After interviewing all of the A.S. presidential candidates, the Guardian editorial board awards its endorsement to Unity candidate Jeff Dodge, based on his extensive experience and practical ideas.

Dodge, the current vice president internal, has served on the A.S. Council since his freshman year. While A.S. experience does not automatically qualify a candidate to become president, Dodge has distinguished himself as a councilmember that gets involved and gets things done.

His experience on council is wide-ranging. He has served as a senator for two years and an executive member for one year. When he was a sophomore senator, the senate elected him as its chair.

Dodge has sat on both the A.S. internal and finance committees, the Chancellor’s Budget Committee, the University Centers Advisory Board and the Student Initiated Outreach and Retention Committee.

Dodge said that if he is elected, he would do his best to promote a nimble and effective executive cabinet, which consists of the president and three vice presidents.

He stressed that it is absolutely necessary that the executive cabinet set the pace of the entire A.S. Council, and for that reason, he sees it as crucial that the executive cabinet be able to work together despite any personal or ideological differences.

He said the key to keeping unity in a cabinet that could consist of more than one slate is to identify and work toward common goals.

Dodge noted that the A.S. Council under last year’s President Tesh Khullar was very effective in this respect. It was a divided council, but since it was so determined to fight for compromise, it was able to get things done, Dodge said.

One of Dodge’s main selling points is his strong advocacy for increasing support for student organizations.

He proposes more than the typical increase in funding for student organizations championed by virtually every candidate who wishes to have the slightest chance of victory. Dodge emphasizes the need for a physical presence in student organizations to help better understand their needs and to offer the assistance of the A.S. Council whenever it is needed.

Dodge maintains that it is not enough for A.S. Council members to help fund a student organization’s event, with the council’s only presence being a little icon in the bottom corner of some flyers. He would insist that members of the council physically show up to the events that they sponsor, noting that it would contribute to the event’s success as well as project a positive and pro-active image of the A.S. Council.

Of course, Dodge also publicly supports expansion and increased funding for student organizations.

His goals are to help facilitate the expansion of the Cross Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center. He also wishes to create a commuter and transfer student center.

Obviously, doing these things will cost money. Well, Dodge even has an idea of where he’ll get it.

According to Dodge, tens of thousands of dollars go unused by clubs and student organizations every year. This money comes back to the A.S. Council at the beginning of the next year and goes into a large unallocated monies fund that is not included in the annual budget. Dodge said that he is in favor of using all of that money to increase funding of student organizations.

On the issue of increasing racial and cultural diversity at UCSD, Dodge has a plan that takes into account the fact that he will not be able to do everything himself. For this reason, he says he would create a commissioner of cultural affairs position with the specific purpose of promoting cultural diversity on campus.

At a school known for its academics more than anything else, Dodge has some ideas to help students to learn more and to have more flexibility.

Specifically, Dodge is advocating a 24-hour library during finals week. He also said that he strongly supports the efforts of O.A.S.I.S. and the Academic Success Program.

Candidates who are new to the A.S. Council often make the point that spending too much time on the council can lead a person to become too much of a politician.

While Dodge has been on council since fifth week of his freshman year and has always run with a slate, we have seen firsthand that he is not bound by slate loyalties.

As Vice President Internal, he has run council meetings in a fair and unbiased manner. Last year, when two members of his former slate, Students First, were caught in a scandal, he was not afraid to publically criticize them.

Finally, when asked during an interview which A.S. president was most effective in the past three years, he named Joe Leventhal, a president who was often at odds with members of the slate Dodge was on at the time. He gave less credit to current president Doc Khaleghi, with whom Dodge ran on a slate last year.

In terms of experience, Dodge has the obvious upperhand. He has participated in such a broad spectrum of UCSD activities that he knows this campus and its students as well as anyone. He also knows the A.S. Council. He is easily the most veteran member of the council running for a position.

His platform is well-polished and it shows maturity, experience and forthought. With so much experience and such a solid and realistic platform, the Guardian cannot help but throw its weight behind Jeff Dodge for A.S. Council president.

Ali Yazdi

One candidate Ali Yazdi is well-qualified for the office of president, but falls short of being as qualified as his opponent, Jeff Dodge. Yazdi, who unsuccessfully ran for president last year, has sat on the A.S. Council for two years, most recently as Revelle senior senator.

Yazdi’s ideas are unique and we agree with most of them.

For example, Yazdi has proposed eliminating Club Ritmo and WinterFest in order to have a better FallFest and Sun God Festival, and to possibly bring back the MTV Campus Invasion, which would bring another big name to campus. While we don’t necessarily agree with the elimination of Club Ritmo, we agree that the $40,000 WinterFest should be eliminated so that we have more money to spend on the other two festivals. Programming at UCSD needs a lot of help, and we believe that next year’s council needs to do something significant, possibly drastic, to improve the situation.

Yazdi also proposes saving money by eliminating A.S. executive budgets, which provide council executives with extra money for miscellaneous business-related expenses. We applaud Yazdi for making such a proposal and we hope that if he is elected, he sticks to that plan, putting the good of the students in front of his own.

Yazdi has a plan to link Triton Taxi to other local colleges and universities. While we feel that such a plan is impractical, we support a general expansion of Triton Taxi concurring with Yadzi’s intentions.

The Guardian also has mixed thoughts on Yazdi’s campus safety plan. While we support more call boxes on campus and security in parking lots, we find his plan to implement weekend shuttle service a waste of money.

One idea that Yazdi and many of his slate members proposed was making the A.S. Council autonomous. While the Guardian will not yet take a position on such an issue, we believe it at least deserves to be looked into. Yazdi realizes that this is not something he can do in one year, but if elected, he promises to get the ball rolling by studying such a proposal.

Yazdi said in his interview that rather than taking on the popular issues of parking and housing, he is focusing on more realistic issues such as campus safety and programming. Yet in his candidate statement he promised increased student parking and solutions to housing problems. We question this anomoly, and hope that it is not an accurate representation of what otherwise seems to be an honest person.

Yazdi has the ideas and the experience to effectively represent students, but in the end, we believe that Dodge will do a better job. If Yazdi is elected, however, and holds true to many of his promises, he will make a positive mark on this campus.

Noah Levin

Muir junior Noah Levin markets himself as a visible member of the campus community and one who has met over 1,000 UCSD students. He says he loves UCSD and wants to make the campus a university that students can be proud of.

Levin has experience on Muir College Council and identifies two big problems at UCSD as being programming and parking.

Levin believes that the lack of UCSD pride could be solved by stronger programming. He proposes that there should be at least one social event per weekend, and a spirit night once per quarter. He plans on funding these events by working with sports teams and student organizations, co-sponsoring the events with them.

To alleviate parking problems, Levin said he will look into a student-funded shuttle program to take them from local apartment complexes to campus.

The program would be similar to the Hillcrest Medical Center shuttle program and would be cheaper and more convenient than parking on campus. While we doubt that such a program is practical, Levin said he would be open to any suggestion that others might have.

We believe that Levin is on the right track in terms of identifying student problems. We think that he would do a good job improving our school spirit, but his scope is too narrow and his experience does not match up to that of Jeff Dodge or Ali Yazdi.

Jennifer Ganata

Jennifer Christine Villanueva Ganata has good intentions but lacks the knowledge and experience to be an effective president.

As a member of several Student Affirmative Action Coalition organizations, one of Ganata’s main goals would be to increase diversity on campus and on the A.S. Council. While this is a concept supported by the Guardian, as well as by many students, Ganata does not have a specific plan to accomplish this goal.

Ganata worked with the A.S. Council in last year’s voter registration drive. She also worked with the United States Student Association and the Student Initiated Outreach and Retention Committee.

Ganata believes that A.S. Council members should be more active on campus and should not see themselves as being above anyone. She wants to make sure that nonwhite male and non-Greek students are represented, rather than marginalized, on this campus.

If elected president, Ganata said she would like to increase funding for student organizations. Yet when asked where she would find the additional funds, she said she would look to the chancellor’s and student affairs departments’ budgets. While it would be nice to have such a source for additional student funds, student organization money can come only from student activity fees, not from taxpayers or education fees.

An A.S. Council president needs to have a better knowledge of how the council works. For this reason, we do not endorse Ganata.

John Bwarie

John Bwarie is a highly energetic and enthusiastic student but is limited to A.S. experience on the college level. While he may be a good motivational speaker, he has no new ideas and no goals to implement.

As president, Bwarie said he would listen to his fellow council members and motivate them to implement their own ideas. He says that people currently view the office of president as something that it is not.

We believe that the presidency is an office that should be filled by a strong and knowledgeable leader. While any A.S. president needs to be open to new ideas and willing to work with fellow councilmembers, he must also have ideas, goals and plans of his own.

Bwarie, an individual studies major in his third year, currently coordinates Preuss School admissions and outreach. He designs and reviews applications, speaks at local schools and recruits UCSD students to serve as volunteers and tutors at the Preuss School. Bwarie has also served as an apprentice eighth-grade teacher in Mira Mesa.

While his resume is impressive, we do not believe that it qualifies him to be A.S. president.

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