James Weichert’s unmatched experience in the ASUC Office of Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP, makes him the standout candidate for the job.
Serving as chief of staff for AAVP Nicole Anyanwu this year, Weichert played a significant role in securing many of the academic policies and accommodations — including universal pass/no pass — that have been a lifeline for UC Berkeley students during remote instruction. His knowledge of the particular academic procedures developed amid the pandemic will be crucial in advocating on students’ behalf during the transition back to in-person learning. Already, it’s clear that Weichert has begun thinking about strategies to ease this transition academically, including plans to expand course capture technology and strengthen accommodations for international students.
Representation of underrepresented students on campus is important, especially in academics, where systemic inequities can hinder achievement of marginalized communities on campus. This is one area where Weichert’s opponent, Mateo Torrico, a member of the Latinx community on campus, has placed significant emphasis. Still, Weichert has voiced a commitment to appointing a diverse group of representatives who will advocate for policies that directly impact them.
In the end, Weichert demonstrates a remarkable breadth of focus — from admissions changes to student fee reform to intra-campus collaboration among student academic affairs committees in the UC system — that simply overshadows the comparatively narrow platforms of Torrico. While Torrico’s pragmatism about what he believes he can accomplish as AAVP seems sincere, Weichert has approached the role of AAVP with a far more detailed and inspired vision. Weichert, too, is pragmatic, but in a way that assures us he’ll enact tangible change through every avenue he can.
A self-described policy wonk, Weichert has the right priorities and ample experience to make substantive improvements to academic culture and practice at UC Berkeley.
Vote James Weichert for academic affairs vice president.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2021 opinion editor, Jericho Rajninger.