Who is Running for USAC: The Few, The Proud

Photo by Josh Lee via WikiMediaCommons

With only 17 candidates vying for the 15 positions on the Undergraduate Students Association Council, this year’s USAC elections is shaping up to be more of a symbolic formality than a riveting display of political campaigning and representative democracy. In fact, two of the positions on the main USAC council have no candidates in the running, and will likely require a special election come fall quarter to fill the vacant spots.

This year’s elections has seen the lowest turnout of candidates in recent years. Last year’s election saw 39 candidates running. Meanwhile, this election has For the People as the only slate to put forward candidates. Not even the Bruins United slate, which has put forward candidates since 2004, had any candidates this year. Some students argue problems with the USAC election board chair and candidate submission deadlines have contributed to the lack of publicity for this year’s elections. However, many cite lack of knowledge about USAC’s purposes and a negative impression overall of the council for the low turnout.

Nevertheless, in the name of promoting political awareness and student engagement, here are the platforms of the 17 candidates:

President

Millen Srivastava is a third-year biology and political science student. Her platform falls under the acronym H.E.R. Her Health Advocacy platform would promote sexual health through the creation of a reproductive justice health center on campus, mental health through advocating for more funding towards Campus Assault Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) and Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.), and physical health through education on heart disease prevention. Her missions for Equity & Empowerment include expansion of the UC Women’s Leadership Conference and the creation of a womxn’s council of student leaders, administrators, and professors dubbed “INTERSECT: Womxn’s Connections and Communication Council.” Her Resources & Scholarships platform promotes student scholarships, South Campus inclusivity, and the creation of a YouTube channel “UCLA 101: Let’s Make It Sample” to help incoming students adjust to UCLA life. She is running as an Independent.

Robert Watson is a third-year political science and economics student. His platforms are based on a mission to promote the needs and voices of students through 3 A’s: Accessibility, Affordability, Acceptance. He aims to include student organizations on a new Presidential Search Committee. His proposed affordable solutions include cheaper laundry services, free blue books and scantrons, and working with UCLA’s Basic Needs Committee. His acceptance platform aims to promote queer/trans inclusive housing, and prevent gender identity/sexual orientation based discrimination. He is running as an Independent.

Furkan Yalcin is a fourth-year political science student. He is the president of the Shenanigan Comedy Club at UCLA, and a member of the Outreach and Communications Committee and Community Activities and Projects Committee on the North Westwood Neighborhood Council. Yalcin is also a News Department Manager and on the board of directors for UCLA Radio. He is running as an Independent.

Internal Vice President

Kimberly Bonifacio is a third-year political science student minoring in global studies and gender studies. Her platforms include the creation of a Student Advocacy Partnership composed of student groups to bring up concerns and issues on campus. She wants to provide grassroots organizing trainings to teach students how to advocate for themselves and their communities. She aims to revamp the USAC website with updated funding applications, streamlined USAC office staff applications, and a database of apartments located in Westwood. Also, she aims to expand the oversight of the Campus Safety Alliance and re-establish Campus Safety Awareness Week. She is running under the For The People slate.

External Vice President

Johana Guerra Martinez is a third-year political science student. Her platforms focus on: Sanctuary for All, Basic Needs Advocacy, and Comprehensive Immigration Reform Advocacy. When it comes to Sanctuary, Guerra Martinez wants to divest from ICE and support AFSCME’s Sanctuary Demands. Her advocacy for basic needs include financial need, housing insecurity, and food accessibility. In addition, she aims to introduce a Deportation Defense Initiative. She is running as an Independent.

General Representative

Eduardo “Lalo” Vasquez is a third-year chicana/o/x studies student with a minor in disability studies. His platforms include working with the Center for Accessible Education to advocate for more one-on-one support for students. He plans to advocate for CAPS to implement more sensitivity trainings to better support marginalized communities. He aims to raise funds to help supplement costs for cultural events on campus. He also plans to advocate for study list charges to be waived to be more accessible for low-income students. He is running under the For The People slate.

Academic Affairs Commissioner

Oscar Macias is a fourth-year sociology student. He is a chairperson of the USAC Student Initiated Outreach Committee and the Public Relations chair for Hermanos Unidos de UCLA. He is running as an Independent.

Naomi Riley is a second-year political science student with a double minor in chicano/a/x studies and African-American Studies. Her platforms include a focus on accessibility, with plans to pay student senators of the Academic Senate for their labor, dismantle the SAT requirement, and advocate for better use of online materials and faculty for underserved communities. She also plans to increase book lending time from two to four hours, advocate the use of online textbooks to professors, and continue programs such as book subsidies and i-Clicker. In addition she aims to redesign Covel Commons as a study space, open Royce Late Nite hours/Powell at Night, partner with study spaces in Westwood to alleviate over-enrollment, and expand technology efforts with a laptop rental pilot program. Riley aims to promote a sanctuary campus by advocating for more trauma-informed best practices for UCLA faculty and staff, creating a mental health awareness fiat lux initiative, priority enrollment for moms, and increasing AAC’s political activity on social issues. She is running under the For The People slate.

Campus Events Commissioner

Tara Steinmetz is a member of the Campus Events Commission. She is running as an Independent.

Community Service Commissioner

Jonathan Wisner is a second-year international development studies student. He is a Resident Assistant and a member of the USAC Community Service Mini Fund Committee. He is running as an Independent.

Cultural Affairs Commissioner

Kelechi Nunny Iheanacho is a physiological science and African-American studies student, and a member of the Cultural Affairs Commission. She is running under the For The People slate.

Facilities Commissioner

Lily Shaw is a third-year political science student. Her platform aims to address campus “faccessibility,” infrastructure, resources, and environmental sustainability. She plans to hold weekly office hours as an open forum for students and faculty. She also aims to create a new website for the USAC Facilities Commission with updates on projects and an open submission form. Her Project L.I.T. aims to improve the lighting needs on campus to ensure safety, improve infrastructure, and expand transportation services including Bruin Bus stops and CSO van accommodations. Her Project Blank Space will transform underutilized spaces on campus to best serve students. Her Project Sustainagoals aims to reduce campus water waste, introduce reusable dining hall containers and silverware through the Ozzi program, and recycle goods through the quarterly Bruins Bazaar. She is running as an Independent.

Student Wellness Commissioner

Mihika Sridhar is a a third-year microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics student minoring in public affairs. Her platforms include the dubbed “Health for Heritage” that would include an annual week celebrating culturally-conscious health programming and encourage collaboration between Student Wellness Commission committees and cultural student organizations. Her “Make Title IX Mine” initiative would include working with Title IX administrators to make their processes accessible to marginalized communities on campus. “Insurance Literacy = Legitimacy” aims to establish a Health Insurance Awareness Day and publicize research-based, instructional documentation on health insurance plans/providers in the area. Her “Hotbod HotSpots” would implement body and self-acceptance messaging specific to campus hotspots such as fitness centers, libraries, stores, and eateries. She is running as an Independent.

Ty Pearson is a third-year anthropology and public health student. His platforms are based around “Justice, Community, and Resilience.” His “Never in Need” initiative aims to work with UCLA administrators and departments to fund and expand campus dispensary stations for basic necessities. “Our Health is Political” would institutionalize a critical lens within SWC’s programming, outreach, and advocacy efforts that acknowledges how politics, personal identities, and policies affect Bruins’ health. “Action for Food Justice” would introduce a food justice day of action to address systemic factors of food insecurity through teach-ins, community organizing, and advocacy. “The Cost of Care” would increase funding for health insurance fee waivers, subsidies, financial aid, and improve policies in response to rising costs of UC SHIP. “Healthcare Uncovered” would highlight stigmatized health services available with UC SHIP, such as contraceptive resources and HIV+ medication, through a year-long campaign. “Building Safer Communities” would see work done with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to provide chapters’ leadership with Crisis Management preparation and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training certification. He is running as an Independent.

Transfer Student Representative

Isabel Oraha is a third-year Middle Eastern studies and history student, and has worked with the Transfer Representative office as the director Outreach and Student Affairs for the 2018-2019 school year. She is running as an Independent.

International Student Representative

Shahamah Tariq is a second-year engineering student. Her platforms include “Let’s Talk International,” which would organize international themed events to promote and inform students about the different cultures at UCLA. “Discover Us” aims to establish a social media presence to become hub of information for international students and connect them to cultural organizations on campus. “Global Scholars” would inform international students about professional and academic opportunities at UCLA and post-graduation. “Be Heard” would further international student advocacy efforts on campus and UC-wide through connecting administration, advocacy groups, and campus organizations.

Voting will take place on MyUCLA starting Monday April 29 and ends on Friday, May 3 at 3 p.m. The election board will announce results the same day by 7 p.m.

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