CalSERVE selects Naweed Mohabbat as presidential candidate for 2014-15 ASUC elections

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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UC Berkeley junior Naweed Mohabbat is running as CalSERVE’s presidential candidate in this year’s ASUC elections, the party announced Monday night.

Mohabbat, an independent senator who draws support from the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, will be running on CalSERVE’s executive slate with Justin Kong, Caitlin Quinn and Jeanette Corona, nominees for executive, external affairs and academic affairs vice presidents, respectively. CalSERVE, a progressive campus political party that typically represents historically underrepresented students, will announce its senate slate at a later date.

Mohabbat said CalSERVE asked him to run, and while the party is distinct from MEMSA, the two share common values and historically have been allies. He added that his values have almost always aligned with those of current CalSERVE senators and executives.

Prior to last year’s election of current ASUC President DeeJay Pepito, CalSERVE had not had a candidate win the office of the president since 2008. The president acts as the “chief representative” of the ASUC, but how this is accomplished is left to his or her discretion.

“I think DeeJay did a great job of making the office of the president relevant to tackling a wider variety of community issues, like combatting sexual assault,” Mohabbat said. “That’s a precedent that I’m looking forward to continuing.”

Mohabbat is running on a three-part platform that includes holding administrators accountable to the diverse needs of students, revamping new student services to make them more engaging and institutionalizing mental health advocacy within the ASUC.

If elected, Mohabbat said he will create an ASUC mental health task force and advocate more funding to create more inclusive mental health services to help students navigate their time on campus.

“I want to take (the office of the president) in more of a direction where it’s more applicable to students in the wider community — that’s why I’m really focusing on mental health,” Mohabbat said. “It’s something that’s not confined by gender or race. It’s something all students can really relate to.”

Mohabbat, who has worked in the ASUC since he was a freshman and previously worked in the office of former Student Action president Connor Landgraf, said he is especially proud of a bill he authored last semester to provide interfaith meditation space on campus as well as his current role as chair of the ASUC standing committee on finance. Mohabbat believes his position as an independent senator makes him an ideal presidential candidate.

“The experience I had in the senate class in being able to really forge relationships with senators from all different parties has set me up to be able to advocate for all student voices in the presidency,” Mohabbat said.

The Defend Affirmative Action Party announced its candidate for ASUC president, senior David Douglass, on Feb. 13, and SQUELCH! announced its senate slate Feb. 17. Student Action, historically CalSERVE’s primary rival student political party, currently holds one executive position and has yet to announce an executive slate.

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.