UC Berkeley stands at a crossroads; campus safety, academic resources and student support systems are scarce. The next class of senators must be prepared for the arduous road ahead, and must lead with conviction and tenacity in the upcoming year. Students enter UC Berkeley hoping to create a community, which can only be done if everyone has the ability to experience a comfortable environment needed to foster one. The task for student government to aid this process is in no means an easy one, but is a necessary one. The bridge between the student body and the administration lies within the ASUC Senate chambers, and the next elected leaders will be tasked with fulfilling their platform goals and keeping equity at the forefront of their respective missions.
The Daily Californian’s editorial board interviewed all candidates running for ASUC Senate, except for Andrei Fabre Latorre, Jeevet Kaur, Michele Talley, Nicole Klein, Ronit Nath and Syed Moiz Rauf, who failed to respond to requests for an interview. After thorough deliberation and consideration of each candidate’s platforms, relevant experience and interview responses, we have determined who we believe can best represent the student body. The following 20 ranked candidates are those we think are right for the difficult job ahead.
1) Kailen Grottel-Brown (independent, he/him)
Grottel-Brown has a proven track record in his first year as an ASUC senator, and has fresh ideas to continue his projects long-term if reelected to the senate. In his previous term, Grottel-Brown established a financial literacy course for all undergraduates and hosted housing fairs to help students navigate off-campus housing.
Additionally, his goals for campus safety offer alternatives to more police presence, such as increased late-night transportation, better street lighting and greater transparency in WarnMe notifications.
Grottel-Brown acknowledged that the ASUC Senate has a high turnover rate, and it was re-elected senators who offered him guidance and mentorship: He is well equipped to continue this cycle with the next class of senators this year.
2) Amyrah Doty (Progressives at Cal, they/them)
Doty has the skills, experiences and ambition to show why they should be a lock for the next slate of ASUC senators. There are many issues Doty wants to tackle with the platforms and resources of a senator’s office, from housing security, public safety, disability justice and retention programs for students of color. They will come into the ASUC Senate with ambitious but achievable aims, along with clearly defined ways of actualizing those goals.
What puts Doty a cut above the rest is the wealth of experience they bring to the senate, if elected. Doty was endorsed by members of the Disabled Students Commission and has actively been engaged in conversations about public safety through Berkeley’s Police Accountability Board. Along with their involvement in efforts to save campus’s Anthropology Library and their own lived experiences, Doty has shown that they can bring tangible and effective change to UC Berkeley.
3) Andrea Jimenez (Elevate Cal, she/her)
With a campaign slogan of “querer es poder,” Jimenez plans to take her experience as a first-generation Mexican woman and uplift students within and across the Latine community. Her background working in the ASUC and with federal government officials makes her a knowledgeable candidate. But beyond previous experience, she intends to revamp mentorship and internship programs for Latine students, better connect multicultural organizations to the LEAD Center and enhance public service and networking opportunities for students.
As UC Berkeley takes steps toward becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, a senator like Jimenez is just the liaison to champion voices from the community. Jimenez is also endorsed by members of the Latine community, including the founder and president of Frontera at Berkeley, the president of the Latin American Leadership Society and the former president of Pi Kappa Alpha.
4) Imaan Sultan (Elevate Cal, she/her)
Imaan Sultan doesn’t just want to repeat work she’s accomplished as chief of staff for ASUC Senator Stephanie Wong — she wants to make it better. Reaching out directly to student communities she addresses in her platforms, she resembles a candidate for the people. She intends to increase pre-law resources following her co-launch of the Pre-Law Commission, develop a STEM Committee under the ASUC and form a master career resource guide for all students.
Her push for a DEI coalition also brings focus back to students who are international, low-income, first-generation, undocumented, BIPOC and part of the LGBTQ+ community. Sultan is endorsed by Senator Wong and ASUC Chief of Staff Sydney Roberts, in addition to the chair of the ASUC Pre-Law Committee and presidents of multiple student organizations.
5) Kevin Li (independent, he/him)
Junior transfer Kevin Li has an extensive history in student representation. Before transferring to UC Berkeley, he worked in his community college’s student government for two years, eventually becoming the vice president of legislative affairs. Now, with a platform of student transfer representation, housing/transportation advocacy and pre-law resources, he is running for the ASUC Senate to uplift underrepresented communities.
With transfers, he hopes to be their voice in expanding resources for mentorship programs and applying to student organizations. He also seeks to expand transparency in the ASUC Senate by increasing the accessibility of its records and meeting minutes. With an expansive and ambitious platform complemented by his previous experience in community college student government, Kevin would be a strong and leading voice to those historically without one.
6) Alex Sanborn-Walker (Progressives at Cal, he/him)
Wielding a unique platform of transfer student prosperity and housing security, Alex is a strong candidate for the ASUC Senate.
Endorsed by the transfer student caucus, Alex campaigns for a smoother transition for transfers to get acclimated to the student campus. He also seeks to grant student resources to transfer when applying to student organizations. With prior experience in housing security for ASUC Senator Kaileen Brown’s office, Alex also seeks to reform Cal Rentals and increase accessibility for student housing. He recognizes the importance of future housing construction sites and wants to balance intercommunal justice concerns with his mission of expanding student housing, especially for People’s Park. Lastly, he seeks to fight perceived austerity measures like the student library closures and further actions by the UC administration that undercut student services without student consensus.
7) Sama Zazai (independent, she/her)
Zazai has actionable platforms and the experience to execute them as an ASUC senator. She is the Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian, or MEMSSA, Coalition endorsed candidate, and previously led a campus march for Afghan women’s rights.
Working in EAVP Bailey Henderson’s office this year, Zazai co-authored a resolution that reinstated EBT at Golden Bear Cafe. To combat cyberbullying and doxxing, she proposes an anonymous database separate from campus to report incidents of online harassment. Zazai also campaigned on creating a diversity, equity, inclusion and justice position to facilitate discrimination training for all ASUC offices. Importantly, Zazai has demonstrated an understanding of when to “take space and make space” within social justice advocacy, and can bring this balance to the senate.
8) Andy Liu (independent, she/her)
Liu is experienced within the ASUC and has transformed her passion for the East Asian and LGBTQ+ communities into feasible goals to accomplish as senator.
As a queer East Asian woman and an international student, she has learned to navigate the intersectionalities of her identity and has plans to increase representation and collaboration on campus. In particular, Liu wants to reform the Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination by standardizing resources for survivors in the short-term, and increasing funding and support for the office in the long-term. Liu also wants to promote collaboration and coalition-building among student gender minority groups, and hopes to provide free menstrual products and education on campus.
Not only are Liu’s ideas actionable, but her experience in two AUSC senator’s offices has prepared her to continue the legislative work of her predecessors for those projects that are beyond the scope of a single senate term.
9) Lanah Duque (Elevate Cal, she/her)
Lanah Duque and her passion is bound to make waves in the ASUC. Her extensive involvement and commitment to the Filipinx community on campus makes her an essential advocate to the Senate. But her work extends beyond just Filipinx representation.
Her platforms grounded in promoting mental wellness and SVSH training in Greek life makes her a promising candidate to carry out her visions. Supported by several endorsements by Filipinx organizations on campus, Duque is destined to be an integral part of bridging the gap between student government and the Filipinx community.
10) Owen Knapper Jr. (Elevate Cal, he/him)
Owen Knapper Jr. steps into this senatorial race with a clear vision of bringing a seat to the table for marginalized students at UC Berkeley. As an associate within President Chaka Tellem’s equity, inclusion and belonging office, Knapper Jr. points out a fundamental lack of representation in the office itself.
Throughout his platforms, he tackles the challenges faced by being both a Black and waitlisted student. Whether it is a plan to repilot the HBCU program or increase Black application and retention rates, Knapper Jr. is ready to enhance community advocacy in the ASUC Senate next Fall.
11) Ashi Mishra (independent, she/her)
Running entirely on environmental platforms, Mishra has put forward an impressively detailed and ambitious set of platforms to strengthen UC Berkeley’s environmental community.
Aided by an endorsement from the eco-community, Mishra’s eyes are set on institutionalizing climate justice and environmental education through forming paid campus positions for those on administrative committees who draft environmental initiatives. Further, Mishra wishes to create an environmental justice certification to aptly acknowledge students pursuing climate justice-based education.
Mishra is well-qualified to be a Senator, having previously been involved in efforts to end use of campus’ fossil fuel generation plant and electrify campus. She is in tune with the community she is endeavoring to represent — recognizing that burnout, collaboration and proper environmental education are the biggest hurdles environmentalists face. As a result, Mishra is a well prepared and fit candidate for office.
12) Lauren Adams (Progressives at Cal, she/they)
An ASUC candidate for Progressives at Cal, Adams champions those with disabilities as a Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP, student herself who experienced barriers to obtaining accommodations from the program. They especially highlight in their platforms the necessity to pursue increased allocation of funds toward the DSP and more specialist accessibility for DSP students, which currently fall short of meeting demands for those experiencing disabilities.
Her other primary platforms include providing resources for the Indigenous community to feel supported in forming student organizations, saving libraries on campus from closure and improving SVSH protocols for Greek life.
13) Sonia Zu (independent, she/her)
As an external relations lead in the office of Senator Stephanie Wong, Sonia Zu has amplified the voices of Asian American students and community members in the greater East Bay area. Throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic, Zu recognized the discrimination the Asian American community faced, and immediately sought to come up with tangible plans to advocate against hate.
Whether it is bringing local Asian American businesses to Sproul Plaza or implementing sustainable activism in her planned Too Good to Go campaign, Zu has all hands on deck.
14) Daelynn Castillo-Delgado (independent, she/her)
Castillo-Delgado currently serves as chief of staff to ASUC Senator Manuel Cisneros, and is just as passionate and driven in following through on projects for the QT community.
A QT community-endorsed candidate, Castillo-Delgado is running on platforms of QT advocacy, first generation and low income student equity, and student health and wellness. Castillo-Delgado recognizes the accessibility gap between the ASUC and RSOs — particularly for those with intersectional identities that identify as Latine or Black — and asserted that she will be an advocate for organizational transparency.
With a slew of actionable plans — including continuing ongoing drives for professional clothing, the annual QT Prom and bolstering professional development RSOs, specifically those that are affinity-based — Castillo-Delgado is clearly running simply to give back to her community. Her care and dedication will aid her and the communities she seeks to serve in what will be a strong Senate term.
15) Tanner Kenin (independent, he/him)
Although new to ASUC, campus sophomore and triple major – psychology, legal studies and political science – Tanner Kenin is ready to address long-standing challenges in our campus community. Kenin’s first major platform is Greek Life reform: he aims to implement sustainability practices such as recycling, promote inclusivity and further and adequately strengthen SVSH practices. Additionally, Tanner will aim to expand mental health wellness support on campus and will also advocate for improving campus safety. His final platform is improving Cal spirit to make college a fun experience.
Coming from a small town in Iowa, Tanner has come to love our diverse campus community and is ready to make our university even better.
16) Abel Birosh (Elevate Cal, he/him)
Campus freshman and Indian international student Abel Birosh will be a great addition to the ASUC Senate. One of his most important platforms is ensuring that people from all diverse backgrounds feel a sense of belonging. He is an advocate for out-of-state and international students. He also wants to improve South Asian representation.
In the face of the struggle our university is facing to keep its libraries open and adequately fund its departments, Birosh will be an advocate for increasing funding for STEM, increasing library hours and improving disability accommodations. Building on his past work in the ASUC in multicultural initiatives and in work concerning disability, Birosh will continue to advocate for those from underrepresented communities.
17) Caitlyn Guntle (independent, she/her)
Co-captain of the Cal Dance Team and choreographer for Thrive Dance Company, Guntle has the tangible influence and experience to continue bettering the dance community. She plans to subsidize the cost of space reservations for dance organizations as well as advocate for funding of the arts at large. Her platform extends beyond the stage, though, as she seeks to centralize SVSH prevention resources and increase training within registered student organizations.
Her initiatives also emphasize student and menstrual equity, bringing attention to basic needs and calling on campus to provide more accessible menstrual products. Guntle is being endorsed by ASUC Chief of Staff Sydney Roberts, the Cal Dance Team captain and several other ASUC officials as well as directors of student dance organizations.
18) Ariel Mizrahi (independent, she/her)
Amid a difficult year for UC Berkeley’s Jewish community, Ariel Mizrahi will make the most of her time and platform as an ASUC senator if she is elected. Mizrahi, who is running on platforms of student representation, SVSH prevention and professional development, seems poised to make meaningful change. Mizrahi stressed her connection with the Jewish Student Union, which endorsed her, and emphasized the importance of continuous education on community issues.
Outside of issues facing the Jewish community, Mizrahi plans to work with other community-focused senators to tackle challenges facing the entire student community. Speaking from her experience as a first-generation student, Mizrahi will also work towards creating mentorship programs and giving people opportunities to find academic and professional guidance. Mizrahi has also been involved with CALPIRG and has promoted safe party initiatives, making it clear that she has a lot to offer the student body.
19) Thin Rati Oo (independent, she/her)
Coming off of a successful year in the ASUC Senate, Thin Rati Oo is ready to pick up right where she left off. Oo applied to UC Berkeley as a refugee from Myanmar, and has since dedicated herself to uplifting the voices of Southeast Asian students who may be facing similar challenges to hers.
In her time as senator, Oo acquired funding for underrepresented Southeast Asian RSOs and currently aims to create a Southeast Asian caucus to continue addressing these needs. Endorsed by the transfer caucus, Oo is running for a second term because she feels as though her work is not done and is ready to take her goals to completion.
20) Luca Hadife (independent, he/him)
Luca Hadife will bring a rejuvenated spirit to the ASUC Senate. As an international student from Lebanon, Hadife grew up addressing real geopolitical crises throughout his education. Hadife attempts to translate that same fighting spirit to student government at UC Berkeley, which he all too familiarly realizes has been stagnant and ineffective in prior years.
Hadife hopes to improve sustainability measures, international student experiences and equitable Greek life engagement. Not only does he seek to start projects in these realms, he already has.