SQUELCH! presidential candidate Jason Bellet emphasizes bridging party divides

Beyond Rhetoric

Derek Remsburg/Senior Staff
SQUELCH! ASUC presidential candidate Jason Bellet has been active in leadership since he served as his middle school’s president.

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Editor’s note: This is one of four profiles that has been published on candidates for ASUC President. Stories on David Douglass and Rafi Lurie appeared in print and online Wednesday.

“Most Likely to be President” was the superlative awarded to 7-year-old Jason Bellet when he launched his political career.

Since then, Bellet, the SQUELCH! candidate for ASUC president, has run three successful campaigns, winning student body president of his middle school and vice president of Beverly Hills High School.

Described by friends as “superman,” a  “klutz” and “somewhere between a Jewish mother and president of the United States,” Bellet has found ways to inject creativity and humor into his serious bid for the ASUC presidency.

“You don’t have to be boring to be serious,” said Noah Ickowitz, SQUELCH! party chair and former Daily Cal columnist.

Running with the historically satirical SQUELCH! party, Bellet has focused his campaign on leveraging his position as a third-party candidate to bridge community and party divides.

“I have an opportunity to help translate SQUELCH!’s history of satirical criticism into action,” Bellet said.

Bellet has said that as a third-party candidate, he wants to move past the divisiveness of the current ASUC to challenge the current two-party system — a position complicated by his initial efforts to be slated with Student Action.

“Last semester, he approached us and asked if we’d be willing to consider him,” said Student Action party chair Joey Lam. “He wanted to be independent at first and not associated with SQUELCH! — that changed. He did pursue the slating with Student Action and said that he believed in a lot of what Student Action believed in.”

Bellet, however, maintains that SQUELCH!’s guiding principles aligned more closely with his own ideology.

“I’ve never regretted my decision to run with SQUELCH!,” Bellet said.

His proposals include establishing a Council of Presidents to foster connections between communities, streamlining the ASUC’s grant-allocation process and building a strong relationship between the ASUC and incoming chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

In developing his platforms, Bellet reached out to many different communities on campus, attending the town halls of the Queer community and Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities.

“Before the semester started, I hosted a Shit-On-My-Platforms party,” Bellet said. “I got a lot of constructive feedback and worked hard until everyone was satisfied.”

Still, current ASUC President Connor Landgraf, who ran with Student Action, criticized Bellet’s platforms, citing a lack of specificity and practicality of his plans.

“They are worthy goals and list changes people really want to see, but they lack details of any specific, tangible changes that Jason will make to address the issues he’s raised,” Landgraf said, adding that bringing communities together was probably a more appropriate role for the executive vice president.

Eileen Fracchia, Bellet’s mother, said she also had concerns about whether Bellet would be too busy taking on the responsibilities of ASUC president as well as graduating from the Haas School of Business this year. Bellet, however, has a strategy in mind.

“This isn’t like Accounting 102B — this is managing a multimillion-dollar operation,” he said. “I’d be happy with all C’s if I kick ass as president.

Friends express their confidence in Bellet’s leadership abilities, explaining that while Bellet is practical and seriously committed to his work, he also has a good sense of perspective that allows him to not take himself too seriously.

This quality seems to allow Bellet to land on his feet when he is confronted with unfortunate situations.

Before a rehearsal of ASUC’s Perspectives Showcase, Bellet treated his assistant director, Lauren Schrimmer, to an ice cream sandwich. Having been distracted by a homeless man’s puppy on Telegraph Avenue, Bellet dropped his own sandwich.

“He thought it was hilarious,” Schrimmer said. “He actually directed the whole rehearsal covered in chocolate ice cream.”

Finding himself one-on-one in the office of the director of the TV show “Glee” for an audition, Bellet forgot all the words to his prepared song but proceeded anyway, making up the words as he went along and earning himself a callback.

According to longtime best friend Alex Banayan, Bellet once fell off his chair after mistaking a raisin for a spider.

Bellet’s positive attitude has carried him through the campaign relatively unscathed, and while seated for an interview, he is fresh-faced, sitting up straight and speaking eloquently about his aspirations.

While Bellet expressed his powerful desire to win the election, he also believes that important progress has been made already through the campus’ serious consideration of a third-party candidate and is proud of what he and SQUELCH! have accomplished so far.

Sitting back with his characteristic infectious grin, Bellet concludes, “It’s been quite the year — at this point, there is no win or lose for me.”

Contact Natasha Osborne at [email protected].

A previous version of this story stated that Connor Landgraf said Jason Bellet’s platforms were more appropriate for an external affairs vice president. In fact, he stated they were more appropriate for an executive vice president.

The print version of this story incorrectly switched Jason Bellet and DeeJay Pepito’s platforms. In fact, Bellet’s platforms are improving student access to administrators and campus resources; streamlining grant allocation to improve funding for student groups; and bringing together various campus communities.