Elevate Cal announces ASUC presidential and transfer candidates

From left to right: Gabriel Alfaro, Chaka Tellem

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Elevate Cal, a newly formed coalition, announced its candidates for several ASUC positions, including ASUC president and transfer representative.

Created by ASUC Senator Chaka Tellem alongside several members of his office, the coalition announced Tellem’s campaign for ASUC president and Gabriel Alfaro for transfer representative. As a part of its mission, Elevate Cal hopes to increase support for marginalized communities and bring transparency to the ASUC.

“We wanted to continue that progress by making a group of progressives from various communities that can work together under a common goal of making a better Berkeley,” Tellem said. “Making Berkeley a more inclusive and hospitable place.”

If elected as ASUC President, Tellem plans to focus on COVID-19 relief and response, housing and basic needs, environmental justice and sustainability, ASUC transparency and accessibility, campus climate and safety, and academic and professional opportunities.

Tellem noted that this includes working on the UC Green New Deal, the preservation of People’s Park, advocating for affordable housing and combating xenophobia on campus. Additionally, Tellem said he wants to ensure a quick and safe return to campus while also providing students the option of continuing with remote learning.

“One of the first things I want to do is making sure that the office that I create is representative of the Berkeley student body,” Tellem said. “I want to make sure that members of every community have a space in my office so that I can learn from them about their community needs.”

Alfaro, a campus transfer student, previously served as the student trustee for his community college, representing 60,000 students, and as the executive vice president of the student senate for California community colleges. Over the past year, Alfaro has served as the chief of staff for ASUC Senator Liam Will’s office.

Alfaro said he was drawn to Elevate Cal because he could see himself working with the candidates, and felt they could be valuable partners to the transfer community and larger student body.

“This was a group of people who really wanted to make a change and really wanted to move Cal forward as a campus and not just do performative things that ultimately don’t impact the people who really need the help,” Alfaro said.

As a part of his platform, Alfaro plans to create mentorship opportunities for community college students in student government, as well as a transfer student caucus that would connect to a larger statewide network. Alfaro also wants to focus on guaranteeing housing for first-year transfer students and expanding transfer student housing floors, similar to Maximino Martinez Commons.

Last year, Tellem worked on the UC Student Association Racial Justice Now Campaign. Tellem was also endorsed by the campus Black community as an ASUC senator.

As an ASUC senator, one of Tellem’s first actions was passing a resolution supporting Proposition 16, in which he was involved in the #ASUC4EqualOpportunity campaign.

“Helping marginalized students will improve Berkeley for all students,” Tellem said. “That’s kind of the philosophy that I have on leadership and what I plan on doing, and at the end of the day, I’m also a Berkeley student, and I want to see a better Berkeley.”

ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.

Mela Seyoum is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Chaka Tellem worked in the ASUC Executive Vice President’s Office last year. In fact, he did not.

A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Elevate Cal as a party. In fact, it is a coalition.