CalSERVE releases all-female executive slate for 2015-16 ASUC elections

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On Monday night, CalSERVE released its executive slate of candidates for the 2015-16 ASUC elections — all of whom are women.

Current CalSERVE senators Yordanos Dejen, Lavanya Jawaharlal and Melissa Hsu, and independent senator Marium Navid will run for the offices of president, executive vice president, academic affairs vice president and external affairs vice president, respectively. All candidates are also women of color.

“We really prioritize experience,” said CalSERVE media coordinator Denim Ohmit. “You don’t want to send a rookie into the game when the bases are loaded and it’s the bottom of the ninth.”

Dejen, a junior majoring in legal studies and ethnic studies, is director of the Berkeley Student Foundation and a peer academic counselor with the campus Educational Opportunity Program. Although she is the black community representative in the senate, Dejen said that the problems of the black community are not isolated and that she will foster dialogue among students and administrators to improve the campus climate.

CalSERVE holds three of the four executive seats on senate, with Justin Kong as EVP, Caitlin Quinn as EAVP and Mon-Shane Chou as AAVP. CalSERVE traditionally seeks to serve historically underrepresented groups on campus.

Her platforms include revitalizing the UC Berkeley experience with an affordable concert series for students and utilizing the new Lower Sproul space, which is set to open in the fall. Dejen said she wants to implement a six-year food-security plan and added that students need “a more reflective financial aid package that covers a realistic rent price as well as money for meals.”

ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula, of Student Action, also ran with goals involving improvement of student life, although his other platforms included promoting collaboration in the campus’s culture and increasing the ASUC’s transparency.

Jawaharlal is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering who is a corporate liaison for the ASME, a society for engineers, and the president and co-founder of STEM Center USA, which aspires to motivate children to study science, technology, engineering and math fields. She aims to provide student organizations with a credit card program and develop the Lower Sproul room-reservation system.

“The opening of the new Lower Sproul is going to be such a momentous time for students in fall,” Jawaharlal said. “My vision is to make sure that this 24-hour study space … is successfully available to students.”

Navid, a junior majoring in molecular and cell biology and Near Eastern studies, is the chair of the campus Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition and a student organizer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She has experience lobbying officials ranging from campus administrators to state legislators.

Navid said she wants to fight for affordable housing for students, advocate educational equality in local schools and ensure that students are a part of the conversation about the university’s governance.

Hsu is a UC Berkeley Haas School of Business junior who serves as the vice president of professional development for the Haas Business Student Association and the founder and chair of the Rest Zones Working Group, which aims to provide rest zones for students around campus.

She said she wants to ensure that students have a stronger connection with their academic advisers and are aware of available academic resources.

“I’d like for students to have a personalized road map so they know how to achieve their goals,” Hsu said.

Additionally, she wants to work with the Student Store to provide affordable e-books and create an affordable laptop-rental program for long-term leasing.

CalSERVE has not yet announced its senate slate. Student Action announced its senate and EVP candidates Sunday, and SQUELCH! announced its senate candidates Feb. 16.

The 2015-16 ASUC general elections will take place April 7, 8 and 9.

Angel Grace Jennings covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.