Platforms, fee referendums debated at Daily Cal’s ASUC Candidates Forum

Anna Vignet/Senior Staff
CalSERVE senator and candidate for ASUC President Andrew Albright speaks alongside a number of the other presidential candidates at The Daily Californians ASUC Candidates Forum on Friday night.

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ASUC executive position candidates were met with shouting, snaps and cheers at The Daily Californian’s ASUC Candidates Forum Friday as they spoke about their goals if elected to office.

At the annual forum, executive candidates from Student Action, CalSERVE, Defend Affirmative Action Party, Students for a Democratic University and SQUELCH! all spoke about increasing the visibility of the student government and student input, but differed on the best way to accomplish this goal.

The forum began with representatives speaking about the two fee referendums that will appear on the ballot.

The Class Pass referendum would extend the campus contract with AC Transit and would increase over seven years to an $86 semesterly fee. Graduate Assembly representative Philippe Marchand — speaking on behalf of the pass — said that because the changes would not go into effect until 2013, students can vote now without the fear of losing the pass altogether.

But Seth Zawila —  who spoke against the referendum — said there was no reliable data to confirm how many students use the pass and that the ASUC senate needs to renegotiate a better deal with AC Transit.

The Daily Californian’s V.O.I.C.E. referendum would charge students $2 semester to help sustain its print operations, which are threatened by structural shifts in the journalism industry that have led print ad sales to drop dramatically, according to campaign manager Lynn Yu. Yu said it is “extremely realistic” that the Daily Cal will have to cut more days of print if the referendum does not pass.

In opposition, CalTV Co-executive Director Kevin Cohen said students “should not be held accountable for a business model that is failing.” Cohen added that the fee could lead to a Daily Cal monopoly on the spread of information.

Next, candidates vying for the student advocate position answered questions about the role of the office beyond student conduct proceedings and the Campus Code of Student Conduct.

David Douglass —  a proxy for Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Victor Martinez —  spoke about the need for an advocate who will “mobilize action” and cited examples of campus activism he and members of his party have participated in. Stacy Suh, an independent candidate endorsed by both CalSERVE and Student Action, said the role needed to focus on educating students on their rights.

Academic affairs vice president candidates reiterated platform goals to increase participation in the campus division of the faculty Academic Senate. Student Action candidate Natalie Gavello said she wanted to “streamline” the AAVP office and standardize bylaws to quickly establish students in the Academic Senate, while CalSERVE candidate Naomi Wilson said she has already laid the groundwork to increase student representation by speaking to members of the campus administration.

Students for a Democratic University candidate Frank Luna said he felt representatives sent to the Academic Senate should be “elected by the entire student body” as opposed to the current appointment system.

External affairs vice president candidates then discussed state legislation and the possibility of a student supermajority district in the city of Berkeley. All of the candidates said city redistricting was an important goal, except Students for a Democratic University candidate Isabel Sausjord, who said the plan could separate students from the rest of the city.

Candidates for the executive vice president position spoke about student groups’ transition out of Eshleman Hall in anticipation of its impending demolition. Students for a Democratic University candidate James Chang said he did not know much about the transition, but could still advocate for student groups. Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Jeremy Palmer said it was not part of his platform, but part of the job to assist with the transition of student groups. Palmer said he helped oversee his community college student center being torn down and the transition for student groups.

 “I’ve done it, I’ve been there, I know what it entails.” Palmer said.

CalSERVE candidate Anthony Galace said he was “the only candidate on this stage that knows … this process,” but Student Action candidate Justin Sayarath said he has worked extensively with student groups and knows “what exactly our student organizations need.”

Candidates for president then took the stage. Independent presidential candidate Brad Mosell was not at the forum and said in an email that he will no longer be running for president but will campaign for a senate seat.

Elliot Goldstein, who is running for “president/chancellor,” advocated for a system of shared governance in response to multiple questions at the forum and encouraged students to “start thinking of yourself as not just a student but a responsible stakeholder.” Students for a Democratic University candidate Honest Chung said the student government should be completely independent of the administration.

Student Action presidential candidate Connor Landgraf said he would work to improve the campus climate to allow students to feel safe on campus.

ASUC Presidential Candidates (left to right) Andrew Albright, Elliot Goldstein, Noah Ickowitz, Connor Landgraf, Honest Chung, and Matt Williams debate on Friday night.


The presidential candidates also discussed UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s tenure. Multiple candidates said the chancellor had shown poor judgement in responding to the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protest but had supported students in other ways.

“He has been an advocate for higher education,” said CalSERVE candidate Andrew Albright. Landgraf said he would want to ask Birgeneau what he was doing on Nov. 9 and why he responded “so poorly” to the protest.

SQUELCH! presidential candidate Noah Ickowitz said Birgeneau could have responded better to the protests, but tackled state issues well. But both Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Matt Williams and Students for a Democratic University candidate Honest Chung viewed Birgeneau’s stepping down from office as a positive event.

“Good fucking riddance,” Chung said, adding that the campus community should decide on the next chancellor or if the campus should have a chancellor.

Williams said his party was about both action and leadership, while the current two-party system was about leadership, not action.

“I’ve been to jail twice around this fight for public education and next time I go I want it to be as ASUC president,”  Williams said.

Meanwhile, satirical candidates from SQUELCH! brought humor to the forum in the form of songs, time-travel references and other antics.

Voting for the election will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Victor Martinez spoke at the forum. In fact, David Douglass — a proxy for Martinez — spoke on his behalf.

A previous version of this article also incorrectly quote Defend Affirmative Action Party presidential candidate Matt Williams as saying “I’ve been to jail twice, and next time I go, I want it to be as ASUC president.” In fact, he said “I’ve been to jail twice around this fight for public education, and next time I go, I want it to be as ASUC president.”

A previous version of this article also incorrectly stated that Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Jeremy Palmer did not know about the student group transition out of Eshleman. In fact, he has experience from his community college.