Student Action party announces senate, executive vice president candidates

Rachael Garner/Staff

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Update 3/14/15: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Jason Tang is also running for senate with Student Action, bringing the number of candidates on their senate slate up to 15. 

After its decision to only run a presidential candidate on its executive slate in the last ASUC election, the Student Action party announced this year’s executive vice president candidate, along with a 14-member senate slate, Sunday.

Paul Lee, a UC Berkeley junior and current Student Action senator, has been nominated to run as EVP on platforms that span issues of technology use, the allocation of campus space and cultural diversity. If elected, he will be the first EVP of his party to win since 2012 — Student Action lost the spot in 2013 and chose not to run a candidate last year.

Currently, Justin Kong of CalSERVE holds the position, which is charged with chairing the ASUC Senate and overseeing space allocation for student groups. Similarly to Kong, Lee aims to improve the process of reserving rooms for student groups and events, part of what he called his goal to make “Eshleman Hall the heart of campus life.”

“Space is a commodity on campus,” Lee said. “How can I make sure that I have a classroom request and it’s fulfilled successfully?”

Lee’s focus on Eshleman Hall also echoes Kong’s platforms, which included maximizing students’ use of the Lower Sproul area, which is under construction. This construction includes the renovation of Eshleman and is set to reach completion by fall of this year.

Additionally, Lee hopes to increase student productivity through technology use, with methods such as ensuring that computer science majors have access to sophisticated software packages and soliciting feedback about bCourses, an academic online resource launched last year. His third platform, centered on cultural diversity, includes the expansion of ASUC Perspectives, a multicultural showcase.

And in what he described as a contrast to current senate leadership, Lee said as EVP, he would communicate with senators more to offer them one-to-one feedback. The current senate class, he said, needs to feel more “empowered.”

Before serving as a senator, Lee worked as an international affairs forum director in the ASUC. He has ties to the dance, Korean American and Christian communities on campus.

The senate candidates announced along with Lee are Alicia Lau, Leilanie Martinez, Karthik Prasad, Aman Upadhyay, Swan Kim, William Morrow, Rachel Schuster, Adam Yankelevits, Alexandra Wein, Carson O’Connell, James Zamora, Grace Kim, Zamzama Azizi, and Andre Luu . Additionally, Jason Tang announced his candidacy for senate shortly after the other 14 members of the slate.

Student Action is traditionally known as largely representing Greek, engineering and Jewish communities; in addition, this year’s class includes students associated with undocumented students, Muslim, Vietnamese and prehealth groups, among others.

“We really want tangible results every single year,” said Ryan Kang, one of the Student Action party chairs. “We also tell them to think really big in terms of what they can do.”

In line with the platforms of Student Action senators who were elected last year, goals put forth by this year’s candidates address campus safety, sexual assault education, career opportunities, the Disabled Students Program and the needs of Jewish and South Asian groups on campus.

Other issues include UC Berkeley sophomore Morrow’s goal to improve the appeal process for students who want to waive SHIP, a student health plan that many students this year have complained about not being able to opt out of. Additionally, UC Berkeley freshman Grace Kim aims to improve the campus’s undocumented students program, which she said is understaffed and underfunded.

Currently, Student Action holds one executive seat — that of the president — and seven seats in the ASUC Senate. While SQUELCH! has announced three senate candidates, CalSERVE has not yet announced its slates, and Student Action has not announced any other executive candidates.

ASUC elections will take place April 7, 8 and 9.

Staff writers Angel Jennings and Sonja Hutson contributed to this report.

Melissa Wen is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.