Vice Presidential Candidates Debate Their Visions for Campus Future

ASUCI held its vice presidential debates last Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in the Pacific Ballroom in the Student Center. The debate featured eight candidates across the four separate vice president positions: External Affairs Vice President, Internal Affairs Vice President, Academic affairs Vice President and Student Services Vice President.  

The External Vice President coordinates outreach and issues external to the UCI campus, and is primarily involved in campus advocacy. In practice, this means lobbying local government, lobbying the state government and working with the University of California Student Association (UCSA). The only candidate for this position is Zoe Broussard.

Broussard, a second-year psychology & social behavior major, spoke about her support for marginalized communities, including the black and trans communities at UCI. She also stated her desire to create a more concrete process of complaint to ASUCI, in order to better represent the views and desires of the general student population. She stated that her support for UCSA was conditional upon their effectiveness and support for UCI.

The Internal Vice President represents student views to UC Irvine administration. This position also focuses on reforming existing administrative services like parking and transportation, food services and mental health services. Four candidates are running for the position: Lucia La Roche, Brittany Nguyen, Tamara Nabulsi and Jackson Brians.

Tamara Nabulsi is a third-year transfer student and psychology & social behavior major. Nabulsi advocated for the creation of a platform, like Broussard, where students can more directly and openly voice their needs to ASUCI, so that ASUCI can have more specific, unbiased goals. She stated that ASUCI must have clear perspective on what students want before moving ahead on issues. Nabulsi stated that connecting students to mental health services was a priority of hers, as well as fixing the parking crisis and supporting sustainability initiatives.

Jackson Brians is a second-year undeclared major. Brians stated that ASUCI has unaddressed issues that it needs to resolve within itself before it works on projects elsewhere. He stated his support for student movements and activism on parking, housing and food services, but stated that ASUCI specifically needs to focus on internal efficiency and transparency before moving onto those other issues.

Brians also considers parking a major concern, among many other issues. He stated that ASUCI needs to be more aggressive in advocating for student services around campus and that it needs to utilize a broad base of student support to fight for change. Brians wants to establish an ASUCI parking commission and a joint committee between the executive and legislative branches of ASUCI to work on parking issues. He also wants to use Senate’s powers to withhold approval for further construction on campus.

Brittany Nguyen is a third-year public health policy major and education minor. She has been involved in ASUCI for three years and is currently serving as the Recruitment and Retention Commissioner. Nguyen emphasized the need for transparency and open communication about events with students.

She stated that she would like to work more actively with campus media organizations like Anteater TV and the New University to better inform students about ongoing events and issues. She also stated the need for ASUCI officials to be more open about their meetings and discussions. Nguyen states her intention to work on sustainability issues, housing and also expand food services on campus. She also argued that ASUCI needs to work on increasing the quality of resources for international students.

Lucia La Roche is a third-year public health policy major with a minor in civic and community engagement. La Roche plans to increase student outreach if elected. She stated that housing and campus safety is a major policy concern for her. La Roche will also emphasize diversity within ASUCI so that a broader range of students at UCI have representation.

The Academic Affairs Vice President oversees the Academic Senate and represents student educational desires to faculty and administration. This position also works to foster educational opportunities outside of class. Two candidates are running for the position: Leila Danishgar and Kayla Cooper.

Danishgar is a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology major with minor in public health sciences. She is the current chief of staff for the Office of Academic Affairs. Danishgar emphasized the role of the Academic Senate in advocating for mental health resource information on class syllabi and reducing the costs of textbooks and other classroom materials. She also stated the need for outreach and the need to enrich students with a wide variety of academic opportunities. Danishgar stated she would prioritize the commission on academic policy to better serve the needs of students.

Cooper is a third-year public health science major. Cooper emphasized the need to expand outreach so that students can be connected to opportunities that they might not know that they have. She also advocated for creating a more diverse and transparent Office of Academic Affairs so that a diverse group of qualified individuals could join ASUCI. Cooper wants to create a textbook program to allow for the direct sale or loan of textbooks between students. Cooper stated that she would prioritize working with the large amount of undecided and undeclared students on campus.

Student Services Vice President runs most of the entertainment-based, communal events on campus throughout the year, such as Soulstice and Shocktoberfest. The only candidate running for this position is Rusteen Haghi.

Haghi is a third-year business administration student with a minor in education. She wants to create a marketing and social media commission in order to increase outreach and attendance of student athletic games. She thinks that targeted media campaigns can increase attendance to sport events that have lower attendance. Haghi also emphasized the need for the Office of Student Services to have a diverse staff of enthusiastic people.