Aasim Yahya, a UC Berkeley junior, is running for ASUC external affairs vice president as an independent candidate on a platform rooted in democratizing civic engagement at the campus, city and state levels.
With a drive to support grassroots, community-led advocacy, Yahya is running an independent campaign because it provides an avenue of greater flexibility and autonomy to be responsive to community needs.
“We need to fundamentally re-envision the way we approach advocacy to ensure that we are fighting with students, not necessarily for them,” Yahya said in an email. “In order to do so, we must leverage our institutional resources to amplify and support the work of community organizers and leaders.”
Yahya has most recently served as chair of the ASUC Finance Committee and as an ASUC senator endorsed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSSA.
Although he is new to the external affairs office, Yahya noted that he possesses prior experience building advocacy campaigns. Yahya added that his entire tenure working for the ASUC has been embedded in advancing the work of the MEMSSA community.
According to Yahya, through uplifting the MEMSSA community, he realized that a community is more than individuals who share an identity. Rather, it also encompasses those who share lived experiences, which he noted will continue to inform his work.
The first thing Yahya will do if elected is develop relationships and trust with community organizers and leaders, who he said in his email are the “true drivers of advocacy on our campus.”
“Our campaign is committed to representing interests from all corners of UC Berkeley,” Yahya said in an Instagram post. “Therefore, we believe our campaign team should be representative of the insight, ability, and talent of our campus’ many communities.”
In addition to facilitating community involvement in politics, Yahya also hopes to institute change within the entire UC system. Some of his primary goals include tackling hate across the system, holding UC stakeholders accountable and recovering from COVID-19.
Beyond campus, Yahya has worked in both nonprofit spaces and in various levels of government to combat issues relating to higher education, voting accessibility and COVID-19.
On city and state levels, Yahya said he strives to increase higher education accessibility through affordability, reimagine public safety, address the housing crisis and confront harm within systems of policing.
“My ultimate goal is to ensure that our advocacy is a collaborative effort that centers those most impacted by the issues we seek to tackle,” Yahya said in the email. “We live in a dynamic society, in which new policy and social issues are constantly rising. Therefore, we need to be reactive, while continuing to be proactive about our long-term agenda.”
ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.