ASUC President Chaka Tellem runs for 2nd term, could make history

photo of Chaka Tellem
Hsi-Min Chan/Staff
Tellem plans to host multicultural events and foster diversity within the campus community, and support underfunded campus organizations.

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Current ASUC president and campus junior Chaka Tellem could make history while running for a second term as ASUC president with the Elevate Cal coalition.

If elected, Tellem will be the first ASUC president to serve two terms. His platforms are focused on promoting environmental justice and sustainability, improving student health and wellness, supporting students’ basic needs and enhancing the overall student experience.

“The past two years have been very tumultuous,” Tellem said. “There’s been a lot of adjustments on this campus and having consistent leadership is more important now than ever. Especially as we come out of the pandemic, the culture that we create is going to be what ossifies and be the blueprint that future classes follow.”

Tellem said his proudest accomplishment as ASUC president has been his work in environmental sustainability around the campus community to reduce campus’s ecological footprint.

Through his environmental justice education program, members of his office visit low-income middle schools in Berkeley and Oakland to teach students about the importance of environmental justice and sustainability, Tellem noted.

“I have a really big vision for this campus and I have a better understanding of what tangible things I can do,” Tellem said. “I want to create a Cal experience that everyone can be proud of.”

One of Tellem’s main goals for the following school year will be to provide substantial investments to campus organizations that may be inhibited by lack of funding. He also plans to host multicultural events and foster diversity within the campus community.

Tellem is currently working to establish vending machines for COVID-19 tests on campus and provide air-filtration services in student residence halls. He will also continue advocating for student wellness and basic needs amid the pandemic.

“You can’t excel academically or excel as a scholar if your basic needs aren’t met,” Tellem said. “As someone from a marginalized background who grew up low income, I know firsthand what that looks like and that’s something that really matters to me.”

Among several other initiatives this term, Tellem received $100,000 in funding from the Cal Alumni Association for the first campuswide alumni mentorship program. Tellem also led a partnership with the Princeton Review to provide discounted exam preparation materials for campus students.

Ian Molloy, social media chair for Elevate Cal, noted in an email that Tellem’s dedication, leadership and success in his first term make him the “best person for the job.” With the connections and progress Tellem has already made, Molloy added that reelection allows him to continue expanding on his platforms with even more expertise.

“When you’re talking about a position you’ve never held, you don’t know what you can truly do and what you truly can’t do,” Tellem said. “You gain a certain level of legitimacy among students and administration that allows you to do more once you’ve already proven your time.”

Contact Amudha Sairam at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AmudhaSairam.