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ASUCI elections are upon us, and it is important for every Anteater to carefully consider whom they will be voting for. The position of the Executive Vice President (EVP) of ASUCI is a position that requires knowledge, experience and leadership. After looking at all the candidates running for the position, I know Melissa Gamble is the only student on this campus qualified enough to be EVP in 2013-2014.

The EVP office is the external face of our campus and our students. It is responsible for student advocacy and is the liaison between UCI and the University of California Student Association (UC Student Association), the umbrella advocacy organization for all Associated Students and Graduate Student Associations in the University of California. The UC Student Association represents over 200,000 students and brings together a network of student leaders every month at its Board meetings.

Melissa Gamble is the only candidate running who is on the Board of Directors for the largest student association in the state. She is the only candidate who has coordinated with the UC Student Association for statewide campaigns like Get Out The Vote and statewide conferences that serve to educate and empower students.

Melissa Gamble is also the only candidate in the race who understands how to effectively advocate for students with administration on campus, with the UC Board of Regents, with the UC Office of the President and with the California State Legislature. Not only does she represent UCI at the UC Student Association meetings, but she also has marched in Sacramento to hold lawmakers responsible for students in the California budget. She led the effort to register students to vote in the fall, coordinating the effort that broke all previous records. She has provided students with the tools and resources to take action around important issues as the Campus Organizing Director in the EVP office this year.

Furthermore, Melissa’s deep understanding of the complicated State and University of California policies and laws is obvious. While other candidates may mention how bad tuition increases are, Melissa Gamble is the only candidate who can speak fluently about finding a secure funding source for the University so fee increases become extinct. Melissa Gamble is the only candidate who actively fought for students against fee increases this previous year. She is the only candidate who can educate students about the School-to-Prison Pipeline or Oil Severance taxes because of her experience and understanding.

Melissa Gamble also knows how to form connections with other student leaders on campus. She is a supporter of the Social Justice League, which is running for positions in Legislative Council. The Social Justice League aims to stand up for student rights, human dignity and social justice within the legislative branch of ASUCI.

David Hollingsworth, currently the Director of Community Outreach and Labor in the EVP office and running for an at-large position, says Melissa is “the perfect candidate for EVP” because “[they] have been organizing together for student and human empowerment, from lobbying to protesting.”

Melissa Gamble, David Hollingsworth and other Social Justice League members (Naaila Mohammed, Jonathan Contreras, Rahim Siddiq, Khaalidah Sidney, Patrick Chen, Maryam Farooqui and Rame Bashir) are the only students who are running on messages of human dignity and rights as student issues. Melissa also believes in Skyla Zhang’s (running for Academic Affairs VP) and David Van Daalen Wetters’s (running for Student Services VP) vision for our student body. Melissa, Skyla and David will increase student input in their government so it is open and accessible for everyone.

When I first met Melissa, I was just an intern. Out of all the commissioners in our office, she was one of the few who encouraged me to develop as a leader. She took the time to mentor the people around her who did not know about organizing and advocacy. She showed me that real student power stems from experience, knowledge and empathy.

Melissa Gamble empathizes with students concerned about the issues facing their campus. She will listen and represent student concerns as the Executive Vice President. She will also challenge students to address these issues, and take back their University. She will challenge every decision, every questionable action taken by those in power for the students of UC Irvine. This is why I challenge you, as students, to get involved in elections and the issues facing higher education today.

Vote Melissa Gamble for EVP during week three at elections.uci.edu.

 

Sanaa Khan is a second-year political science and international studies double major. She can be reached at sanaask@uci.edu.

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