ASUCI Presidential Candidate Op-Eds: Harish Venkitaramanan

Dear Fellow Anteater,

When I was younger, I saw the world out of very confused eyes. I think I remember seeing so much happiness in it. But of course to compliment the pleasure, there always used to be a thing or two that was wrong (or at least just imperfect). I mean, when you’re 6, how do you explain that some kids do not have the kind of clothes you do? How do you explain people living in huts? How do you forget the feeling that you experienced when you had a good meal only to walk out into the street to see children not quite having the luxury of an afternoon lunch? When you are 6, how do you rationalize all this in your mind? Well, I guess then I always figured that some things needed to be changed and that someone was going to come around and fix it. The world could be better.

Growing up, I think somewhere along the way I realized that no one was going to magically come and fix the way things were. I learned that if you want something done and if you want to see something done differently, then you have to go out and do it yourself. That’s why I was in Boy Scouts when I was younger and decided to devote my life to service. That’s why I’m running for ASUCI president today.

I see my school now the way I always looked at the world. I see amazing things here. I see astounding programs, dedicated professors and curious students. I see young men and women who take heavy burdens on their shoulders and succeed in resolving conflicts and overcoming obstacles. I see progress in ways and shapes I could have only dreamed of.

However, even amidst the glamour, it’s still hard for me to ignore the inefficiencies. Having been a part of ASUCI for a year as an associate justice on the Judicial Board, it was hard to ignore the mountain pile of inadequacies that I have noted on a day-to-day basis. That’s essentially why I’m running, because I see a problem and I want to fix it, and I’m worried that no one else will.

That is why I have a detailed action plan on my Web site ( that outlines specifics on issues ranging from necessary ASUCI reform, emphasis on service, current advocacy programs like fair trade products on campus to an ambitious goal for an eventual football program.

Why? Because I think it is time to do things differently at UC Irvine. It’s time to get all students involved in our government. It is time to become more transparent. It’s time to play a different role on our campus. It is time UCI starts to become more active in our community at large. It is time for our campus to become the vanguard of social change and activism that we see in so many other campuses around us. It is time to slowly start working to make sure that UCI is one of the most prominent campuses in our nation.

I think this is where ASUCI can be effective. I think if we have the kind of ambitious leadership that really will work toward these goals, then the universe will be at our fingertips. If we ask more from our student government and start holding them to the highest standards imaginable, we can have a place to do so much.

However, even that will never be enough. We need to get involved ourselves. We need to care and feel like we can do it all — because the reality is, we can. With a vision, and the persistence to work tirelessly for it, we can shape the new.

Harish Venkitaramanan is a fourth-year electrical engineering and philosophy major. He can be reached