Campus junior Apoorva Prakash and campus freshman Chaka Tellem have both dreamed about representing the student body since the moment they stepped on campus.
They are now running for the ASUC Senate under the REBUILD coalition to represent women in STEM and the Black community, respectively. REBUILD, which has nominated eight senate candidates and two executive candidates total, is a slate of independents whose alliance will dissolve after the election cycle.
Prakash said she decided to run because she wanted to get more involved with campus legislative activities in order to target basic needs injustice and increase female representation, especially in STEM.
One of her main goals as a senator would be to improve “menstrual equity” by putting free period products in all bathrooms, including those labeled for men. Prakash added that she considered this service to be a facet of providing basic needs to students.
“I’ve always been really passionate about women’s health in general and women’s issues,” Prakash said. “I didn’t always feel as if the ASUC was talking about this.”
She also wants to create educational curriculum and programming related to the abuse of alcohol and drugs, sexual harassment, hazing and mental health, among other topics, for registered student organizations on campus.
Another one of Prakash’s platforms is to increase representation for women in STEM clubs and majors.
“As a woman in STEM, I haven’t always felt like women in STEM are properly represented on this campus,” Prakash said. “I want women in STEM to feel more at home here.”
Tellem, the Black community-endorsed candidate, said he was running in order to improve the campus climate and experiences for both his community and all students.
Tellem currently works for ASUC Senator Omotara Oloye and in the office of ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar on the UC Student Association’s Racial Justice Now campaign. As a senator, Tellem said he wants to continue to advocate for the Black community on campus.
Tellem believes improving the Black student experience will increase the campus Black student population.
“I love Berkeley, but there’s still a lot of improvements to be made,” Tellem said.
He also wants to create a curriculum on environmental injustice to educate campus students. He said a part of this goal was to connect communities of color with campus environmental organizations to diversify the environmental justice movement both on campus and in the community.
Tellem also wants to increase preprofessional opportunities for students, adding that communities of color and low-income students often do not know how to prepare for prelaw, prepublic service and other preprofessional post-undergraduate opportunities.
“Even though I am the Black community-endorsed senator, I want to emphasize that I am still a senator,” Tellem said. “The issues that all students face matter to me.”