CalSERVE, Student Action go head-to-head in ASUC executive vice president race

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For the first time since 2016, candidates from both of UC Berkeley’s major political parties, Student Action and CalSERVE, will face off for the position of executive vice president, or EVP, in the 2019 ASUC elections.

CalSERVE, which has not run a candidate for the position during the past two ASUC election seasons, announced campus junior Maureen Simmons as its EVP candidate in mid-March. Two weeks earlier, Student Action announced its EVP candidate, campus sophomore Andy Theocharous. Though both candidates are running with a goal to increase the effectiveness and accessibility of the ASUC, they plan to draw from their different backgrounds.

Simmons, who transferred to UC Berkeley in fall 2018 as a political science student, acknowledged that many campus students feel “disconnected” from the ASUC. In this election cycle, she hopes to restore students’ “faith and trust” in the institution.

After working in “corporate America” for 20 years, Simmons transferred to UC Berkeley, where she immediately dived into the ASUC. She currently serves as director of police reform and internal chair of the ASUC Police Oversight Commission. During her first semester on campus, Simmons held a police reform town hall on campus that “brought all the voices together on police and community reform.”

Since announcing her candidacy, Simmons said she has successfully worked with the Black Student Union to get the charges dropped against two Black students who were arrested by UCPD. Simmons said in an email that going forward, she plans to work with Chancellor Carol Christ and UCPD to ensure that UCPD engages with the Black community in “better ways.”

In addition to making sure all students feel protected on campus, Simmons aims to make internal ASUC processes “practical and achievable.”

“I am the stronger candidate experientially but that does not mean Andy is not a great candidate,” Simmons said in an email. “I bring the experience necessary to be the EVP. My experience in the corporate arena will prove to be a great asset to the ASUC.”

Theocharous, who is studying economics and global studies, said the “tangible change” he has made as an ASUC senator this past year has provided him with the experience to improve student relationships with the ASUC.

“The final decision is always up to the students. They’ll need to choose who has the institutional knowledge,” Theocharous said. “If you don’t have experience in the field, it’s going to be really challenging to be the next EVP.”

Citing the fact that the position is “very internal,” Theocharous said the next EVP will need to find a balance between profitability and moral responsibility while supporting socially responsible practices. He added that he believes he has the experience necessary to navigate communications with campus administration.

Theocharous’ previous ASUC achievements include increasing the international student scholarship, eliminating international student service fees and increasing student employment in the scholarship office.

Both Simmons and Theocharous share a platform that plans to streamline ASUC practices. Theocharous also plans to introduce “internship coordinators” and career resources aimed at serving low-income students.

Theocharous said he has been endorsed by campus Graduate Assembly President Jonathan Morris and the presidents of the International Students Association, the Armenian Student Association and the Turkish Student Association. He added that he is “excited” by the support.

Simmons said in an email that she has also seen “tremendous” support from the campus community since announcing her campaign.

“It was truly more than I anticipated,” Simmons said in an email. “I accepted the nomination as CalSERVE’s EVP candidate to make a difference, and the support confirms that I made the right decision.”

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

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Andy Theocharous had received the endorsement of the International Student Association, the Armenian Student Association and the Turkish Student Association. In fact, he had received the endorsement of the leaders of these associations, not the associations themselves.