Independent presidential candidate Wyatt Colby runs to heal campus community

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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.

At a young age, Wyatt Colby realized politics would be in his future because it would maximize the amount of help and empathy he could provide to people.

Colby, a campus junior transfer student running as an independent for ASUC president, said his primary goal is to bolster the sense of community on campus and bridge ideological gaps between students — which he believes is vital to the campus’s success.

“There’s a lot of tension and division all over the country, not just Berkeley,” Colby said, adding that changing the campus’s reputation would build it in “ways we never imagined.”

For Colby, fostering an accepting political environment is critical. He said this involves reaching out to conservative members of the campus community and ensuring that they, too, are met with compassion.

Colby previously told The Daily Californian that the campus should reach out to its conservative members and say, “We’re sorry if we ever hurt you,” especially in regard to the Feb. 19 incident on Sproul Plaza in which a man tabling for a conservative organization was assaulted.

“I disagree that a lot of people have a negative view of Berkeley because it’s a liberal school or a monolithic school,” Colby previously told the Daily Cal. “Whether or not a majority of the school is liberal, we are compassionate toward beliefs which are different.”

Colby says division and tension are not problems unique to Berkeley. Given the university’s “alt-left” reputation, it is important that students know of their potential to make a difference, according to Colby.

As president, Colby pledges to change the campus’s reputation and “use it for the better.” Although the majority of UC Berkeley may be liberal, it is important to prioritize compassion for beliefs that are different, according to Colby.

If elected, Colby said his focuses would include enabling the campus, reaching out to different people, seeking common ground and helping people get to where they want to be.

Colby added that if he is elected, he will aim to raise awareness about different campus resources and open the student body to different avenues for success.

He also stressed the importance of making sure everyone on campus has the necessary tools to be more politically engaged.

As ASUC president, Colby would follow the lead of the ASUC senate, or “representatives.” In comparison, he sees the role of president as more of a figurehead for the community.

“What I see the presidency as is a figure people can look to,” Colby previously told the Daily Cal. “Regardless of if I win or not, those who are fearful (and those who) want change … can count on me fighting for them.”

He also encouraged individuals to reach out to their ASUC senators and voice their opinions in order to better equip the ASUC to aid the campus community.

Although Colby is running independently from the ASUC’s two main parties Student Action, which has previously represented Greek life, engineering and Jewish communities, and CalSERVE, which has historically advocated for administrative transparency, student needs and uplifting diverse student narratives he said he does not care about party affiliation.

Instead, Colby wants open dialogue.

“I just saw (being the ASUC president) as an opportunity to kind of educate people on a variety of issues taking place,” Colby said. “I also saw it as a good opportunity to connect with people with like-minded beliefs (and) help out the campus.”

After announcing his candidacy in March, Colby was investigated by an ASUC special council committee for allegedly posting campaign materials on off-limits campus sites, as determined by ASUC bylaws.

“It’s a little upsetting that it happened, but the prosecutor seems to know what’s happening,” Colby previously told the Daily Cal. “I respect whatever they think that needs to done.”

Skip Niebauer, a friend of Colby, expressed gratitude to Colby for helping to launch Niebauer’s son’s musical career. He added that Colby has gone “above and beyond” in their business relationship and is also as a honest, courteous friend.

“As a kid, I realized when it comes to having an impact and empathy, everything has a small impact,” Colby said. “But if I want to maximize helping as many people as I can, politics seemed like the route to doing that.”

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

Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.