CalSERVE releases 3-person executive slate for ASUC elections

Amanda Ramirez/Senior Staff

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With the 2019 ASUC elections a mere month away, CalSERVE released its three-person executive slate Monday evening, advocating as a party for “equal rights and a valid education.”

ASUC Senator Teddy Lake, state affairs director for the external affairs vice president, or EAVP, Varsha Sarveshwar and Queer Alliance and Resource Center external director Regan Putnam are running for ASUC president, EAVP and academic affairs vice president, or AAVP, respectively.

CalSERVE, the ASUC’s oldest existing political party, has had the same party platform since its origins in 1984, with deep roots in “uplifting and centering those in the margins,” according to Lake, who cited CalSERVE’s early divestment from South Africa during apartheid.

Lake said she aims to focus on three key initiatives if elected — reforming the ASUC by increasing its transparency, accessibility and impact, promoting a healthier campus climate and breaking down what it means to be the No. 1 public university.

When she decided to enroll at UC Berkeley, her dream school, Lake said she had a vision of Berkeley as a “beacon of progress and innovation.” But when she arrived on campus, Lake realized this “idealized” vision did not exist and found herself drawn to trying to make that vision a reality.

This academic year, Lake said her office has hosted more than 15 community engagement events, her favorite being for National Coming Out Day. Lake started the queer and/or trans, or QT, study buddy search program this past year and aims to host a QT health and wellness summit in April.

Lake added that she has always taken it upon herself to stand in solidarity with marginalized communities and acknowledged the importance of having a leader who “sees themselves within the student body instead of above it.”

“It is possible to have that Berkeley that is mindful of student wellness, that does uplift students in the margins, that does take care of our basic needs,” Lake said. “But … it’s going to take a lot of work … and I think that that’s where I see myself filling the role of the president.”

Sarveshwar recalls being “horrified” by the lack of accessibility, affordability and equity for students on campus, which ultimately drove her to inspire change. She served in former EAVP Rigel Robinson’s office and eventually as Robinson’s campaign manager in his successful 2018 run for Berkeley City Council. Since then, Sarveshwar has gone to the state capitol multiple times and has gained federal advocacy experience in Washington, D.C.

If elected, Sarveshwar hopes to promote the need for greater investment in financial aid, address the basic needs crisis and build a more open and accessible Title IX system. She also emphasized the importance of extending her platform to marginalized communities.

“My job isn’t just to go into these spaces and speak for myself,” Sarveshwar said. “My job is to figure out how to leverage that platform and give it to other people.”

Putnam, who uses they/them pronouns, has experienced academic probation and enrollment cancellation for non-payment while waiting for financial aid. Through personal experience, they said, they have gained the knowledge of institutional policy necessary for the role of AAVP. As both a disabled student and a financial aid recipient, Putnam hopes to bridge accessibility gaps within the Disabled Students’ Program and encourage greater transparency during the financial aid process.

Putnam aims to establish the AAVP role as a liaison between campus students and faculty. Through this position, they see the opportunity to increase research accessibility and reduce grade deflation.

“Yes, we are a university that’s notoriously hard, but that doesn’t mean that students have to be falling through the cracks,” Putnam said.

Voting for the ASUC elections will be held April 8, 9 and 10.

Contact Sabina Mahavni at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sabina_mahavni.