Independent candidate Riya Master runs for ASUC external affairs vice president

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UC Berkeley junior Riya Master is running as an independent candidate for external affairs vice president, or EAVP, in the upcoming ASUC elections on a platform founded on making the UC system more affordable and accessible for students.

Throughout her time in the ASUC as the current chief of staff for EAVP Derek Imai’s office, Master has been able to reflect on the work they have accomplished, as well as where there is room for improvement.

“The thing that really led me to want to run this year was not just having the experience in office or feeling like I had this institutional knowledge of how we function already, but it was truly seeing all the work that we can do and meeting so many people,” Master said. “But we truly only just scratched the surface of the potential this office has, and the capabilities it has to advance student advocacy.”

Master is running on three overarching platforms, which she coined “our students, our city and our nation,” referring to advocacy at the campus, local and federal levels. She is currently endorsed by the South Asian community, Imai and Berkeley Councilmember Rigel Robinson, among other community members.

Master aims to create a public database of current and past campus issues so students can easily access information. Other goals Master hopes to achieve are promoting greater transparency within the ASUC, and making student government and advocacy domains more open to the campus community.

As a nonresident student, Master is strongly advocating against increased tuition for out-of-state students as she said it limits equal opportunity for a diverse student body.

“There’s many students here who often don’t feel supported and who are struggling to pay,” Master said. “Six out of 10 nonresidents are from low and middle-income families, myself included, and it’s very difficult to afford education here.”

Embedded in her “our students” initiative, Master aims to uphold fair and equitable UC practices by uplifting marginalized voices. She hopes to increase diversity and student representation in campus projects, highlighting the voices of Black and Indigenous people of color within the ASUC and beyond.

Pursuing a major in integrative biology with aspirations of attending medical school, Master believes her background in science makes her uniquely qualified for the position.

“Having the perspective of physician or public health makes you really empathetic and compassionate and opens you up to see a lot of the multifaceted and intersectional ways that identities influence not just health care,” Master said. “It’s about you as a person and what we define as health and wellness … and making sure that people are doing OK at the end of the day.”

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

Contact Isabella Ruiz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Isabella_Ruiz3.