These are the 20 ASUC Senate candidates you should vote for in the 2019 elections

For the second time in recent memory, The Daily Californian editorial board is endorsing candidates for ASUC Senate. With 33 candidates on the ballot this year, this guide will help students fill out the 20 slots in accordance with their values.

Every senate candidate was given the opportunity to interview with one to two editorial board members. In each interview, we asked candidates about their vision, platform and experiences, all of which informed our endorsements.

Some of the criteria to rank senators included: tangible and specific yet innovative platforms, passion and knowledge of issues impacting students and applicable leadership experience. The board also valued diverse representation with a proven commitment to these communities.

Members of the editorial board were not able to conduct interviews with candidates Rebecca Soo, Amy Mori and Haile Amonson, so analyses of their platforms were based solely on external research.

Here are the board’s rankings:

1) Nicole Anyanwu (CalSERVE, she/her)  

If there’s one person that deserves a seat in the senate more than anyone, it’s Anyanwu. Her main goal — to improve sexual violence and sexual harassment resources and promote asurvivor-centric narrative — is invaluable.

As a well intern at the Tang Center, Anyanwu is more than qualified to tackle health and wellness issues. She’s already met with the leaders of the Tang Center and the newly opened Basic Needs Center to ensure that her goals to address these problems are achievable. We are confident that she will persist through any obstacles to accomplish these important platforms.

2) Omotara Oloye (CalSERVE, she/her)

There are few people more qualified to tackle UC Berkeley’s equity and diversity issues than Oloye.

Oloye brings fresh ideas to the long-standing issue of recruitment and retention of marginalized communities on campus, and her experience in the Black Recruitment and Retention Center has given her the institutional knowledge to make these ideas a reality. If elected, Oloye also hopes to improve the accessibility of grants and scholarship programs for underrepresented students.

Oloye will persevere past administrative bureaucracy to ensure that she’s serving the students who need her most.

3) Yousef Moneer (CalSERVE, he/him)

As a first-generation, nontraditional transfer student and refugee, Moneer is well positioned to advocate for a variety of communities on campus that are often underrepresented. His ideas — including a policy advocacy team to lobby for the Muslim community and a support network for nontraditional, first-generation transfer students — are impactful and specific.

“My communities have been long excluded from institutions such as the ASUC,” Moneer previously told the Daily Cal. But with him in the senate, these issues will finally get the advocacy they deserve.

4) Sylvia Targ (Independent, they/she)

Targ aspires to make environmentalism more accessible on campus and highlight the need for intersectional solutions to pressing environmental problems. This is an extremely bold vision, but Targ has more than proved themselves. Since their freshman year, they’ve organized around environmental issues, distributing masks during wildfires and working as a food literacy coordinator to address sustainability efforts on campus.

Among Targ’s most tangible goals is to consolidate environmental courses, student organizations and efforts into a centralized website — a plan that will benefit the entire campus community.

5) Liam Will (Independent, he/him)

Will may be a freshman, but he’s already acquired knowledge and experience characteristic of upperclassmen. As president of his co-op, orientation leader for the Berkeley International Office and Basic Needs Coalition representative for ASUC Senator Anna Whitney, Will has tangibly shown strong leadership.

Will wants to ensure that every first-year student knows the basic needs programs they have access to by organizing fairs. And he clearly communicated in his interview with the Daily Cal editorial board that he understands the channels he’d have to go through to do so.

6) Romario (CalSERVE, he/him)

The campus needs Romario’s passionate advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community on the senate floor.

He’s well versed in ASUC bureaucracy — he served as presidential hopeful Teddy Lake’s chief of staff this past year — and his pledge to make on-campus housing more inclusive by expanding the Unity House Theme Program and deconstructing the gender binary in the housing process is powerful.

While his goals to fundraise $10,000 for summer housing scholarships and secure an LGBTQ+ wellness director to work alongside the Queer Alliance Resource Center are ambitious, the editorial board believes Romario is up to the task.

7) Emily Fregoso (CalSERVE, they/she) 

Few candidates expressed as much dedication in their interview as Fregoso did. If elected, they hope to dismantle anti-Blackness within the Latinx community and hold the campus administration accountable to the Hispanic Serving Institution initiative. But Fregoso was also quick to acknowledge the ambitiousness of their platforms, emphasizing that they just want to make as much progress as they can.

Their experience working in several branches of the ASUC gives them the connections and institutional knowledge they need to navigate the bureaucracy and accomplish their goals to the best of their abilities.

8) Sitara Bellam (Student Action, she/her) 

As a dedicated member of four different South Asian organizations on campus, Bellam is well equipped to serve her community in concrete ways. Bellam hopes to inform students about resources at the Tang Center covered through SHIP to mitigate cultural stigma around seeking professional help.

Bellam’s plan to form a partnership between Venmo and the LEAD Center to separate personal finances from club accounts is among her most concrete platforms — a small step that could drastically improve diversity in leadership of Registered Student Organizations on campus.

9) Pedro De Anda Plascencia (CalSERVE, he/him)

A Latinx community-endorsed candidate, De Anda Plascencia hopes to empower community members on campus by increasing retention and academic and career resources. He’s already shown his commitment to his community through his work with the Raíces Recruitment and Retention Center and the office of Senator Nick Araujo.

De Anda Plascencia’s plan to include intersectional voices in holding the campus accountable to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution will be a meaningful accomplishment, if he is elected. The editorial board believes his obvious passion and depth of experience will allow him to accomplish his bold goals.

10) Haazim Amirali (Student Action, he/him) 

Amirali’s two years of involvement with the ASUC have given him an understanding of the organization’s greatest strengths and shortcomings. If elected, he plans to promote the transparency and accessibility of the ASUC to the student body through more detailed weekly reports and better advertised town hall meetings.

He also intends to improve residence halls by creating a basic needs division within the Residential Hall Association and promoting healthier food options in the dining halls. These are noble goals that are often overlooked, and the Daily Cal editorial board is optimistic about their implementation.

11) Evina Wang (Student Action, she/her) 

Wang brings experience, enthusiasm and fresh ideas to her bid for senator. If elected, she plans to support the international and East Asian communities. While this is a lofty goal, Wang has concrete plans to accomplish it — she intends to improve the Golden Bear Orientation experience by increasing the emphasis on cultural sensitivity, and she hopes to strengthen the relationship between international students and alumni.

With her experience working under Senator James Li this year and her own experience as an international student, Wang has a developed understanding of her community’s needs.

12) Yesenia Solis (CalSERVE, she/her) 

Solis’ desire to represent undocumented students on campus is informed by her own experiences and her advocacy work in immigration sanctuaries. In collaboration with the UC Berkeley Career Center and the Undocumented Student Program, Solis plans to create an alumni network for undocumented students to address the difficulties many community members — especially those without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program status — face when applying to graduate programs and jobs.

Although her goals for the ASUC Senate will require more specificity in order to successfully implement them, her passion to advocate on behalf of all undocumented students is indispensable.

13) Leslie Vasquez Guzman (Student Action, she/her) 

Thanks to her experience working in a handful of ASUC offices representing Latinx students, Vasquez Guzman has the institutional knowledge to improve on previous efforts to support the community. A Latinx community-endorsed candidate, she plans to continue reforming the Removing Impediments to Students’ Education scholarship for undocumented students to ultimately make it more need-based — which demonstrates an impressive understanding of student needs.

Vasquez Guzman also hopes to support students of color as they transition from high school to UC Berkeley — an important goal to increase diversity and retention on campus.

14) Sumrit Grewal (Independent, she/her) 

Despite Grewal’s lack of experience within the ASUC, her work as an organizer makes her a strong representative for marginalized communities. She hopes to unify the Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSSA, community, and receiving endorsements from MEMSSA’s leaders is a promising sign that she’s off to a good start.

While her plans to increase access to basic needs and improve conditions at Golden Bear Orientation seem vague, the Daily Cal editorial board hopes her background in social activism will allow her to push forward on these necessary objectives.

15) Derek Imai (Student Action, he/him) 

Though he is working on mental health efforts in multiple ASUC Senate offices, Imai — who plans to represent the prehealth community and advocate for greater mental health resources — is well positioned to continue working on these initiatives. His nutrition platform is an innovative goal that could help address issues students face surrounding food access and literacy.

The majority of Imai’s platforms are specific and rooted in his previous endeavors, so Imai must think creatively about implementing his goals to avoid merely following in the footsteps of previous ASUC student leaders.

16) Carolyn Le (Student Action, she/her) 

UC Berkeley’s transfer student body sorely deserves representation in the ASUC — and Le is ready to be an advocate for her community.

In an interview with members of the Daily Cal editorial board, Le demonstrated a clear understanding of the needs that transfer students on campus face. Her platforms, however, are quite lofty for a one-year term. Rethinking transfer-exclusive housing on campus and creating a new Tang Center satellite office are significant promises to make, and the editorial board hopes Le will back up these platforms with comprehensive action.

17) Media Sina (CalSERVE, she/her) 

Sina hopes to ensure that course units are accredited fairly, and students in the colleges of chemistry and engineering can enroll in breadth classes they need. Additionally, her plans to increase student participation in sustainability efforts on campus are impressive. She may lack tangible plans to secure funding, but the Daily Cal editorial board hopes she can draw upon her extensive legislative experience to make these ideas a reality.

Sina presents ideas that could make the campus a healthier environment. Her platforms must be more concrete to be achievable, but there is promise in her passion.

18) Rocky Gerosa (Student Action, he/him) 

Gerosa’s experience takes his campaign to the next level — after working as the chief of staff for ASUC Senator Zach Carter, he’s clearly well informed about the ASUC. And he is dedicated to solving big issues such as wellness, which makes the Daily Cal editorial believe he’ll make a good senator.

That said, his solutions to some problems — particularly his inability to account for the stigma and lack of inclusive education associated with sexual wellness resources — lack depth. Gerosa will need to prioritize a more holistic approach to successfully tackle his ambitious plans.

19) Joseph Besgen (Student Action, he/him) 

Besgen’s platforms to enhance resources for tech and engineering organizations are reasonable, and there’s no doubt he’ll be able to accomplish them — but the board hopes he’ll shoot a little higher if elected.

His desire to improve Moffitt Library workspaces is doable but uninspired. Instead, he should prioritize his platform to allocate Sproul Plaza space equitably so students won’t have to wake up so early to reserve spots. The campus engineering community has historically been apathetic toward student government, but Besgen will bring the enthusiasm and commitment needed to revitalize students’ investment.

20) Shelby Weiss (Student Action, she/her) 

Weiss is the editorial board’s final endorsement thanks to her platform regarding interfaith solidarity. While resolving anti-Semitism and general intolerance will take more than roundtables and speaker series, education and solidarity are the first steps — and Weiss is committed to the cause.

On safety and sustainability in Greek life, however, Weiss must do more than incorporate recycling bins and disaster preparedness. As a whole, support of the Jewish and Greek communities requires going beyond reactive measures — so we hope Weiss will think critically and take action if she is elected.

Editorial board member Danielle Kaye recused herself from the discussions on Shelby Weiss and Haazim Amirali because of her social relationships with them.

Editorial board member Shayann Hendricks recused herself from the discussion on Romario because of her social relationship with him.

Opinion editor Kaitlyn Hodge recused themself from the discussions on Media Sina and Emily Fregoso because of their social relationships with them.

Editorial board member Hannah Piette recused herself from the discussion on Liam Will and Rocky Gerosa because of her social relationships with them.

Editorial board member Revati Thatte recused herself from the discussion on Joseph Besgen because of her social relationship with him.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this editorial incorrectly stated that the RISE scholarship is the Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education scholarship. In fact, it is the Removing Impediments to Students’ Education scholarship.