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ASUCI Candidates Take The Virtual Stage For Debates

Update 4/13/2020: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of “CHOC,” previously misspelled as “CHALK.” Michelle Mallari’s year has been corrected to third, formerly listed as fourth, and her second major has also been added.

The last rounds of debates for ASUCI Senator, Vice Presidential and Presidential candidates took place during the week of April 6. These debates were done in preparation for the ASUCI elections, which will be held from April 13 to April 17. 

The debates took place over multiple Zoom teleconferences moderated by Elections Commissioner Gregory Torres. Questions asked were from the student body, ASUCI officials and former ASUCI officers.

Topics discussed during the debates ranged from mental health issues to proper allocation of ASUCI funds. Each senator was given two minutes to introduce their stance. Torres then proceeded to ask each senator questions that they could respond to for a minute and a half, with other senators being allowed a 30-second rebuttal.

The Senator-at-Large debates and debates for Senators from each academic school occurred on Monday, April 6. The Senator-At-Large debate featured 15 candidates, including some of the recently recalled senators — Faith Chua, Ryan Pavey, Joshua Wolfe, Gabriel Zanipatin and Nicholas Ortiz. The recalled senators are running under the “Fund The Clubs” slate, which is in vocal support of the ASUCI Constitution Referendum, or Legislation R55-43.

The student Advocate General debate also took place on Monday, and included 3 candidates —  Isabelle Lee, Wiley Wilson and Logan Knight, who is one of the 23 recalled senators.

Additional seats open for election included the Art, Biological Sciences, Humanities, Engineering, Information Computer Science, Pharmaceutical Science and Physical Science Senator seats.

The Presidential debates on Thursday, April 6, featured five candidates — Randy Yan, the incumbent ASUCI President, Michelle Mallari, running under the “Anteaters United” stance, Malik Carmichael running under the “Anteaters for Anteaters” stance, Praneet Sah under the “Take a Stance” slate and Cindy El Jamrah.

Yan, the incumbent president’s main talking point was his pledge to “repair transparency and accountability” and to re-engage the student body. He also discussed plans to re-envision campus safety and address basic needs and securities. Addressing concerns about the ASUCI budget, Yan highlighted the allocation of funds during his time as president, such as the $900,000 for professional staff expenses and salaries and $28,000 for mental health.

Sah, a third year computer science major, is running under the “Take a Stance” slate. He focused his talking points on economic issues and stressed a lack of communication in all levels of student government. 

“I see a lot of disconnect between the Student Body, ASUCI and the Senate,” Sah said.

His main goal is to reorganize the ASUCI budget of nearly $2.6 million, specifically the $7,000 spent on bank fees and $1,500 on credit card fees, all of which he claimed are unnecessary.

Mallari, a third year business administration and political science double major, ran under the “Anteaters United” slate. She stressed a lack of trust between ASUCI and the student body, as well as within ASUCI. 

“I see what UCI lacks,” Mallari said. “I plan to mold our student government into one that trusts the student body and one where officers can trust each other.

Carmichael, running under the “Anteaters for Anteaters” slate, is a third year political science major. Carmichael focused mainly on a program he wishes to implement that would provide financial relief to all students.

“Paying for rent, paying for course materials is getting even harder now, and we want to help with that,” Carmichael said.

Additionally, he addressed plans to end food and housing insecurity and establish temporary housing. 

“No anteater should ever go homeless,” he said. 

Jamrah, who did not run under a slate, focused on issues of gender inequality and her plan to address the situation.

“As a woman, I found ASUCI has discredited decisions of female-identifying students,” Jamrah said.

She focused her platform on empowering women and addressing their basic needs, from mental health to housing.

The Vice-Presidential debates on Tuesday covered Student Services VP, Academic Affairs VP, Internal VP and External VP.

Kicking off the night were Cathlyn Diller and Agustin Richardson, both running for Student Services VP, a position in charge of planning and running events for the student body. 

Diller is a third year business economics and sociology double major and has served as Student Services VP for three years. Her pitch focused on bringing in bigger events for next year and a desire to bring different types of events to campus, such as new music genres or specific sports, regardless of gender.

“Ultimately I want to provide you with lasting memories and school spirit for UCI even after you graduate,” Diller said.

Richardson, a third year political science major, focused on specific events he would bring back to campus, such as Shocktoberfest and Soulstice. He also stressed the importance of these events sparking passion and excitement for campus life, and spoke of his experience in Greek Life and time working at a marketing firm.

“I am running for this position to bring back excitement,” Richardson said.

Running for Academic Affairs VP are Gabriela Yonarta and Phil Jacob De Vera, who will serve “to provide resources, services, and programs designed to support and enrich the academic wellbeing of UCI students,” according to the Academic Affairs Mission Statement.

Yonarta is a second year psychological science major who served in Academic Affairs as the Academic Resource Commissioner. She emphasized how in that position, she worked to provide free scantrons and blue books to students and how she implemented a lottery system to provide reimbursements to students for their textbooks and access codes.

“I hope to push the envelope further in finding new and innovative ways to support our students academically,” Yonarta said.

De Vera, a first year biological sciences and business economics double major, is running under the “Anteaters United” slate. De Vera drew attention to  his commission’s work with CHOC and UNICEF as well as his work as Events Chair at Middle Earth’s Community Council, where he planned events for the housing community.

“We have truly been dedicated to developing the whole student, academically, professionally and socially,” De Vera said.

Hannah Quach and Kaitlyn Sapida are the two candidates for the office of Internal VP.

Sapida, a third year biological sciences major, focused her platform on the idea of basic need security as well as increasing knowledge of the available resources for all students. Working in ASUCI since her freshman year, she has focused the majority of her efforts in the food security commission on the “Zot Out Hunger” initiative. As Internal VP, she hopes to establish a permanent clothing donation program and host a sustainability conference with other UC schools to share UCI’s success. This conference would be utilized to gather information on sustainability strategies with other universities to further increase sustainability.

Quach, a third year business administration major, has worked for ASUCI since the summer before her freshman year as an intern at Anteaters in Action. As a sophomore, she served as the commissioner of the same commission, and this year transitioned to an intern under the current Internal VP. 

“I really hope to build an office that’s ready to connect and serve different student communities throughout campus,” Quach said.

External VP was the most populous debate of the night, with four candidates Alan Calderon, Melissa Cruz, Jacob Lohrbach and Andrew Yam.

Calderon, running under the “Anteaters United” slate, underlined the importance of localizing and centralizing student advocacy. He cited his work in housing, family and immigration law clerkships. His main focus is the organization of the student body and stepping back from the federal level to focus efforts on a state and local level to achieve lasting legislative change.

“Unless we institutionalize change with legislation the reality is that we’re going to be fighting the same fights year after year,” Calderon said.

Cruz, a second year political science major, started advocacy in her freshman year as the Middle Earth Community Council President. She discussed how she worked with the Womxn’s Hub to bring awareness of the available resources to the greater community. In addition, Cruz mentioned her work with the Resident Housing Association President to address housing insecurity among students.

“It’s important for me to make sure that I use my platform to reach out to my community back home and do the same thing in Irvine with external communities and other cities,” Cruz said.

Lohrbach, a second year economics major, focused his platform on his goal of working with the administration and local legislation to secure temporary housing for students that need a short term place to live, as well as rejuvenating campus resource centers and allowing them extra chances to promote their services to students.

“I think the External VP office should be most in tune and up to date with what students need the most … to be the best possible representative of the student body,” Lohrbach said.

Yam, a third year Political Science major, started his advocacy the summer before his freshman year as an intern for the Speaker of the California State AssemblyAnthony Rendon. Yam has also worked as an intern in the office of External VP for two years. As External VP, he hopes to establish a commission in Irvine to help deliver and voice students issues directly to the Irvine City Council.

“I hopefully will do my best to try to build bigger and better coalitions within our UCI community to make sure that we as a collective can stand up to Special Interests,” Yam said.

Due to the fact that the debates were not a mandatory requirement for candidacy, the list in this article does not necessarily represent a complete list of candidates. A complete list of candidates can be found on the ASUCI Election website.

ASUCI Elections begin April 13 and run through April 17. Students will be able to vote online via the ASUCI webpage.

Ian Michael Anzlowar is a Staff Writer. He can be reached at ianzlowa@uci.edu