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.
When Amma Sarkodee-Adoo moved from a small town in Arizona to Berkeley, she decided to find out what activism looked like in this community. With very few people from her high school around her, she realized she wanted to support people who are unfamiliar with the community when they arrive and those who struggle at UC Berkeley.
Now, she’s running for ASUC president with Student Action.
Growing up, Sarkodee-Adoo witnessed her parents fighting for their rights and combating “alienation and discrimination.” At UC Berkeley, Sarkodee-Adoo has channeled her own desire to create change into campus and city politics. A junior studying political science, Sarkodee-Adoo worked on zaynab abdulqadir-morris’ successful 2017 campaign for ASUC president, was a director in abdulqadir-morris’ office and is now a senator. Starting in her sophomore year, Sarkodee-Adoo also became an intern in Berkeley City Councilmember Lori Droste’s office.
According to Droste, Sarkodee-Adoo has helped bridge the divide between the city and campus, and Droste is “honored” to be able to support her.
“I think it’s rare to find somebody who has as much city experience as she has and really has been able to serve a variety of constituencies on the campus as well,” Droste said. “I know that she’s involved in Greek life and a variety of other organizations, and I think she’s just really well-suited to serve the community.”
Droste also said she was impressed by Sarkodee-Adoo’s abilities and that Sarkodee-Adoo was appointed to the city Human Welfare and Community Action Commission, where she was “immediately” elected vice chair. According to Droste, during Sarkodee-Adoo’s time on the commission, she was involved in a community agency funding process that helps allocate funds for nonprofits. Droste added that in her office, Sarkodee-Adoo was “intimately involved” in changing the application forms for commissions, adding a nonbinary option.
Sarkodee-Adoo’s running mate and candidate for academic affairs vice president on the Student Action slate, Aastha Jha, said Sarkodee-Adoo’s platforms encompass the most pressing needs presented across UC Berkeley and the local community.
Sarkodee-Adoo is intent on focusing on “advocacy and accountability,” which she said partially involves making sure there is more transparency from the university regarding the use of student fees.
Sarkodee-Adoo said she also promotes a safer campus climate and increased safety. She said she will be focused on supporting survivors and increasing the accountability of the UCPD and Berkeley Police Department if elected ASUC president.
Drawing from her experience working for the city, where she has advocated for more affordable housing, especially student housing, Sarkodee-Adoo plans to continue fighting for student housing as part of her goal of increasing basic needs security, according to Droste.
Current ASUC President Alexander Wilfert said many students are frustrated with the ASUC and politics because they feel that politicians are participating in the political process to further their own agendas. He said, however, that Sarkodee-Adoo is a “genuine” figure of support for other students.
“I think having known Amma now for two years, it’s honestly refreshing and amazing to me that there’s someone who’s still here because they’re grounded in community and the friends and the people around them and is genuinely there for the support of other students,” Wilfert said.
Sarkodee-Adoo said she is proud of the work she has done as a senator both within and outside of her own communities, including her work with ASUC Senator Nick Araujo in writing a grant to create a Latinx resource center.
Sarkodee-Adoo said she believes that although it is important to have leaders who speak up, they also need to know when to listen. She said that she “fullheartedly” supports the Transfer Remedy Act referendum because, even as a nontransfer student, “when someone is telling me there is a need, I need to listen.”
If she becomes president, Sarkodee-Adoo said she wants to promote communities that do not have a “seat at the table” and that actively work with groups that are not as strongly represented in the ASUC. One of her platforms is “diversity, equity and inclusion,” which includes increasing diversity in the faculty and holding the university to its diversity goals. In terms of uplifting the voices of other communities, Sarkodee-Adoo said it will involve advocating for “long-term institutional change on behalf of those communities.”
“I’ve seen a lot of how the organization functions. I think the bureaucracy hinders students — hinders progress in a lot of ways — but I think you need to understand the bureaucracy in order to combat that, and I think I’ve been lucky enough to gain a true understanding of it so I can take it on from that office,” Sarkodee-Adoo said.