Student advocate candidates focus on policy reform, accessibility to students

Related Posts

Two candidates are running for the position of ASUC student advocate this year with goals including policy reform and making the office more accessible to students.

The student advocate is an executive office in the ASUC whose primary role is to defend and help students in matters regarding the campus. The student advocate oversees student casework related to academic, student conduct, financial aid and grievance issues on campus, as well as policy development.

Historically, the student advocate has been a nonpartisan candidate who does not campaign with either one of the major student political parties and often has experience working in the office.

This year, the two candidates are Rishi Ahuja, the current chief of staff for Student Advocate Timofey Semenov, and Sayedah Mosavi of the Defend Affirmative Action Party.

Below are their major platforms.

Rishi Ahuja (Independent)

  • Casework services
  • Nonpartisanship and independence
  • Policy improvements

Sayedah Mosavi  (DAAP)

  • Hold administration accountable
  • Address sexual harassment, assault and racism issues on campus
  • Foster an environment of comfort and support for students

Current Student Advocate Semenov said he would advise his successor to have the ability to look at policy issues in a nuanced manner and maintain nonpartisan views in difficult situations. He also recommended that his successor possess the organizational skills to run an office of 30 case workers. As a corollary point, he added that experience in the office would make a stronger candidate.

“We are, at the end of the day, representing individual students, and we’re only as effective as they feel comfortable with us,” Semenov said. “So if we take stances that antagonize or alienate students that are coming to us, then we’re really hurting our ability to provide that confidential service.”

The Student Advocate’s office helped more than 120 students in one-on-one services last year. In January, the office wrote a review and analysis for a draft version of the new universitywide policy on sexual harassment and violence, which eventually included many of the changes the office recommended.

Ahuja is focused on improving policies related to financial literacy, sexual harassment and assault investigations and responses to emergencies like the explosion that occurred on campus in September.

“While we attend an incredible university, not all campus processes function as smoothly and equitably as possible,” Ahuja said. “As student advocate, I will ensure that campus response policies become more attentive to the experiences of students and that formalized channels are organized to facilitate the communication of these views.”

Mosavi plans to address sexual harassment, assault and racism and to separate the Student Advocate’s office from the administration, citing concerns that the office is too insulated from the campus.

“I aim to create a distance between the administration and the student advocate so that the administration can be held accountable,” Mosavi said. “Student rights are human rights, and they need to be recognized.”

The election will be held April 8, 9 and 10.

Contact Taryn Smith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tarynshelby.