Elevate Cal coalition announces ASUC Senate candidates for upcoming election

Photo of Elevate Cal Candidates
Top, left to right: Rina Rossi, Jason Dones, Dil Sen. Bottom, left to right: Issabella Romo, Jake Sim, Stephanie Wong.

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On Friday, the Elevate Cal coalition announced the final member of its slate of ASUC Senate candidates for the upcoming elections.

Elevate Cal focuses on restoring accountability, accessibility and transparency within the ASUC. The Senate candidates are Dil Sen, Rina Rossi, Issabella Romo, Jason Dones, Stephanie Wong and Jake Sim.

Sen, a campus sophomore studying economics and political science, was inspired to run after having to move back to India last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeling isolated similar to many of his peers, he decided to get more involved in the ASUC, where he previously served as chief of staff to Senator Liam Will, to stay connected within the UC Berkeley community.

“The past year has been one of the most trying periods in human history,” Sen said. “As we near the end of what has been an incredibly difficult school year, I believe it’s now time to unite, beat this pandemic and build a better Berkeley for us to come back to.”

Sen’s primary platforms include improving sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, prevention and education, offering foreign networking and opportunities for international students and strengthening Greek life reform and advocacy.

According to Sen, given his experience in the ASUC, in addition to his experience as the current president of the Interfraternity Council and the first president of a professional Registered Student Organization, or RSO, he understands the core duties of the senator position.

Dones’ decision to run is informed by his belief that the current ASUC is not working for most students.

A campus freshman studying physics and aerospace engineering, Dones aims to support incoming students and STEM students, as he feels there is a lack of STEM representation in the ASUC outside of engineering.

Given his experience serving as a community engagement associate under ASUC Senator Chaka Tellem, who is running for ASUC president, Dones said he wants to further the work started to increase diversity in campus organizations and research.

“Next year, most undergraduate students will be freshmen, sophomores, and transfer students, most of whom will have never stepped foot on campus,” Dones said in an email. “We can’t accept a Senate that represents only a minority of students. We need new leadership and a new perspective to tackle these new issues.”

Dones added that the lack of community during the pandemic is the greatest issue students are facing, and if elected, he will fight to increase campus resources such as housing and technology.

Rossi, a campus freshman majoring in political economy and classical civilizations, decided to run to better foster campus inclusion among all students.

“I want to create the most intersectional and inclusive office in the ASUC* because (if) a social justice movement, group, or student club isn’t fiercely intersectional, it will fail,” Rossi said in an email. “I am running under Elevate Cal because they embrace my goal of intersectionality. ”

If elected, Rossi also hopes to bring awareness to SVSH survivors by providing increased training and making resources more accessible.

Additionally, she plans to address the underrepresentation of Black and Latinx students in business, finance and consulting RSOs and combat the “workaholism” culture that is found among UC Berkeley students.

Given her Dominican-Japanese identity, Rossi said she understands how it feels to be excluded from a particular culture or group and believes she has the ability to take on the role of senator.

Wong, a campus sophomore majoring in political science, global studies and public policy, is running to uplift the voices of underrepresented students.

“The pandemic has not only affected students to return to campus, but to find community,” Wong said in an email. “Zoom lectures can be incredibly difficult to navigate when cameras are turned off; students are experiencing fatigue and mental health obstacles; services such as career assistance are harder to access over online platforms.”

Wong is running on a “Something for Everyone” campaign, aiming to tackle problems every campus student faces. Wong’s platforms include prioritizing SVSH prevention and response, creating spaces for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students and promoting solidarity among Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Wong recognized that issues such as housing look different for every community, emphasizing her commitment to having a seat at the table for everyone.

To ensure a smooth transition back to campus, Wong said she will introduce resource specialists to help students navigate UC Berkeley and advocate for academic accommodations.

Romo, a campus freshman double majoring in legal studies and political economy with a minor in human rights, is interested in reform and social change to improve the quality of life for underrepresented individuals.

According to Romo, she hopes to help incoming students transition to college during amid the pandemic. She aims to make the ASUC more accessible to students by introducing more advertising and inviting community members to important conversations on campus issues.

“There is no doubt that the ASUC and administration have repeatedly failed students and there must be increased accountability on both fronts,” Romo said in an email. “We need younger students such as myself with fresh perspectives and ideas to be involved in these ASUC leadership positions for there to be progressive shifts in culture and an improved campus climate.”

From her past experiences as legislative associate in the office of Senator Tellem and apprentice in the UC Berkeley Human Rights Investigations Lab, Romo said she has the necessary skills to serve as Senator.

Campus junior Sim’s main platforms are representing nontraditional students, advocating for a rigorous campus ethnic studies curriculum, increasing access to basic needs and supporting students affected by the carceral system.

Sim said they experienced major personal challenges while at UC Berkeley, and campus resources such as the food pantry helped them thrive again.

The ASUC Senate, Sim noted, offers a platform to expand access to the resources they benefited from firsthand. If elected, Sim would use their position to uplift and advocate for students whose voices are often left out of campus dialogue.

Running with the Elevate Cal coalition, Sim added, further aligns with their campaign’s goal of supporting marginalized students.

“I want to advocate for the people who are going through difficult times like I was, who might feel like there is no one out there on their side,” Sim said.

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

Contact Aryia Dattamajumdar and Hanna Lykke at [email protected]

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