UC Berkeley sophomore Taehan Lee announced Sunday evening that he is running independently for ASUC Senate in the spring 2017 elections.
As a senatorial candidate, Lee said he embodies his platform in three words: “safety, campus and community.”
Lee, who is majoring in political science, said he wants to advocate for a change in the campus climate regarding safety. He said students feel unsafe in and around campus, adding that it is important that the campus addresses these concerns.
Additionally, Lee said he is concerned with the lack of academic resources available to students on campus. Lee said he thinks it is important that campus resources remain available despite the growing size of the student body, citing in particular the difficulty students have in trying to meet with undergraduate advisers. He also plans on creating a mentorship program that matches upper and lower classmen by major in order to give the new students resources if they need them.
Along with safety and resources, Lee said he would like to bring together the Asian community on campus. According to Lee, he hopes to get more East Asian and Asian international students involved in Asian Pacific Islander spaces, such as REACH!
Beyond the Asian community at UC Berkeley, Lee expressed concerns with representation in student government and hopes his independent candidacy will inspire more students to become more involved.
Lee referenced a status quo of partisan politics in the ASUC but said he chose to separate from the Student Action party because he believes a nonpartisan candidacy offers many benefits. According to Lee, with independent candidacy comes the opportunity to represent more diverse student groups.
“The reality is that every year there are only 20 senators elected and there’s almost 30,000 undergraduates that they need to represent. … If every single senator focuses on the needs of their individual communities and those needs only, then we are missing the representation of thousands of students outside of that purview,” Lee said.
While at UC Berkeley, Lee has worked in the ASUC for two years. During his first year on campus, he worked as the academic assembly director in the policy department of the Academic Affairs Vice President’s Office before becoming the campaign manager and then chief of staff for Student Action Senator Jay Choi. He was also an undergraduate GSI in the ASUC internship decal last fall.
Lee has also been involved in the campus in many other ways. He has been in charge of events planning for the Korean Undergraduate Networking Association, marketing chair for the Korean American Student Association and social chair for the International Students Association at UC Berkeley.
“My goal was to become as immersed as possible in the things that I felt like had the best impact on students,” Lee said.
Choi said it was Lee’s character that drew him to Lee as a friend during his first semester at UC Berkeley, before they began working together on Choi’s campaign. Choi expressed confidence in Lee’s ability as his chief of staff to take initiative and delegate responsibilities to ASUC interns.
“His way of managing things is very delicate and effective,” Choi said.