CalSERVE presidential candidate Teddy Lake runs to increase transparency, accessibility within ASUC

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Editor’s note: This is one installment in a four-part series on this year’s candidates for ASUC president. Read about the other candidates here.

Last year, Teddy Lake filled out an application to volunteer for whomever CalSERVE would slate in the 2018 ASUC Senate elections to represent the LGBTQ+ community. Her application went unnoticed for two months.

Then-senator Juniperangelica Cordova later discovered the application, and asked Lake — much to her surprise — if she would be interested in running as the queer and trans community’s endorsed senate candidate. Lake was initially hesitant because she said she had “no roots in the community,” but she went on to win a senate seat without ever having been involved in the ASUC. Now, a year later, she’s running for ASUC president in the 2019 election.

“I wanted to volunteer for the candidate, not be the candidate,” Lake said. “I didn’t do this because I wanted to, or because I thought I would be good at it — I did this because there’s a group of people who need a voice in senate, and for some reason they thought I should be the voice.”

Lake said if she did not have the community’s explicit endorsement, she likely would have dropped out of the 2018 senate race. She also had no campaign team, because she said she felt guilty about asking for help when she had “nothing to show” for her work.

Since taking office, Lake has established an accountability audit for the ASUC Senate and organized more than 15 community events. She also introduced a resolution that overhauled the Advocacy Agenda, a document outlining each of the ASUC’s advocacy goals, to make it clearer for the student body.

If elected, Lake plans to make the ASUC even more accessible to outsiders. Because elected officials receive stipends, she believes they must be more transparent about their work.

“People need to know why you’re being paid, what you’re up to and how your work touches their lives and makes it better, or worse,” Lake said. “They deserve to hold you accountable.”

She added that the ASUC has a tendency to fill openings on commissions and committees with existing members of the ASUC, rather than outsiders — a “glaring failure” she hopes to rectify next year.

The pivotal moment in her senate career was when she challenged the anti-LGBTQ+ statements that Senator Isabella Chow made during a meeting in October 2018. The incident was covered nationally, and Lake said she began to receive “horrific” messages.

“I really thought about quitting — my parents brought me home,” Lake said. “I didn’t know if I could ever speak freely in the senate without being harassed or doxxed.”

Lake said she felt “frozen” in the following weeks. She was disappointed that she was the only senator who questioned Chow during the meeting, and at the time, she felt the other senators did not care for her or her community.

Hundreds of students turned out to the next ASUC meeting to protest Chow’s comments, and Lake said she felt proud her work had become an “energizing force” for students to be invested in the ASUC and demonstrate in unprecedented numbers. According to Lake, the ASUC had never seen such a high turnout during public comment, and her community’s response, in some ways, paved the way for the Latinx community to similarly organize to support the Central American migrant caravan.

Even still, when CalSERVE officials first asked her to run for president, Lake refused. She was initially slated as the party’s candidate for academic affairs vice president for four weeks. She reconsidered, however, after receiving several emails and messages from students outside of the ASUC asking her to run for president, and two weeks before CalSERVE’s launch date, the party readjusted the slate so she could run at the top of its ticket.

“When dozens and dozens of people continue to call you for your service and ask for your leadership, that says something, and that is very special,” said former ASUC president zaynab abdulqadir-morris.

Lake has earned endorsements from the Berkeley Tenants Union, Berkeley Student Cooperative, UC Berkeley’s Panhellenic Council and Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson.

External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said in an email that Lake, as senator, has demonstrated resilience and an ability to bring people together, even when it would have been easier to be divisive.

“Leadership in crisis is essential for the next ASUC president and Teddy has this on lock,” Khalfay said in an email. “Teddy never loses sight of community and the importance of connecting with every student regardless of how keyed in they may or may not be to the ASUC.”

Anjali Shrivastava is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.