ASUC executive candidates clash at Tuesday night elections forum

Rachael Garner/Senior Staff

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Candidates for ASUC executive positions often clashed on their platforms during an ASUC elections forum held by The Daily Californian on Tuesday night.

The discussion touched upon a variety of topics, including the relationship between the ASUC and the UC administration, campus wellness and safety, and student engagement with the city regarding the affordable housing crisis.

Student Action external affairs vice presidential candidate Andre Luu said he plans to work with city administrators on further developments in public transportation, especially in regards to BART.

Luu also wants to register incoming freshman undergraduates to vote through a door-to-door registration process in the campus residence halls in order to amplify student voices in city government discussions.

CalSERVE EAVP candidate Boomer Vicente, however, countered that international students would not have the privilege to vote. Instead, he cited his past experience communicating with the city government as useful for increasing students’ civic engagement.

Running with the Defend Affirmative Action Party but listed as an independent candidate for external affairs vice president, Aarefah Mosavi and DAAP-affiliated academic affairs vice presidential candidate Nancy Murillo both emphasized the mobilization of students in rallies as the primary way to solve the student housing crisis and improve campus climate.

All three AAVP candidates addressed the issue of student wellness during the forum.

CalSERVE AAVP candidate Kathy Tran said students should be trained on how to work with tenured faculty in order to allow student voices to be heard by the Academic Senate. Student Action AAVP candidate Frances McGinley focused her platform on mental wellness provisions for students.

Independent student advocate candidate Selina Lao and DAAP-affiliated student advocate candidate Stephanie Nicole Garcia both expressed the need to hold faculty members accountable for sexual misconduct, especially in light of the campus’s recent handling of such cases. In addition, Lao plans to focus on furthering survivor support services on campus.

“Survivors get a choice here on this campus,” Lao said. “Resources are out there because survivors need to feel empowered and go about (the healing process) the way they feel is best.”

When asked about actions they would take to improve the way the ASUC serves student groups on campus, two executive vice presidential candidates focused their answers on student space allocation.

CalSERVE executive vice presidential candidate Wes Adrianson said he would focus on providing student communities with more space by building new cubicles in the basement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building. Student Action EVP candidate Alicia Lau would coordinate with residential halls to ensure temporary working spaces for student organizations in anticipation of student population increases on campus and the renovation of Wheeler Hall, which will begin in May.

Lau ended her participation in the forum early because of a medical situation, according to Student Action presidential candidate Will Morrow.

DAAP-affiliated presidential candidate Michael Cortez-Mejia called for a “political revolution” to mobilize the student body to demand free tuition and an increase in financial aid. Independent presidential candidate James Bacon said that should he be elected, he would let student opinions guide structural reforms to the ASUC.

Both Morrow and current Cooperative Movement Senator and CalSERVE presidential candidate Sheena Paul want to bring students’ voices into discussion with the campus and UC President Janet Napolitano.

Morrow believes the responsibility of the ASUC president is to be in the room where important decisions are made. If elected, he plans to prioritize addressing the campus’s planned budget cuts and said that conversing with campus leaders will result in tangible changes.

“I’m not going to let the UC Office of the President intimidate me out of that room,” Morrow said. “I’m not going to let the chancellor intimidate me out of California Hall.”

While describing Paul’s intention to prioritize the support of sexual violence survivors, Paul was interrupted by Garcia, who alleged that Paul’s posts about survivors on Facebook were disrespectful. The interruption was met with shocked reactions from the audience.

The 2016-17 ASUC elections will take place April 4, 5 and 6.

Jessie Qian covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessieq96.