daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian!

Executive seats split between CalSERVE, Student Action in 2017 ASUC elections

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.


Former Managing Editor

APRIL 14, 2017

Two CalSERVE candidates, two Student Action candidates and an independent candidate won the five executive seats in the 2017 ASUC election, marking the first bipartisan executive branch since 2014.

CalSERVE’s Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris won president, Student Action’s Helen Yuan won executive vice president, CalSERVE’s Rigel Robinson won external affairs vice president, Student Action’s Andrew-Ian Bullitt won academic affairs vice president, and independent Jillian Free won student advocate.

AbdulQadir, who had wrapped herself in a blanket on Lower Sproul Plaza as election results were announced Friday, said she was nervous all day and “astonished” at the results — she received 4,157 votes after redistribution.

“I’m really shocked,” AbdulQadir said. “I was coming in expecting the worst.”

She ran on platforms of improving campus climate, fighting food insecurity and improving students’ mental health, among others.

10,020 students voted this year — a sharp 16 percent decrease from 2016, when 12,559 students voted. In the ranked-choice voting system, students’ votes are redistributed to their other ranked candidates after their primary choices hit a certain quota.

AbdulQadir defeated Student Action presidential challenger André Luu, who currently holds an executive ASUC office as EAVP, by 891 votes after redistribution. Ethan Schlatter, the human proxy for SQUELCH!’s satirical candidate Ghost, came in third with 538 votes, and Richard Alvarado with the Defend Affirmative Action Party came in fourth with 223 votes. No independent candidate ran for president this year, shifting a yearslong trend in ASUC elections.

The bipartisan results diverge from the previous two years of ASUC elections: For all executive positions, excluding student advocate, Student Action won a sweep in 2016, and CalSERVE did the same in 2015. In another break from recent precedent, Yuan and Bullitt ran unopposed, receiving 3,298 votes and 3,032 votes, respectively.

In the EAVP race, Robinson won 3,759 votes to defeat runner-up Raj Bhargava with Student Action, and DAAP’s Gabriela Takahashi came in third. Free, the student advocate winner, received 2,697 votes, beating out sole opponent Asahi Hardy with DAAP.

Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff
Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

After the results came out, Student Action members formed a circle and reflected on their campaigns. Outgoing ASUC President Will Morrow, who ran last year as a Student Action candidate, assured everyone in the circle that he was proud.

“For some of you all, congratulations. For some of you, it didn’t end up the way you wanted,” Morrow said. “I don’t want you to feel that as a reflection of yourself.”

Ten out of 14 Student Action senatorial candidates won: Lynn Shiung, Maddie Miller, Adnan Hemani, Connor Hughes, Alexander Wilfert, Jenica Bautista, Katya Yamamoto, Megha Torpunuri, Josh Wilson and Hung Huynh. The party will hold the same number of senate seats as it did in the 2016-17 school year.

Five out of six CalSERVE senate candidates won — Hani Hussein, Juniperangelica Cordova, Rizza Estacio, Carmel Gutherz and Harshil Bansal — following a downtrend of senate seats for the party. CalSERVE won seven senate spots in 2016 and eight in 2015.

Sunny Aggarwal, one of three senate candidates with the newly formed Pirate Party, also gained a spot. Neither SQUELCH! nonsatirical senate candidate won a seat this year, and DAAP also did not manage to secure a position.

CalSERVE’s EAVP-elect Robinson said he is excited for next year, noting that he and the rest of the incoming group will have “a lot of work to do” in the coming months.

Robinson said that he was also shocked by the results but that standing behind certain communities and issues helped him succeed.

Daniel Kim/Staff
Daniel Kim/Staff

“Between a new chancellor … a new mayorship, new federal administration, a lot of things are changing really rapidly,” Robinson said. “There’s going to be a lot of quick adapting, but there’s also going to be a need for productivity, which hasn’t existed in quite some time.”

After learning election results, CalSERVE party members also gathered in a unity circle to rally about their wins.

“For myself, it just means that I worked hard. I think we all proved that together, we’re so powerful,” said Senator-elect Juniperangelica Cordova. “Tonight we proved … if we organize together and we believe in ourselves, we can do whatever we want.”

Independent candidates had an unusually strong showing this year, winning four senate seats, as opposed to last year’s one independent victory. The 2017-18 independents are Nuha Khalfay, Vicente Román, Nina Jhunjhnuwala and Taehan Lee.

“Running as an independent candidate — community-endorsed — it was very, very challenging,” Román said. “I’m really excited to have Latinx representation … calling people in, calling people out when you need to be, and really going toward the bureaucracy that is the ASUC.”

Three out of four referendums passed — the Community and Career Connections Initiative Referendum, the Housing Security Referendum and the Big “C” Referendum — meaning students will pay an additional $51 in fees in the fall 2017 semester.

The Life at UC Berkeley EXpansion, or LUX, Referendum, which would have increased the $27.50 semesterly Student Activities Fee by $10 a year for three years, was the only referendum that failed to pass, garnering 3,065 “yes” votes and 4,517 “no” votes.

Andrea Platten is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected].

APRIL 16, 2017