The Student Action party announced two additional ASUC Senate candidates Thursday ahead of the upcoming ASUC elections.
Campus freshman Akash Ponna and campus junior Lauren Hibbert are running for senator positions on platforms that include student wellness, basic needs, equity and inclusion and pre-law expansion.
Ponna, a chemical biology major, aims to represent the Berkeley Dance Community, of which he is a co-executive director. Additionally, Ponna wants to reinstate the ASUC Diversity Affairs committee, provide more spaces for student organizations on campus and increase accessibility to on-campus dining options.
“Many dance groups are forced to practice in unsafe locations or have simply fallen apart,” Ponna said in an email. “It is imperative that the dance community gets representation in ASUC Senate.”
As the current chief of staff for ASUC Senator Ashley Rehal, Ponna is working to increase funding and create sexual violence and sexual harassment policies for the Berkeley Dance Community. He also serves as the associate director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the Office of the ASUC Executive Vice President.
Citing experience from these roles, Ponna plans to provide equity and inclusion training to registered student organization leaders and secure funding for organizations that represent marginalized communities. In addition, he wants to increase the understanding of mental health resources available to students and collaborate with small businesses to provide students with job opportunities.
“As a queer student of color, I understand what it feels like to not feel included,” Ponna said in the email. “This is why I’m fighting for the equity and inclusion of all students.”
Meanwhile, Hibbert aims to represent the business and pre-law communities.
A pre-law student majoring in society and environment, Hibbert is interested in expanding the intersection of environmental law and sustainability on campus. She plans to connect these through initiatives such as improving Cal Dining infrastructure and communication.
Hibbert also wants to work on grants for students in the Disabled Students Program.
“As a student in the Disabled Students Program, I have seen the difficulties, frustrations and stresses that getting accommodations on campus can create first hand,” Hibbert said in an email. “We need to address these issues and support our peers in need of support.”
Additionally, she plans on addressing the “overpopulated and diluted” club environment through networking events and roundtable discussions.
Although Hibbert has no prior experience working with the ASUC, she hopes to lean on her experience interning with the Business Development team at Total Resource Use and Efficiency, a zero-waste certification program.
“I have spent the last two and a half years immersing myself in this community,” Hibbert said in the email. “I can be flexible where I need to be but I will fight for the rights and opportunities for students of every discipline, interest or community on campus.”