ASUCI Hopefuls Discuss Policies

Wednesday afternoon’s candidate forum allowed interested UC Irvine students to become better acquainted with the ASUCI executive candidates and their platforms.

While candidates Samir Qurashi, Mark Crawford and Nusha Agahi neglected to attend the event, the remaining candidates chose to grace the Student Center Terrace with their presence in a formal question and answer session mediated by Elections Commissioner Kelly Chew.

The forum opened with the candidates for vice president of Academic Affairs, with all but one candidate, Shane Jagow, unable to attend.

Andrew Vo, a fourth-year business and economics major, resolved to bolster the professor evaluation system, citing that the current online form is not as effective as it could be.

“The evaluations are really crucial. They give professors the opportunity to see their room for improvement … creating in-class evaluations would double the effect by increasing the responses with both forms of evaluations,” Vo said.

Christian Medero, a second-year criminology, law and society major, pointed toward the improvement of the speakers and debate series and stated his support of the stimulus referendum.

“The speakers and [during] debates series only allows speakers spring quarter. The referendum would allow speakers to be here every quarter. I wholeheartedly approve the referendum because it would increase the budget and support the students and speakers for all quarters, not just spring quarter,” Medero said.

Candidates for vice president of Administrative Affairs emphasized a focus on students from differing perspectives.

Ahrash Rastegar, a second-year literary journalism major and candidate for vice president of academic affairs, stressed communication as a primary weakness found at UCI.

“One of the greatest weaknesses is communication. We need to get more people out there informing people. With improved communication, we could have a much more successful and better laid-out office,” Rastegar said.

Rather than communication, opponent Heaven Holdbrooks suggested the improvement of student involvement and transparency as the core focus necessary for improvement within ASUCI.

“Recruitment, outreach and retention; making ASUCI more transparent so students know about it and know how to get involved. Making sure students know that their officers should be working for them rather than just sitting in their offices,” Holdbrooks said.

Jow Haider, a fourth-year political science major, weighed in with a ground-up perspective, stating that the average student should determine the direction ASUCI takes.

“You have to do what students care about. If students care about parking, textbooks, that needs to be the main issue for students … the most important thing is you have to do what students care about and fight for student issues and they’ll come out and fight with you,” Haider said.

While most candidates had similar goals, two executive vice president candidates disagreed on a question involving UCI student involvement in state politics.

When asked about UCI involvement in Sacramento, Anush Patel stated that Irvine needs to improve its presence in Sacramento.

“We need to be in Sacramento more. We should think about going once a quarter, and getting to know people in Sacramento,” Patel said.

Geo Del Carmen, on the other hand, felt the fight in Sacramento was less pertinent to Irvine student government goals.

“I would make sure that the money going to lobby corps program is bolstered. I want to serve the students and internally invest it in our campus rather than fighting the David and Goliath battle in Sacramento,” Carmen said.

On a different note, Jesse Cheng emphasized the power of visibility on campus.

“We need an executive VP that we can see on Ring Road, not once a year but twice a quarter when students can come up to us. Next year is going to be tough for students and we need an ASUCI that will tell the students what’s going on. That’s the ASUCI I would like to bring to this campus,” Cheng said.

Vice president of Student Services candidate Danny Longmire turned his ear toward the power of listening to and understanding the needs of students.

“All leaders have similar qualities, but a good leader needs to be able to listen, and the interns and commissioners are the people out there working,” Longmire said.

Kristen Oto also cited communication as a large part of the Student Services position.

“Being able to communicate well is really important. I founded the ASUCI newsletter, which created a better way to communicate with the students,” Oto said.

Finally, presidential candidates differed from top to bottom in their methods of speaking, approach to their campaigns and even campaign goals.

Isaac Yerushalmi stated his plans for the improvement of school spirit.

“Right now not every student cares about athletics or school spirit. If we really want to see UCI become the community that we want it to be, we really need to work on school spirit,” Yerushalmi said.

Harish Venkitaramanan began his speech powerfully and went on to discuss the development of a campus-wide club network, which would allow service club presidents to communicate quickly and efficiently.

“I have a vision [that] I want to share with you. It won’t let me eat or sleep – it charges me to work for it. We all have dreams at UCI but we can’t just dream these dreams … We need a structure where students can somehow connect and network. We want a club outreach team where service clubs can access 20,000 undergraduates at UCI through their group leaders,” Venkitaramanan said.

Re-election candidate Megan Braun talked about her plans to continue her already strong relationships with administration and cites the importance of the maintenance of that communication.

“I have one-on-one meetings with administration. Every time we went to work on an issue, the relationship was already there. I really do believe the administrators have the students’ best interest in mind and it is really possible to serve the student’s best interest. It’s also important that the president understands the position the administration is in and be able to come to a resolution among them,” Braun said.

One proposal came from presidential candidate Christopher Diaz, with plans to modernize UCI’s classrooms by installing pencil sharpeners for those students wishing to keep both their minds and their No. 2s sharp.

“It’s not as intensive as what Megan said. I just want to fix a few things at ASUCI. I would like pencil sharpeners in every classroom and to fix the ones in Langson Library,” Diaz said.