To be backed by a party in the ASUC elections, a candidate has to endure a lengthy application process — one of the largest differences between running party-supported and running independently.
This selection process, called slating, begins early in the academic year for the ASUC’s two main parties — CalSERVE and Student Action. The partisanship of the ASUC has been critiqued before, and the extensive slating process is only one element of the party system.
Student Action begins slating for the spring ASUC elections in the fall, according to party co-chair Paul Iskajyan, and requires an application and interview. He added that Student Action has a nomination process in which students are nominated by party members and the slate application is then sent to the nominated students.
Although the nominated students are directly sent the application, Iskyajan added that the Student Action application is “openly and widely publicized … You apply, you interview and then between the party chairs and senators, we discuss and deliberate.”
CalSERVE’s slating process also starts early, in January, according to CalSERVE party co-chair Romario Conrado. He said CalSERVE worked with its foundational communities during the fall semester, leaving talks of elections and slating for the spring semester.
“Our communities did the slating, but we opened up applications at the end of January to review applications and take in candidates,” Conrado said.
Student Action and CalSERVE are the two largest ASUC parties and are both running slates for executive and senate positions. The Defend Affirmative Action Party, or DAAP, also slated four senate candidates, with two also running for executive positions.
Independent candidates have mixed opinions on the slating process. The number of independent candidates has increased at UC Berkeley over the past two years — parties have also taken a hit UC-wide, as UC Riverside decided to remove parties from the ASUCR elections earlier this year.
While many of the candidates said running with a party provides accessibility to different campaign resources, such as institutional knowledge of the ASUC and campaign finances, they also said running independently gave them more flexibility, freedom and autonomy while campaigning.
Aidan Hill, who ran independently in the 2017 ASUC elections, said the slating process is biased toward a “certain type of student.”
“Political parties (are) looking for the best dressed, best looking, best memorable or niche trait that can get them the vote they want,” said Hill. “The reality is most students are intersectional and most students don’t have a popular backing with them.”
Hill also criticized the lack of political variation in certain parties, which limits a party’s possible audience and creates the possibility of party-backed senators voting on resolutions along party lines. This system, Hill described, creates different “fights for power in a vacuum that doesn’t have power in the first place.”
Independent candidate Aaron Bryce Lee said he thinks slating does a “good job” of targeting certain communities and an “amazing job” representing those communities, but he added that slating should be more focused on the candidate’s ability to represent the entire campus.
Current ASUC Senator Taehan Lee, who ran independently last year, said the slating process attempts to be fair but that he felt candidates are picked for a slate based on their connections within a party. This, he said, leaves less space for those who found motivation to run on their own accord.
Campus sophomore Stephen Boyle, who is the proxy for independent candidate Furry Boi, likened slating to “kissing ass.”
“You start off … working on someone’s senate campaign, (and) you eat as much ass as possible until you have the possibility to get slated,” Boyle said. “The whole process of it is a lot of fakeness and social manipulation and social snickery.”