For Felicia Martinez, the campaign to become next year’s ASUCI president is one about restoring trust in student government and working with administration in order to bring about the changes that students need.
Martinez is well aware that her platform and Khosravi’s are very similar. Both of them want to bring about more transparency with the parking department and expanding student health services. But she’s also cognizant that they both bring very different approaches to student government.
During last Thursday’s election forum, Khosravi’s supporters boisterously cheered their support for him. While Khosravi’s background in grassroots organizing galvanized his supporters, Martinez is aware that protests and rallies aren’t her speed.
“I need to get out of my comfort zone. This is all a good learning experience for myself,” she said, acknowledging that with more information about grassroots issues, she would be more willing to approach student organizers.
Instead, Martinez’s experience consists of behind-the-scenes work, organizing councils and communicating with administrators.
Last year, she was appointed director of a liaison council comprising of representatives from different campus communities. Students from the Cross-Cultural Center, Greek Life, Disability Services, LGBT and veterans communities were able to come together at one table and collectively discuss issues pertinent to each of them.
However, this year, ASUCI President Reza Zomorrodian morphed the council structure into different committees housed under his office.
If elected, Martinez said she hopes to bring back the council back to its original structure in order to foster dialogue between students who normally may not communicate with each other. The plans for it have already been approved, she said.
Martinez plans to parlay her experience interfacing with administration when she worked on the Bus Love Initiative into working with UCI’s top administrators.
Even though her experience is not with advocacy, Martinez said she wouldn’t be afraid to challenge administration during conversations behind closed doors.
Although she said that working with administration is crucial in keeping the school together, she wouldn’t be afraid to challenge Aldrich Hall when its interests aren’t aligned with those of the students.
“Previous presidents have always gone with the university,” said Martinez. “I can have a conversation with someone and understand their critique and their criticism but I can also challenge that as well.”
She plans to keep lines of communication open between both administration and students, so when tension does arise, she can serve as a bridge for the concerns of both.
Her distance from protests and rallies, which are viewed by administration as magnets for a controversial public image, will actually aid her in this role, according to Martinez.
“He definitely doesn’t want to partake in any controversial activity,” said Martinez of working with Chancellor Howard Gillman. “But I definitely see that he’s willing to answer and to learn as well.”
Even with a presidential voice, one of Martinez’s major challenges will be to strike a balance between communities whose views do not always align.
“To be a president, you have to make sure you’re not biased to any situation, but you have to make sure your voice is being heard.”
Even with a presidential voice, Martinez is aware of the tension between campus communities that do not always see eye to eye.
Martinez, herself a member of Greek community, said that although the community has made its mistakes in the recent past, it is willing to discuss solutions to move forward.
“I would close the gap between Cross-Cultural and Greek Life,” said Martinez when asked about what her top priorities would be during the first portion of her term.
As for ASUCI, which is coming out of a quarter racked with controversy and ridicule surrounding its decision regarding the American flag, Martinez sees next year for getting back to basics.
“Our accountability as student government hasn’t been there and it needs to start up again,” Martinez said.
Her solution? Make sure students know there is even a student government.
“A lot of social media, a lot of boothing because if you can’t get to your students, there’s no point in having a student government.”