By Nicole Wong
After last year’s American flag incident, this year’s ASUCI members sought to repair their relationship with students and the Irvine community.
According to ASUCI president Parshan Khosravi, the most difficult challenge going into the year was working to “navigate an organization that was hated by everybody and change that into an organization that people would see as representative.”
On top of this, ASUCI went into the school year with a $60,000 deficit and insufficient funding.
“Our student government is the lowest paid student government in the entire UC,” said Khosravi. “The amount we’ve received is the same as the 90s and it hasn’t gone up, but inflation has gone up. What we can do becomes much more limited.”
Because of this, Khosravi was unable to accomplish everything he set out to do. Khosravi’s plans at the start of the school year included promoting political education by creating an online resource site to keep students up-to-date with political issues. He also proposed bringing back ASUCI scholarships, which would be open to all students, but the budget deficit forced him to prioritize other initiatives.
Khosravi’s top priority as President was improving mental health services on campus. On May 21-22, ASUCI held its second annual Reclaim Mental Health Conference. The event, founded last year by Khosravi and Mental Health Commissioner Caroline Nguyen, strove to raise awareness and erase the stigmatization of mental illnesses.
Fixing UCI’s parking situation was also at the top of the list. ASUCI worked with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to conduct research on UCI parking conditions. They also successfully repaired relations with the parking department with plans to hold monthly meetings on the matter.
ASUCI also established a Dear Admin! Initiative that allowed students to voice their concerns directly to the UCI Administration. The campaign will not be continued next year but the information gathered will help ASUCI provide better services for students.
Last month, UCI announced plans to launch an eSports (electronic sports) program in the fall. The spotlight was on UCI once again, but this news was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.
“That was when I felt like now we’re ready to move on as an organization. We’re back on being on good terms,” said Khosravi.
This year Khosravi also continued the 60 by 16 Commission started by last year’s ASUCI President Reza Zomorrodian. 60 by 16 hosted multiple debates with the various political organizations on campus to spark a political conversation. At the beginning of the year, student voting was at 12% and is now at 29%. The initiative will be continued by next year’s President Tracy La who served as the 60 by 16 Commissioner this year. Voter turnout in student elections also increased. In last year’s election season, only 16% of the student body voted. This year, that number nearly doubled with 29.52% of the student population participating.
ASUCI members also worked to tackle food insecurity on campus. With the help of the Muslim Student Union, the SOAR food pantry was established and made available to all students regardless of financial background. Earlier this year, a student fee referendum of $3 per quarter per student to expand the food pantry passed with an 85.80% approval rating.
Despite all the challenges and setbacks, Khosravi sees the year as a learning experience and is glad to have had to chance to work with the executive board and all ASUCI members.
“We had moments where we all cried, we had moments where we laughed, we had moments where we were just done, we were frustrated at each other, we had all those moments,” said Khosravi. “But through it all we’re all friends, we’re leaving one family… This is the one thing that makes me able to leave with a very happy heart to know that maybe I failed some of these but I’m still able to leave knowing that at the end of the day I didn’t fail my constituents and my student body.”