It Takes Two, Baby: Daniel Watts

    Daniel Watts is known for being ambitious. In 2003, the Earl Warren College senior ran in the California recall election against political heavyweights Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante. Last year, he ran for A.S. president on the grandiose platform that he would bring a second Sun God Festival to UCSD.

    This year, Watts has thrown his hat back into the presidential ring, but his campaign strategy could not have changed more. Instead of another Sun God, Watts has something different to offer students: simple reforms.

    “There are so many problems with our student government right now that can be fixed so easily,” Watts said. “I’m concentrating on things I know I can get done that won’t cost a lot of money.”

    Watts’ campaign comprises three major pledges, the first of which is to eliminate the barriers that student organizations face when they try to host events on campus. He wants to end the current system in which the A.S. Council allocates money to the college councils, which then distribute it to student organizations. Watts asserts that his system, in which the A.S. Council distributes all of the money to the organizations itself, is more efficient.

    “It’s absurd all the time that’s spent going to all the college councils to raise money,” he said. “We’re going to cut all the red tape to make it incredibly easy to hold events on campus.”

    The second pledge of the Watts campaign is to phase out A.S. senators from individual colleges and replace them with senators elected campuswide. He cited the upcoming A.S. election as an example of the flaws in the current system, noting that the three students running for the three John Muir College senatorial seats might not represent their respective classes, but will be automatically elected anyway. Watts plans to market his proposal as a “common-sense” plan which will consolidate campus politics.

    His third pledge is to amend the A.S. Constitution to include a students’ bill of rights modeled after that in the federal Constitution. The bill of rights will include amendments to protect free speech, equal protection and the right of campus religious organizations to receive A.S. funding, which Watts said is being threatened by the University of California.

    A.S. Vice President of Academic Affairs Harry Khanna, the only other candidate for president, criticized Watts’ proposals as hollow “feel-good” pandering to the voters.

    “He has no concrete ideas on how to do them or what the implications are,” Khanna said. “A students’ bill of rights won’t do anything to stop the administration. It has no substance to it.”

    With the support of his slate, Tritons United!, Watts vowed he will accomplish most of his campaign goals within the first five weeks of taking office. These five weeks are his only window of opportunity, he said, because after that council members become unproductive “A.S. robots.”

    Watts is probably best known for his role in the Student-Run Television shutdown. It was the unscheduled broadcast of Watts’ interview with amateur pornographer Steve York that prompted officials to initially shut down the station last year, citing A.S. resolutions that banned York and pornography from SRTV. Later, Watts, among others, gathered signatures for a special election in which a slim majority of students voted to overturn the regulations.

    “A.S. should not be in the business of deciding what can or cannot be shown on SRTV,” Watts said. “The administration is gradually ceding ground, and eventually the station will be back.”

    In recent weeks, Watts has made disputed assertions that his efforts contributed to the administration’s decision to restore funding for Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services, a student-run tutoring program. As president, he plans to supplement O.A.S.I.S. with a new A.S. service modeled after the Warren College Writing Center, which will provide academic aid to students and internship credit to tutors.

    Watts had harsh criticisms for his opponent regarding the A.S. Council’s decision to grant more travel funding to Khanna’s fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, than is normally allowed under A.S. rules through a technicality.

    “Will he represent the students or will he represent his frat?” Watts said. “That’s a question students have to ask themselves.”

    Khanna objected to Watts’ conclusions on his relation to a fraternity.

    “Watts has taken the issue and completely distorted it in a way that makes him look good and the entire Greek system look bad,” Khanna said of the additional funding. “I spoke out against it. Of course I’m going to represent the students.”

    Khanna denounced this attack as another one of Watts’ political tactics. Watts has also tried to get a second person named Harry Khanna on the presidential ballot to confuse the voters, Khanna said.

    “I can list eight things Watts has done in the last two weeks that violated the rules of the election,” Khanna said. “This guy will do anything and say anything to get elected.”

    The outcome of next week’s election has major implications for Watts’ future. If he wins, he will hold office in his sixth year at UCSD and graduate in June 2007. If he loses, he said he will graduate at the end of this quarter.

    “It’s so frustrating for five years to see no one fix these things,” Watts said. “I want to leave this school in good hands.”

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