CalSERVE slates 7 senate candidates for ASUC elections

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CalSERVE unveiled a seven-person senate slate Tuesday night for the upcoming ASUC election.

The oldest existing ASUC party, CalSERVE is backing a smaller senate slate in a continuation of its shift toward running slates composed of fewer candidates — such as the successful six-person senate slate the party backed in 2017, as opposed to the 14-person senate slate from 2016. The senate candidates are Sarah Abdeshahian, Justin Illescas, Teddy Lake, Idalys Vanessa Pérez, Angelica Santos, Tashie Williams-Powell and Amir Wright.

“I’ve been involved in the ASUC for the past two years, and I’ve seen that a lot of good things can be done in the ASUC, but I don’t think everyone has been taking advantage of their position (as senator),” Abdeshahian said.

Abdeshahian, a sophomore majoring in political science and economics, aims to empower women of color, hold the UC Board of Regents accountable and promote student activism under an initiative called “decolonize, organize, mobilize.”

Currently, Abdeshahian serves as chief of staff for External Affairs Vice President Rigel Robinson and as the communications director for UC Student Regent Paul Monge. Abdeshahian also helped to create the UC-wide Title IX Student Advisory Board while working as Monge’s communications director, and she hopes to create a similar organization at UC Berkeley to address issues of campus sexual assault and gender discrimination.

“The No. 1 thing for me is that I want to serve the students, and these are three platforms that can elevate student voices,” Abdeshahian said. “When students work together, we can get a lot done — we can remove regents; we can stop tuition hikes.”

Illescas, a junior transfer student who identifies as differently abled, is running as an advocate for disabled students, transfer students and low-income students. Since arriving at UC Berkeley in fall 2017, he has worked in Senator Juniperangelica Cordova’s office after three semesters of experience in student government at Cerritos College.

“I am running because I believe that disabled students should have more representation within the student body,” Illescas said. “I want to make sure that all differently abled bodies at Cal are considered when policies are made.”

Illescas wants to revive the now-dissolved Disabled Students’ Residence Program, which supported disabled students through their transitions to UC Berkeley, and to expand the program to all of the residence halls and co-ops on campus. Additionally, he plans to work with New Student Services to create an orientation program tailored more toward transfer students.

Sophomore political science major Wright is campaigning to implement police reform for UCPD, improve housing accessibility to students and expedite financial aid verification.

Drawing from his experiences as a Black student, Wright plans to implement sensitivity training to improve interactions between police officers and minority communities.

“I think we need to demilitarize UCPD, because the show of force they have on campus is excessive … like during ‘Free Speech Week,’ ” Wright said. “Ramping that down would be great.”

Lake, a sophomore majoring in political science, is running to represent the queer and trans communities, with a platform including administrative accountability, positive representation of the queer and trans communities on campus and support for survivors of sexual assault.

Lake plans to organize twice-a-month town hall meetings to allow queer and trans students to voice their concerns directly to her, and she aims to then report such complaints to the campus administration on behalf of the campus LGBTQ+ community.

“It is a bit of a struggle being an identifying member of the community — we have to fight for our safety on this campus, and it’s bad for your mental health,” Lake said. “My office is going to dedicate itself to that fight.”

Voting for the ASUC elections will take place April 9-11.

Contact Miyako Iwata at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dailycalmiyako.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sarah Abdeshahian serves on the UC-wide Title IX Advisory Board. In fact, Abdeshahian helped establish the board as Student Regent Paul Monge’s communications director.