UC Berkeley freshman Carlos Pareja is running independently for ASUC Senate on three platforms — COVID-19 economic relief for students, community-rooted legislation and uplifting marginalized communities.
Coming from a low-income, undocumented family, stepping foot into UC Berkeley was a “surreal” moment for Pareja. He recognizes that he is responsible for being a role model to the youth in his family, as well as the youth belonging to his community. Now, he hopes to extend his efforts into representing and uplifting the student body.
“Struggles define who a person is because … struggles are essential to how we reshape ourselves as people,” Pareja said. “I am proud of my struggles, I’m proud of my trials and tribulations and I am proud of the way that I came up.”
Pareja noted that the pandemic has brought on economic disasters that have heavily affected him and his fellow students. He also said he has seen how marginalized communities have been “brushed aside” and not heard.
As a result, Pareja is determined to implement COVID-19 economic relief by working with the financial aid office, according to his personal statement.
“I will involve myself with the Basic Needs Center, in order to ensure that proper funds are allocated to this student resource center, in order to ensure that our student body does not find themselves lacking basic resources,” reads the statement.
If elected, Pareja will attend campus organization events whenever possible, according to the statement. He will also hold virtual office hours open to all students as a safe space for them to speak with him.
Pareja is running as an independent because running under the values of a specific party does not align with his commitment to being a senator for all students alike.
“I am willing to empathize — and with any means necessary — to understand the student body, and to really ensure that their voices and their experiences are validated at our institution,” Pareja said.
Pareja has worked with the ASUC Office of the President’s campus climate department within the past year and has previously lobbied for climate justice to former U.S. rep. Harley Rouda. He is also a strong advocate for various social justice movements.
Additionally, Pareja is a co-founder and executive officer of Acceso, a nonprofit organization dedicated to guiding Latinx students in the college admissions process. He hopes to further community advocacy efforts as an ASUC senator.
“I understand that I don’t embody every community on campus,” Pareja said. “I understand that I may never understand what they’re going through. But I can listen, and I can do anything in my power to … ensure that any legislation that is passed under my term as an ASUC senator, if and when I’m elected, uplifts their communities.”
ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.