ASUCI candidates participated in a series of debates last week.
Presidential candidates Gurneel Boparai, Thao “Annie” Le and Sui Feng Xu shared their platforms and goals as ASUCI president if they were to assume the position last Thursday, April 13.
In opening statements, Boparai, a second-year quantitative economics major and current ASUCI Senate President, touched on the importance of “building narrative … and story” as well as continual advocacy for issues facing UC students.
“We see issues are piling up for students … and our leaders burn out trying to push for these issues,” Boparai said.
Le, a second-year biological sciences major, touched on how her personal experiences have prepared her for the role and responsibilities as ASUCI president: “My personal trauma has instilled in me the empathy to advocate for the traumatized and uplift narrative by advocating with intersectionality,” she said.
Le also iterated that her current position as the Office of the President’s chief of staff has allowed her to work with various commissioners to improve campus climate.
Xu, a third-year computer science major who is currently the president of the Informatics and Computer Science (ICS) Student Council, said he was running on behalf of students not usually represented by ASUCI and wanted to help transform the campus “to be a better environment for everyone.”
ASUCI Vice Presidential debates were held April 12.
Holly Woods, sole candidate for External Vice President, when questioned about ways she would engage students, said, “I would not talk about things in terms of statistics, but I would use testimonials of student voices.” She would concentrate on strengthening the relationship between students and the student regents, so students could have the knowledge of the ways they “affect our everyday lives.”
“It’s just about openness and creation of a safe space for organizations to voice their concerns,” Woods said.
Sanjanaa Ellur, unopposed for the position of Internal Vice President, spoke of her plans to increase awareness and action on issues of food and housing insecurity, as well as her plans to ensure other basic needs like parking.
“I think one of the ways I tried to combat this would be through the Zot Out Hunger program, but I am also working on a new program where students can use Tinder to swipe on students who have meal plans,” she said. If elected, she would collaborate with Senate boards to increase student awareness of advisory board positions. “These advisory boards, believe me, hold a lot of power when it comes to the allocation of student fees and deciding how administration is using these fees.”
Kyle Dimla, candidate for Academic Affairs Vice President would collaborate with the Internal Vice President to make sure students receive proper academic resources at affordable rates. “We already paid for so much, why should we pay for our study materials?”
Dimla also wants to create a streamline communication between students and faculty in the Academic Senate through student platforms and academic engagement. “I think definitely there’s a big gap between faculty and students,” he said. “Sometimes we forget that faculty are people too.”
Dilraj Toor, candidate for the Student Services Vice President, he wants to plan more culturally diverse events to increase student school spirit, which he believes is there, but not engaged enough. “The best thing we could do [to engage non-commuter as well as commuter and transfer students] is to make more personal connections through our staff.”
Priscilla McGregor, Toor’s competition for the seat of Student Services Vice President, and Galina Birko, Student Advocate General candidate, did not attend the debate.
At the Senate Candidates Forum and Referendum Town Hall last Tuesday, April 11, candidates took the Crystal Cove stage to discuss their platforms and qualifications for Senate.
First, however, a representative spoke on behalf of this year’s only referendum on the ballot, Measure ATV. The referendum calls for an undergraduate student fee of 75 cents per quarter to support AnteaterTV, a student-run videography platform. If approved, the funding would be used to support ATV’s operation and programming costs, and would end after 30 years unless renewed.
ATV President Lynslee Mercado said that with revenue from the fee, the club could purchase enough cameras and other equipment to become a “working classroom able to teach students visual media, anchorship, production, et cetera.”
“We’re trying to work toward something UCI can be proud of, something students can participate in,” Mercado said.
Following the Referendum Town Hall, four out of the nine at-large senate candidates appeared for the Senate Forum portion of the evening. At-large senators represent UCI’s entire undergraduate student body rather than a specific school; all undergraduates, regardless of their major, may vote for at-large senators. There are seven available at-large senator positions.
One candidate, Rutuja Sabnis, a first-year-biological sciences major, was one of about 500 UCI students whose admission offer was rescinded last summer and later reinstated. Her platform focuses on issues of student over-enrollment — “getting waitlisted for classes, having trouble graduating” — as well as mental health access, food insecurity and housing insecurity.
Faith Chua, another student who had her admissions offer rescinded, said that ASUCI executives reached out to her last summer with a statement of support regarding the situation. After Chua’s offer was reinstated and she became a UCI student, she resolved to join ASUCI so that she could “work to ensure that students like me don’t experience what I experienced,” she said. If elected at-large senator, she also hopes to advocate for financial literacy on campus, as well as support student mentorship programs and undergraduate research opportunities.
Saul Lopez-Pulido is a DREAMer who said that as at-large senator, he hopes to move the DREAM Center and Womxn’s Center, currently located in Lot 5 adjacent to the Fresh Needs Hub, closer to Ring Road where students can more easily access them. He also hopes to “whip Senate into shape more in [regards to] parliamentary procedure,” advocate for housing security and transfer student resources, and help undergraduates transition into graduate and professional schools.
Finally, Isaac Ruvalcaba based his platform on his support for underrepresented communities. “Personally, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve seen firsthand the necessity certain groups have for a person on the inside to directly represent them,” he said of his decision to run for ASUCI Senate. Ruvalcaba says that as a representative, he will also focus on mental and physical health resources on campus.
Senate candidates for a number of individual schools also explained their platforms, which can be found at: www.elections.uci.edu/asuci/
Voting opens week 3; ballots will be available online from Monday, April 16 at 9 a.m. until Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. Results will be available week 4.