The newly founded REBUILD coalition formed for the 2020 ASUC elections released a portion of its senate candidates — Naomi Garcia, Valerie Johnson and Suhyp Youssef — March 9.
Josh Lewis, co-founder of the REBUILD coalition, said there was no formal procedure in place for picking the candidates but rather the coalition looked for those who were centered in community and were passionate to represent marginalized communities. Lewis said the coalition existed so these candidates who were interested in running had a support system to run.
“These are candidates that have a demonstrative interest in active advocacy and allyship, candidates that have really progressive values and candidates that were already interested in running and expressed that interest to us,” Lewis said.
Johnson, a campus junior, is a transfer student from a community college in San Bernardino. Her past experience includes serving as the UC Student Association’s Transfer Student Affairs Officer. Johnson’s platforms center around her observations as a transfer student.
She said, in the position of ASUC senator, she would work to increase the number of transfer students in the UC system through outreach, help students better connect with their professors and decrease barriers to leadership that transfer students face on campus.
“I spent basically my entire first semester figuring out what counselor I have to go to and what signatures I had to get because it was really unfair to me,” Johnson said. “I’d really like to help students connect as soon as they get here on campus and connect as soon as possible.”
Garcia, a campus sophomore, is running as the Queer and Trans, or QT, community-endorsed senator to further the connection between the ASUC and the QT community.
Their platform includes a proposal for more QT events, increasing awareness about transgender-specific health care information and starting a community-led program for QT students to stay in Berkeley over breaks in order to avoid difficulties at home.
“Just having a direct line of communication to the ASUC as an institution and the community is very important to me,” Garcia said. “I don’t believe in the ASUC as an institution; I only believe in the people within it.”
Youssef, a campus junior, wants to improve access to mental health resources on campus. His platform is informed by his past struggles, and includes consolidating pre-health information and advising as well.
He intends to establish a Northside satellite Tang mental health center, create a mental health survey for all students and promote campus mental health resources. He said he would also like to focus on improving pre-med resources, including holding a pre-health-oriented career fair.
“I know what it’s like to be a minority on campus, what it’s like to go through a nontraditional pathway that often lacks the support networks,” Youssef said. “I definitely feel like I have insight into different experiences, I have experiences that would contribute to my role as senator.”