SQUELCH! announces nonsatirical senate slate for 2014-15 ASUC elections

SQUELCH!/Courtesy
Dree Kavoussi (left), Grant Genske and Madison Gordon are third party SQUELCH!’s candidates for ASUC Senate.

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For the second consecutive year, the SQUELCH! party announced a slate of entirely nonsatirical candidates for ASUC Senate on Monday night.

In last year’s ASUC elections, SQUELCH! ran seven serious senate candidates, representing a break from the party’s tradition of typically running one serious senate candidate alongside several satirical candidates. Currently, the party holds two seats in the ASUC Senate.

This year’s candidates — Madison Gordon, Dree Kavoussi and Grant Genske — hail from an array of campus groups such as the Olive Tree Initiative, Improv 4 Charity and the UC Berkeley Men’s Octet. Of the three, Gordon is the only one with previous ASUC experience, having served as a legislative director for Independent Senator Naweed Mohabbat, although Kavoussi and Genske both worked on previous ASUC campaigns.

Current SQUELCH! Senators Grant Fineman and Emily Truax — both of whom are members of the Greek community like Kavoussi and Genske — have made strides in the senate this academic year to enhance the presence of the Jewish community on campus and increase the accessibility of early childhood education, respectively.

Despite the party’s move toward selecting candidates with more serious platforms, this year’s nominees will continue to embrace the party’s whimsical ideologies.

“I don’t think I could’ve given (my humor) up for the sake of campaigning,” Gordon said. “Luckily, SQUELCH! was the perfect option for me to keep that funny side of me while still running for a serious position.”

According to Jason Bellet, SQUELCH!’s external director who came in second in the ASUC presidential elections last year, SQUELCH!’s decision not to run an executive slate or a large senate slate stems from the party’s understanding that its impact does not come from holding every seat in the ASUC.

“Since we’re a third party, it’s less about party politics and more about being committed to making Cal a better place,” said Bellet, also a former SQUELCH! senator. “We care more about that than filling every single seat.”

The candidates share passions to bridge the gap between the two major student political parties — Student Action and CalSERVE — and promote collaboration within the ASUC Senate.

“(SQUELCH!) believes that partisanship is one of the biggest problems that the body faces,” Genske said. “We’re looking for serious solutions, but we’re not getting caught up in the partisanship.”

The senate candidates’ platforms are largely reflective of their experiences as UC Berkeley students. For instance, Genske, a junior and member of the performing arts community, hopes to revamp the room reservation system for students after having faced difficulties with the current process.

Kavoussi, a junior following a premed track, pledges to create a better campus prehealth advising system, and Gordon, a sophomore who struggled with adjusting to the campus after taking a gap year, is running on a platform to empower nontraditional-entry students.

The 2014-15 ASUC general elections will take place April 8, 9 and 10.

Jane Nho is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @JaneNho.