The Defend Affirmative Action Party announced four senate candidates Sunday — two of whom are also running for executive offices — for the 2015-16 ASUC elections.
The party’s two executive candidates — junior transfer Michael Cortez-Mejia and senior Bianca Huntley-Ortega, who are running for president and student advocate, respectively — are also running for ASUC Senate alongside solely senate candidates Natasha Johnson and Benny Corona. In 2014, DAAP ran a full executive slate and 23 senate candidates.
DAAP campaign platforms include ending the privatization of the UC system, removing Janet Napolitano as UC president and doubling minority student enrollment for the 2015-16 school year.
The party also aims to eliminate standardized tests in the UC admissions process, support the DREAM Act, create a sanctuary campus for immigrant students, end rape culture and address issues of racism, sexism, sexual harassment and other prejudices.
DAAP was founded by the national activist group BAMN, which defends minority groups and organizes protests, including the December protests over police killings of unarmed black men.
The two executive candidates are running for senate seats to ensure greater representation of the independent student movement in both executive offices and the senate. A DAAP candidate has not won a senate seat in eight years and has never won an executive position.
“The fact that BAMN hasn’t won an executive position or senate in some time may appear daunting,” Cortez-Mejia said in an email. “Though, I feel the current political climate will improve DAAP’s chances for winning.”
Presidential candidate Cortez-Mejia, who has been involved with DAAP for one semester, hopes to double minority enrollment and implement a plan that automatically admits the top 10 percent of students attending Oakland high schools to the campus.
“It’s just racist if these students from Oakland are not being accepted,” Johnson said. “Education is needed to get people out of poverty, it’s not fair if we are excluding people from Oakland.”
Running for both student advocate and senate, Huntley-Ortega, who unsuccessfully ran for a senate seat in 2014, wants to end rape culture on campus and emphasize the idea that race is an important aspect of sexual assault.
Additionally, Johnson, who is in her first semester on campus, is running for senate on a platform that aims to create a more integrated student population at UC Berkeley and reinstate affirmative action.
Senate candidate Corona hopes to improve the campus environment for people who come from disenfranchised backgrounds, including undocumented immigrants, underrepresented minorities and those who come from families with low-socioeconomic backgrounds.
The DAAP candidates support student demonstrations such as the Ferguson and fee hike rallies and are running as representatives of these movements.