Max Rodman, a freshman majoring in political economy, is running for ASUC Senate as a member of Elevate Cal on the platforms of academic reform, ASUC transparency and religious equity.
Rodman considers one of the biggest problems on campus to be the “toxic” academic climate, which he claims results in poor mental health among students. His proposed academic reforms include pushing back the pass/no pass deadline, reducing the total number of units needed to graduate and introducing a mastery grading option.
“Our academic environment, not only at our school but nationally, we (have) created a reputation for ourselves that students are incredibly stressed … from the students I’ve talked to, we have lived up to it,” Rodman said. “That’s really what led me to want to address this, not just through workshops (or) increasing study spaces, but getting to the root of the problem.”
The mastery grading option would allow students to keep difficult “weeder” courses from impacting their GPA, while still being able to declare their major as long as they demonstrate “mastery” in the course.
In addition, Rodman said reducing credits could create a more equitable playing field for students who didn’t have access to AP or IB courses in high school that would have passed them out of certain requirements.
To work towards making these goals tangible, he noted that he has already had conversations with the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Oliver O’Reilly and ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert. He also plans to negotiate with campus administration.
Rodman alleges a distrust in institutions, whether they be the ASUC elected officials, committees or campus administration, to be one of the other significant problems campus faces. As a result, he wants to make the ASUC more transparent.
He hopes to make information like meetings notes and agendas available sooner to students and for the yearly budget to be easier to navigate. In addition, he wants to reduce closed sessions in Senate, commission and committee meetings.
Rodman has been a member of the ASUC since summer 2022 and currently works under Senator Carlos Vázquez’s office as the chief financial officer and an executive staffer.
He also noted his experiences during high school working on academic policies that helped students gain class credits for work they did outside of school and personal finance training.
To further address ASUC transparency in conjunction with his platform of religious equity, Rodman hopes to act as a liaison for Jewish and Palestinian communities on campus and to bring their leaders to the table before passing controversial legislation.
“Even though we can’t (fully) make the problem go away … Getting ahead of the curb and being the person to bridge the gap is something I can do and have done already,” Rodman said.