4 | EVPSA & SAG CANDIDATES
TBL | April 22-24, 2014
Candidates for External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Interviews by Giuseppe Ricapito IV BEAT REPORTER
MELVIN SINGH // OPP What makes you the candidate for the EVPSA?
I’m the better candidate because I actually have experience in the EVPSA office. I’m currently the campus organizing director, which means I work closely with not just people in the office of EVPSA but also organizations like UCSA [University of California Student Association] and USSA [United States Student Association]. The way EVPSA office works, one of the things written in the Legal Code, is that they have to be one of the liaisons of these organizations to connect the university with other universities both statewide and nationwide. I’ve been able to gain experience with organizing the office and staff members to enact these campaigns to better student needs. Furthermore I think that the office environment also lends me an advantage in the way that I understand the structure of it. I understand the positions of everybody in the office and how each of those little pieces go together. And because of that I can mobilize better, I can delegate roles better than my opponent. And furthermore a lot of the issues that the EVPSA addresses I’ve had experiences with myself— when it comes to things like financial aid or having spaces where you’re represented. I feel like I can be the voice for these individuals that we find here on campus as well as for the student body in general. If elected, what do you hope to accomplish while in office? The biggest thing, I want to start the process of working from the ground up. So this means working from the campus level up to the statewide level. Firstly, I think the office needs to be more heavily publicized and accessible to students. The problem right now I think is because there’s a lot of “drugging” that goes into the stuff I deal with. Things like Regents meeting, all these bills and legislations. So I want to work on making these issues accessible through any kinds of means. We live in the 21st century now, so we can use things like social media, YouTube, and even Buzzfeed for instance, to appeal to students that we have here. I would totally love to even have people from the press, like TBL, sit in on our staff meetings so they can report us—to not only reach out to students but to keep ourselves accountable for things we do. Because you know, transparency begins with things like that. I’m personally a double major in political science and film, and I’ve see a lot of talent that comes out from students here. Like I mentioned earlier with you being a writer and me working on KCSB, I see a lot of film students here that would love to get their hands on doing more production work. Cause a lot of the stuff we have on campus is theoretical. So, the biggest thing I think I want to leave behind when it comes to the EVPSA Office is making sure people are aware of it, because only then can we tackle issues like financial aid. Only then can we tackle issues like pushing bills through to lobby, to address the needs that we need. Because it starts from the ground up. What are some of the most important issues for students to be aware of regarding statewide policies and how will you work to inform students on these issues? Firstly of course, we always hear about tuition rates. There’s rumors going on right now about the Regents raising tuition, and the biggest thing I would do right away is to mobilize students, to publicize them, or to publicize these issues. And make sure that they’re aware of them and that they have the information that they need. And this goes through everything that we’ve done through the office. Social media, like I mentioned earlier, and just through AS because the thing is that these issues not only affect our office, but all students. So the idea is to make sure that students are understanding the impact these issues have. Regarding tuition, like I said, I would mobilize students, I would take them to Regents meetings, I would hit up our State Assemblyman member Das Williams. He’s been helpful in the past—he sits on the high education committee right now. I would work with our legislators that I’ve had contact with, such as Hannah Beth Jackson and Lois Capps, to make sure that not only do students have their actions but also that legislators do their part, to make sure they represent their constituency. We are the biggest voting bloc of any university nationwide, so what they do really matters and we need to keep them accountable. So in regards to the tuition rates and financial aid,
those are some ways that I would go about it. Furthermore I would work on making sure that more students are able to lobby. I know that we have a student lobby as one of the organizations here at campus, but I think it should be bigger because I don’t see enough numbers of people who are going to these conferences or people who already know about the issues. So what I would do is try to make sure that we are fiscally responsible in the way we spend money so that way we could have bigger delegations of students to open things up for future leaders to make their mark at UCSB. What is your impression of the UC Regents? How do you plan on relating campus issues to the UC system’s highest governing body? I’m actually the UCSB liaison to the Student Regent Designate, who is going to be the next student regent after [Cynthia Flores] leaves office, so [Sadia Saifuddin] will become the next Student Regent. There’s actually several ways we can go about this. One, I want to push UCSA to increase the amount of Student Regents that they have. One of the things I love about UCSA is that they were the ones who pushed for having a student regent on the board, but we still only have one. Versus all the many Regents sitting on the Board, that’s not enough to amplify student voices. Furthermore, we need Student Regents from the undergrad, the graduate, and professional schools—that way not only are we represented, but also other students as well. Because we get kind of lost in this whole undergraduate bubble but we forget that there’s bigger things out there. After we graduate we’re going to have to worry about further education afterwards. So let’s make sure we have a sense of foresight when it comes to addressing the Regents. Furthermore, with my liaison role to the Student Regent Designate, I’ve gotten insight into the way certain Regents feel about students. We have people like Regent [George] Kieffer, who came to campus earlier in the school year, who was very receptive, he was an alumni from UC Santa Barbara and he understands that students need a bigger voice and he’s more receptive to it. And then, you know, there’s some people that sort of toss students aside and think their problems aren’t worth it. I think the way that we need to remind Regents that our opinions are worth it is the fact that we are the future of California. The biggest capital that California has is education. The UC system is the finest public education system in the world. People move to California, start companies here, because there are so much knowledgeable people here. So I think we need to remind them that we are the future. A lot of Regents work with companies and known companies, and we know that we might be taking response one day. An investment in the students is an investment for California. And that would be my big picture to push on the Regents. If you could have a sit-down with UC President Janet Napolitano, what would you discuss with her? First I want to say that’s actually not a hypothetical— working the office I’ve actually seen Alex Choate, the current EVPSA, have a Google Hangout with Janet Napolitano. One of the things I want to put out there is she is actually willing to work with the students. And the biggest reason is, of course, the fact that she is a politician–so everything that she does matters, everything that she fails at matters, everything that she succeeds at matters. So knowing the facts that a lot of her job relies on her reputation, I want to make sure she’s receptive to the students when I have these sit down conversations. The biggest thing of course would be— there’s actually a lot of things to address—is the California Master Plan. She’s been fairly receptive to it and fairly supportive of it and I think we can launch the UC system into a better era once this thing gets pushed through this way. The UC system, just the California education system, can be better structured in a way that suits students’ financial needs and their educational needs. Furthermore, I want to make sure that I’m receptive to the communities that we have here on campus. When Napolitano was elected there was a huge outlash and it’s understandable. I’m from an immigrant family myself, so it’s really heartbreaking to think about the possibility of my family structure being ruined by someone who’s now in power… I want to make sure that you keep her accountable through this role. Because this is one of the roles that are actually privileged to have these interactions with Janet Napolitano, and I want to make sure that all our voices are heard. But at the same time, it’s like you said, it’s a sit down conversation. I’m not going to be yelling and screaming at her, but I am going to be working with her. And that’s really what matters, is making sure that I’m working with her on the same level, that way that we can work together and make sure student needs are met.
KASHIRA AYERS // DPP What makes you the candidate for the EVPSA?
Why I’m a better candidate for this position is the fact that I have experience organizing, I’ve organized the list of demands with the Black Student Union that we send to the Chancellor. And part of that was getting two psychologists who studied the Black world to come onto campus and work with students, and Black students specifically, to increase our retention rate. Another part is advocating to hire a diversity initiative counselor in the admissions office, who’s been hired and is initially getting more student intent to working in the admissions office right now, for recruitment and retention of Black students on campus. So I’ve helped a lot of students organizing–it’s kind of what I do well. I’ve worked in the Office of the Student Advocate. I was Chief of Staff last year, this year I am the RA for the Black Scholars Floor, [and] I am also the chief of staff of Black Watch, which is a newsletter on campus that works for the positive uplift of black students on this campus. So I do have a lot of experience with community organizing, with mobilizing people, with getting the student body together with coalition building… I have that experience with doing work and seeing tangible change from the work I’ve been putting in. If elected, what do you hope to accomplish while in office? From talking to students, I’ve realized students have problems with their tuition: tuition being really expensive, students not necessarily knowing where their tuition is going to. And I’ve talked to students who don’t even know what the UC Regents are. I’ve talked to students who don’t know the state legislator. I feel like my role in this office, if elected, is to educate students on legislation that affects students. You know how like Prop. 30 came up, like SC-A5–legislation that affects students that we don’t directly know about. And secondly, after educating students, I plan to hold state legislators accountable by doing phone campaigns, by talking to students about the things that they need and making sure that the legislators are being held accountable and are being transparent with us. Additionally, I feel like its problematic that we only have one student regent representing all nine UC campuses, right? So what I plan to do is to run a campaign to get at least one more student on the Board of Regents. Cause I know that right now they’re going through the whole process, it probably wont be this year, but next year hopefully. Additionally, I just plan to be a resource for students who are engaged in statewide politics, want to learn more… And I plan to have an open station, an open office, for students who want to critically engage in our institution, who want to think critically about the appointment of Napolitano and the UC Regents, who also just want to be educated and well informed. What are some of the most important issues for students to be aware of regarding statewide policies and how will you work to inform students on these issues? So it’s something that I’ve been working on with the IGNITE campaign (Invest in Graduation Not Incarceration, Transform Education)— and a part of that is PROP 218, that’s basically… Box 23 which asks on the FAFSA if a student has been convicted of a criminal charge, and more specifically they ask about marijuana. And I feel like that weeds out so many students, especially students of color who have made that mistake of being caught in possession of marijuana. And everything, as well as SC-A5 which… competes with Prop 209. So my plan is the educate the student body about these different bills and how they affect us, and…more specifically they affect students of color on this campus. And I feel like me being a Black student on this campus, sometimes I feel furious being sometimes the only Black person in front my classrooms. And I’m not the only one that feels this way, because I’ve talked to other people about it. So I want to make sure that we have a voice when these legislations are on the table. And I want to make sure when some of these senators are passing these legislative bills–or not passing them–we’re calling their officers and we’re telling them why these
bills need to be passed, or why they shouldn’t be passed. What is your impression of the UC Regents? How do you plan on relating campus issues to the UC system’s highest governing body? First of all, when it comes to UC Regents, I think they have 12-year terms, right? So I feel like first of all that’s too long for anyone to be in a position of power. Second of all, I feel like we should be holding them accountable in the sense that they should not be appointed, they should be elected. So first of all, we need to shorten their terms, second of all, we need to change the process of them being appointed… Thirdly, I feel like our students of the campus, if they’re buying stuff from the bookstore or other places on campus… you write, “Paid to the UC Regents.” We should all know who these Regents are; we should know their background and I feel like most of them don’t have a background in education. Although some of them are a product of the UC themselves, I feel like most of them are corporate business owners and because they hold so much weight over the student body, I feel like we should be able to know who they are, have conversations with them, and when they come, we shouldn’t be exclusive about who’s going into these forums and talking to them. Whenever they do come to this school to talk to students, all students are welcome to this meeting. I feel like it has to be more than us meeting with one Regent at time, but having a forum where we invite all the Regents to come out and discuss what it is that they do and what it is their job was. I actually didn’t know anything about the Regents until I went to UCSA last summer, and I feel like that’s a shame, because being a student here I should automatically know who the Regents are, and what their goals and plans are for students, and why they’re in that position first of all. I feel like that goes into communication. Communication is key in everything we do. So I feel like with the EVPSA Office I have a lot of authority when it comes to communicating with Regents and Napolitano and other figures. And my plan to do so is to talk to students, first of all, about what the student body needs, because I know we have a very diverse population of people. That’s just not in ethnicities or sexualities, but in ideologies and thoughts. So I do plan to work more with the students and hear what the students need, especially students that don’t feel represented within AS. Especially our queer students on campus, our trans students on campus, our low-income community students on campus, our middle class communities on campus. And talk to them about what it is they need, what it is they think can be done in a tangible means, and how can the Regents support them, how can counselors support them, how can other entities on campus support them. And I plan on bringing that information back to the people that can create this change. And if it does mean that the students getting together and creating a coalition and sending demands to these people, then that’s what its going to be. My plan is to make change for communities that want to see change happen. My plan isn’t to speak for those communities, but to amplify their voices to the people who can change them. So I plan to keep communication with them, I plan to hold them accountable, and I plan for the students to be informed in every step of the process. If you could have a sit-down with UC President Janet Napolitano, what would you discuss with her? I don’t necessarily agree with her appointment, like I stated earlier. I don’t agree with her background in homeland security. I do think that our UC President should be a product of the UC and a product of education. So first of all I would talk to her about what she did while she was in Homeland Security. I would talk to her about her beliefs and values when it comes to undocumented communities on this campus. I would make sure that she’s doing something to support our undocumented communities. There’s no way to undo what she has done, but I would make sure that she is working with these communities. I feel like I said earlier, communication is key. And a lot of the times I work with some of the undocumented students on this campus and I know that they don’t feel comfortable with her being our president. So I would tell that to her bluntly. I would ask her what can she do in her office, because she is already appointed, to change the unrest she caused our undocumented community on this campus. And furthermore, I would ask her what she plans to do for the students and why she isn’t being transparent with the students. And why, when she did do her UC discussion tour, that she was really closed office and she didn’t want to meet with all students. I would ask her to meet with all students as well.
STUDENT ADVOCATE GENERAL: For information about Student
Advocate General candidates Amir Khazaieli and Bailey Loverin, check out our interviews at bottomlineucsb.com.