Editor’s note: This is one installment in a five-part series on this year’s candidates for ASUC president. Read about the other candidates here.
Raman Veerappan’s friends call him “the Dictator.”
They also encouraged him to run, once again, for ASUC president.
After an unsuccessful presidential campaign last year, Veerappan said he was “on the fence” about running a second time, but his friends swayed him. The process of registering was simple: filing a form at the LEAD Center, paying a fee of $5 and attending a mandatory meeting.
Veerappan, who hails from the suburbs of Las Vegas, chooses to embrace the fun side of his campaign, running once again as an independent candidate under the nickname his roommate gave him last year.
“I actually like it,” Veerappan said. “When I see people I know, they sometimes call me ‘the Dictator.’ I think that’s really cool.”
He added jokingly that it might have changed some of the votes in last year’s election. In the final vote tally, Veerappan came in fourth place, receiving 355 votes — 22 more than Defend Affirmative Action Party presidential candidate David Douglass, who is also running again this year.
Douglass said that while he didn’t think he had ever met Veerappan and didn’t know he was a candidate either this or last year, he and his campaign team have “talked to thousands of students” to win the most votes in this election. Still, a presidential candidate from outside the two major student political parties, Student Action and CalSERVE, has not been elected to the office since 1995 — the year Student Action was formed.
Although Veerappan said he is running for “the sake of running,” he was amazed at how much support he garnered last year from the student body.
“It’s a really big campus, so it’s hard to stand out like that,” Veerappan said. “Most of the support I got was from people I knew.”
A junior majoring in geophysics on a premed track, Veerappan first thought about running for president during the ASUC election season his freshman year. He described candidates approaching him and talking about their platforms — a traditional ASUC campaign strategy — and said he ended up voting mostly for those who spoke to him.
Veerappan, however, describes his campaigning as “more informal.” His main strategy is using word of mouth with the help of his friends, who he said are essentially his campaign team.
After his decision to run for president, he decided to pursue an internship in the ASUC his sophomore year. While working in former academic affairs vice president Natalie Gavello’s office, Veerappan worked with her directly on creating a website that helps students navigate study spaces on campus.
“Raman was on the committee that made the site happen,” Gavello said. “He was a great helping hand in the office.”
During the internship, Veerappan met Student Action presidential candidate Pavan Upadhyayula, who was working as a director in Gavello’s office at the time. Upadhyayula said they became good friends after realizing they were neighbors.
“We’ve had talks, a lot of long walks together,” Upadhyayula said.
He said he believes Veerappan’s campaign is “more of a joke than something that might be rooted in actual policy” but one that can prove “liberating” during the election season.
“It adds a lot of lighthearted nature at a time that can be very contentious and polarizing,” Upadhyayula said.
Although Veerappan said he isn’t expecting to win, hasn’t thought about what he would do if he were elected president and has no platforms, he isn’t afraid to put himself out there.
“People who know me — they know me as the guy who ran for president,” Veerappan said. “I would do it again, definitely.”