly. It’s called Asia, Connor. Matt Williams of DAAP would demand that the chancellor drop the charges against protesters and give a list of demands. Elliott Goldstein continues with his advocacy of shared governance between students and administrators. Honest Chung of SDU quite honestly claims that he would chew out Chancellor Birgeneau for his lack of effort in fighting alongside students.
With that, the Candidates Forum has ended! We hope you have been politically enlightened and vote with your new knowledge next week!