Campus sophomore Trevor Cox announced his independent candidacy Thursday for ASUC Senate in the upcoming ASUC general elections.
Cox, who is majoring in computer science, is running on platforms geared toward improving campus climate, such as combating sexual assault and solving grade deflation. Cox said he also wants to “audit the ASUC” and “cut down on the bureaucracy” as a means of fostering communication between the student body and the Senate.
“I want to bring about change that people can feel,” Cox said.
Despite not having any prior experience working in the ASUC, Cox has leadership experience through his fraternity Sigma Pi where he serves as risk manager and alumni coordinator. Additionally, Cox is the secretary of Berkeley’s Finance and Entrepreneurship Club.
Cox’s primary focus is tackling the issue of sexual assault, which he sees as rampant within fraternity life. Although fraternities are given consent talks, Cox said he believes that these talks could be improved by creating more discussion, in contrast to talks in some fraternities that merely lecture their members.
Initially, Cox wanted to apply to the Interfraternity Council as a means of addressing this issue but said he realized that sexual assault is prevalent in other areas of campus, such as co-ops, athletic departments and residential student housing. The candidate hopes to facilitate small-scale, department-focused talks that can help inform all students of the resources available to them.
“Why limit myself to just fraternities?” Cox said. “I feel like I should focus on the campus at large.”
Cox’s second platform revolves around the problem of grade deflation. In comparison to grading systems at private schools, Cox said he feels students are not awarded the grades that they deserve. In order to address this problem, Cox proposed a “top-down initiative” by speaking to department heads and creating a dialogue between the ASUC and the student body.
According to Cox, an audit of the ASUC budget is necessary as a way to provide transparency regarding the ASUC’s financial information. Cox stressed the need for the ASUC to cut its budget internally so a bigger share can be allocated to clubs and student organizations. Similarly, Cox said the ASUC must scale-down on its bureaucracy to provide students with a more “direct voice” within the ASUC Senate.
Cox said he chose to run unaffiliated with any campus political parties because he appreciated the immediacy and flexibility that comes with running as an independent candidate. Instead of forgoing party politics, however, Cox added that he strives to be an outsider who can influence campus parties.
“My goal is to be a fresh voice, a fresh mindset and a third option,” Cox said.
Jimmy Draper, another independent candidate for the spring elections, also critiqued the campus party system for being too structured. Draper wants to “stay clear (of) party politics” because he believes that party systems stifle disagreement among members of the same party, which discourages healthy discussion.
“One piece of advice I got was once I announced my candidacy, I should have been adding 30 people a day on Facebook, which I believe demeans the process of student government if you’re going to make it a social media extravaganza,” Draper said.
John Bosshard, an independent candidate from the spring 2016 ASUC elections, said it was difficult to run unaffiliated because party candidates automatically have the support of hundreds of party members, whereas independents must work harder to establish a reputation. According to Bosshard, independents must also form more concrete policy-focused platforms, as opposed to party candidates who can run broader platforms.
“Running independent does mean you are independent from political parties,” former independent senate candidate Alaa Aissi said in an email. “But it does not, in anyway shape or form, mean that you are independent from your basic needs as individual and student.”