Candidates for academic affairs vice president focus on better representing student interests

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Two candidates are vying for the position of ASUC academic affairs vice president with intentions to better represent student interests and to support students in their academic pursuits in the classroom and beyond.

The AAVP’s office offers student-run programs and academic services to help students develop and improve their experience on campus. It also appoints student representatives to decision-making committees of the Academic Senate, which consults the chancellor on executive decisions regarding the academic profile of the campus.

This year, the candidates are Jeanette Corona of CalSERVE and Alison McDonald of the Defend Affirmative Action Party.

Below are their major platforms:

Jeanette Corona (CalSERVE)

  • Improving support for mental health

  • Developing stronger financial literacy among students

  • Preparing students for their next steps after graduation

Alison McDonald (DAAP)

  • Remove Janet Napolitano from position of president of the UC system

  • Double underrepresented minority enrollment at UC Berkeley

  • Stop administration cover-up of sexual harassment and assault on campus

  • Build the independent, integrated and youth-led civil rights, immigrant rights and student movements

  • Reverse fee hikes and defend public education

  • Full citizenship rights for all immigrants and pass the federal DREAM Act

  • Double underrepresented minority enrollment at UC Berkeley

  • Get BP out of UC Berkeley and stop the privatization of public education

  • Defend student free speech and protest

Of all the executive offices, current AAVP Valerie Jameson of CalSERVE describes the office of the academic affairs vice president’s office as the most flexible, considering that the AAVP has more relative agency in introducing and implementing his or her own initiatives and projects.

This past year, the AAVP’s office has operated under Jameson’s philosophy that academic success and development is directly linked to student services, support and programs. The office has introduced two grants and has integrated more scholarships into the office, launching a new textbook scholarship program and the RISE Scholarship.

The role, however, has lacked structure and guidance. Because many expectations can be unclear to a newly elected AAVP, Jameson has focused on more clearly defining the role of the AAVP into the ASUC’s constitutional bylaws and introducing more programs. But she emphasized that the efforts to strengthen the infrastructure of the office itself depends on future AAVPs.

While Corona and McDonald are pursuing separate goals, both candidates aim to use the office as a vehicle to push the university to better serve students.

Corona said she wants to develop a training curriculum for academic advisers about mental health issues, work with the Credit Union for Berkeley Students to construct a personal finance guide that would cover issues such as student debt and increase mentorship opportunities between undergraduate and graduate students.

Corona said she envisions the AAVP office as “a visible force” in campus decision-making and a “hub of resources that are available at students’ fingertips.”

McDonald, who is running for both AAVP and the senate, said she wants to focus mainly on improving and empowering the collective student voice, a goal she would pursue in either position.

In particular, McDonald plans on integrating many of the DAAP platforms into the office, including working with admissions to implement affirmative action policies, supporting the voices of underrepresented students and protesting Napolitano’s tenure.

McDonald said she wants to cultivate an office confident enough to enact change independently when student interests and administrative interests do not line up.

The ASUC elections will take place April 8, 9 and 10.

Contact Bo Kovitz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @beau_etc.