2010-11 A.S. Council Endorsements

John Condello


• Acts as the student body’s official
representative, and chief executive officer of the A.S. Council

• $10,000 per year
• A-spot parking upgrade

He’s got the right ideas — and the popular support to make them happen.

The Guardian editorial board has been skeptical of a Condello candidacy ever since he tried to melt the student-media freeze with his bare hands last quarter.

After a series of tipsy committee meetings with campus-newspaper leaders that ballooned his head to epic proportions, that cocky son of a gun sauntered into the A.S. Council meeting with nothing to show for hours of “deliberation” (read: chair swivelation, ball bustation). It was an overconfidence that allowed Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch to come dangerously close to pushing a well-prepared, content-biased funding model through council.

Then there’s the fact that Condello has an absence record like a battlefield, two untouched senator projects and one of the hottest tempers in the room. Last Friday, he missed the presidential debates in Price Center Plaza, and has proven five times less likely to answer our phone calls than current A.S. President Utsav Gupta.

But do we really want Gupta answering our calls when all we can get out of him is the same old dodgy press release? What sets Condello apart from Gupta is that he wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s completely unscripted — often to a fault — but we’d rather know what our president is thinking than watch him whisper it among his office entourage.

Unlike the current president, Condello has his priorities straight. Sloppy and angry as his performance may have been, the Sixth College senator was one of the only councilmembers during the funding freeze to sacrifice his poker face for the absolute protection of student rights. Gupta and Benesch’s proposal would have given self-important A.S. kids the right to choose which newspapers could thrive on campus. Not only would that be a fucking snore, it would be downright unconstitutional.

In a way, it will break our hearts to see the current president go. Gupta is one of the hardest-working student politicians we’ve ever encountered on the council — even if he has estranged half his governing body and entered annoying legal battles like making the council into a 501(c)(3) organization and trying to shut down the Koala. Yeah, he would probably get a lot more paperwork done than Condello. But at this point, no affinity for gruntwork can make up for the skewed, isolated ideologies Gupta has revealed himself to hold over the last couple months.

Of the other candidates, no one beats Condello in consistency and likability. Tritons First frontman Brian McEuen says all the right things, but his goals are lackluster, his contributions are impossible to track and he makes us feel like we’re talking to a teleprompter. Students First figurehead Wafa Ben Hassine is a doer and a dreamer, but her devastating political correctness is off-putting to the average student, and her record of emotional investment in certain issues could make for toxic council relations.

Independent candidate Tan Dhillon also shows promise, but he could use a year on council to understand the hot mess he’d be dealing with, and his presidential swagger is in dire thirst of some Obamafication. As for independents August Brenner and Joseph Virgilio — hope you guys at least got laid on the “I’m a presidential candidate” pitch.

If this was high school, Condello would be the candidate with “cool kid” syndrome, but we think there’s just enough UCSD nerd in him to fuel the late-night Excel binges and student-org visits. He did completely change the direction of the shady nonaffiliate speech policy committee last year, and has proven he can wake up at 4 a.m. for crew practice. Plus, in the end, Condello knows the ultimate peacekeeper is a nice, cold beer. It’d be refreshing if the A.S. Council could finally earn a little cred with its constituency by doing what college students are supposed to do.

Most importantly, whether or not Condello hits the grindstone as hard as he says he will, at least he won’t do more harm. He’s far more cautious about the idea of a D-I football team, and won’t waste any more time trying to defund the Koala. Sorry, Gupta — it was good while it lasted.

Desiree Prevo

Vice President of Student Life

• Serves as interim A.S. president in event of office vacancy
• Appoints and dismisses councilmembers on A.S. committees

• $5,250 per year
• A-spot parking upgrade

She knows Student Life is about
more than event planning.

In the past, the vice president of student life might as well have been called the VP Sun God. Year after year, diversity and athletics have been thrown to the wayside by a bubble event planner who loves fliers, music and parties. If elected, Desiree Prevo, who’s running on the Students First slate, will change all that.

As a board member on the Black Student Union and a current A.S. campuswide senator, she played an instrumental role in drafting the BSU’s list of demands and sustaining resistance in the aftermath of Winter Quarter’s racist events. Her close ties with the Students for Affirmative Action Committee will ensure outreach and retention won’t be ignored in favor of a few annual concerts.

Prevo — a calm, rational thinker — also believes that defunding the Koala isn’t the answer to improving UCSD’s campus climate.

Incumbent VP Student Life Ricsie Hernandez has, to put it lightly, taken a hands-off leadership role this year — especially in ensuring AVP Concerts & Events Alex Bramwell didn’t completely ruin Sun God with another underwhelming lineup.

Prevo’s plan to have weekly check-ins and improve communication within her office may seem an easier-said-than-done response to the current lack of supervision, and it’s a bit concerning that she lacks a specific vision for what she’d like to see each of her three associates accomplish. But her greatest strength as a candidate lies not so much in her specific plans for the three sectors of Student Life — Diversity, Concerts & Events and Athletics — as in her demonstrated passion for reform. Her commitment to diversity is an especially strong indicator that she’d expand the office to become more than a sideline Sun God cheerleader.

It’s worth noting that Prevo’s opponent, Kristina Pham of the NOW! slate, has a host of awesome ideas — such as restoring afternoon concerts at Price Center in the week leading up to Sun God. But unlike Pham and Tritons First candidate Nicole Metildi, Prevo has already proven herself both a competent leader and an honest, sensible strategist — two qualities to value in a VP who promises to pump new life into those two neglected parts of Student Life.

Josh Grossman

Vice President of Finance and Resources

• Advises president and council on all fiscal issues
• Oversees activity-fee distribution

• $5,250 per year
• A-spot parking upgrade

He has concrete plans to reduce superfluous spending.

Our long-deliberated choice to endorse Josh Grossman for Vice President of Finance and Resources comes with quite a few reservations. His intention to use thinly veiled media-org funding rules to pursue the shutdown of the Koala, for example, demonstrates that he is just another sketchy Peter Benesch character.

Not only would such an endeavor be a waste of the VP Finance’s time and potentially cost the university a lot of money in legal battles, it’s also extremely divisive and harmful toward other media that might get caught in the crossfire. The convictions expressed in his interviews, furthermore, show that he is dangerously out of touch with student opinion.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that, if both Gupta and Grossman are elected, they will make the most toxic combination since vodka met Red Bull. Except instead of a lethal hangover, they would cause a divided council and a whole lot of wasted time and money.

But Grossman’s edge over competitor Andrew Ang is his fiscal responsibility. With student fees at an all-time high, reducing unnecessary spending within the council’s budget should be a top priority. Grossman has said he’ll scrutinize every item in the budget before it’s approved ,and is ready and willing to place limits and on A.S. spending — something Ang, having been burned for his non-content-neutral attempt earlier this year, is now too cautious to feel comfortable doing.

Given the likelihood that administrators try to dip into the A.S. funding pool next year, we need a VP who will hold his ground against outside interests. Ang seems to crumble to anybody’s will if it’s strong enough, while Grossman’s position in the A.S. committee to review the Transportation Referendum shows an ability to put in the research and resist administrative blackmailing.

As proposals like the Transportation Referendum have shown, we are going to need someone with concrete plans for the budget, and the backbone to stay the course — we just wish Grossman’s commendable financial policy didn’t come in such a potentially disastrous package. It’s going to be Grossman’s job to be a “watchdog of student fees” — not shut down the Koala. Hopefully he’ll learn early on to stick to his job description.

Facundo Ramos

Vice President of External Affairs

• Educates student body on issues affecting UCSD at city, state and national levels
• Lobbies officials and legislators on behalf of student body
• Serves as UC Student Association rep for UCSD

• $5,250 per year
• A-spot parking upgrade

His experience in the External
Affairs office ensures he’ll get things done in Sacramento.

It’s been a busy year for student activists. A massive tuition increase, a contentious debate over racial sensitivity and minority retention on campus, student-loan reform and an ongoing statewide dialogue about the controversial D.R.E.A.M. Act have meant a packed schedule for the A.S. Office of External Affairs.

Next year will no doubt prove just as critical for student mobilization as the last seven months. With that in mind, it’s clear the candidate most qualified to take the reigns of such efforts is Facundo Ramos.

Nearly three years of experience in the external office have given Ramos the knowledge, the background and the ideas necessary to head up a new year of student-led political activism.

He intends to reinvigorate efforts to directly engage with lawmakers, and has plans to join up with the United States Student Association and take his activism to the national stage — a much-needed step toward letting those who can make a difference hear what we have to say.

Under the mentorship of current Vice President of External Affairs Gracelynn West, Ramos has been schooled in the ways of effective organizing and dedication to the student cause.

Despite his qualifications, however, there are certain points of concern about Ramos. As the brother of immigrant rights activist Matias Ramos, he seems likely to focus the bulk of his efforts on mobilizing students in favor of the D.R.E.A.M. Act.

He should keep in mind that as an elected official, he will be responsible for representing all students — which means making tuition costs and increased state funding for the university a primary goal.

It wouldn’t hurt if also practiced his public-speaking skills. While his experience is invaluable, it could all be wasted if no one is listening.

Campuswide Senators

• Complete at least two
projects each year, one of which must benefit the entire campus
• Serve on at least two
campuswide committees
• Vote on the council floor

Jason Caffrey

UCSD’s tornado of student leaders — A.S. hotheads, SAAC activists, student-media diehards — often become so wrapped up in themselves that they forget to take into account the sentiments of the remaining 80 percent: the students who would rather their fees go toward stocking essential lab equipment than the Sun God lineup. Jason Caffrey will always err on the side of conserving the council’s $3 million, and funneling it back, wherever possible, into the academic experience.

More than your average Geisel geek, Caffrey also has a grasp on which documents he would need to present to which departments to make headway in cutting costs. Sure, he might stick out like a Ticonderoga in a room of bleeding ballpoints. But his cynicism — and indifference to luxuries like a D-I football team — is refreshing, and, unlike most average-Joe candidates before him, Caffrey has stumbled through enough droning A.S. minutes to know a referendum from a resolution from a First Amendment lawsuit.

Ruby Chua

Vague buzzwords like “outreach” and “diversity” have been choice vocabulary on the campaign trail this year. One of the few senatorial candidates to present a clear idea of how she’d actually pursue those grand ideals, though, Chua plans to encourage activism both on campus and in Sacramento. She’s passionate about fighting fee increases and pushing for the D.R.E.A.M. Act, which would make undocumented immigrant students eligible for financial aid.

They’re goals that are, granted, pretty lofty for a lowly senator with three short quarters to push an agenda. But unlike most of her opponents, Chua has experience lobbying the capital and has spent two years as an intern in the A.S. External Affairs office — which, along with a fleshed-out agenda, sets her apart from this year’s crop of inexperienced slate puppets.

Elizabeth Elman

Don’t let her cute little freckles fool you: As the most qualified campuswide senator candidate this spring, Elman means business. A superstar member of the Student Sustainability Collective, Elman is experienced in navigating administrative bureaucracy.

In other words, when she says she wants to make Sun God Festival more sustainable and encourage the use of public transportation next year, we believe she’s got the know-how and drive to make it happen.

She’s also well-informed about a slew of other issues sure to plague the council next year. She’s a tree-hugger who understands the importance of the California Democracy Act and doesn’t think students should foot the bill for the Loft or a football team when tuition is shooting through the roof. And, in regard to the media freeze, she said she wants to increase access to funds rather than add regulations. Right answer.

Now, if only she’d try and run this entire mess of a council.

Elizabeth Garcia

After the eye-opening racially charged events last quarter, it’s difficult to deny the importance of enacting some well-orchestrated efforts to educate our campus about cultural diversity.

Like many others in the Students First slate, Elizabeth Garcia has staked her candidacy on this hot issue. Though only a Muir College freshman — and a generally uninformed one at that — Garcia shows potential of becoming an effective leader for her cause.

Most of all, Garcia demonstrates the kind of eloquence necessary to ensure both cooperation between colleagues and a rational mindset in answering the controversial questions now facing the A.S. Council.

Seeing as she hasn’t even been here a year, it’s hard to predict whether Garcia will follow through. If she catches on quick, though, she has the potential to become one of the council’s most effective senators.

Michael Raimondi

A bubbly Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore with a Justin Bieber haircut, Michael Raimondi has chosen his senatorial goals wisely: He wants to help students understand how to navigate administrative roadblocks and partake in campus sustainability.

As an Econaut working with Housing, Dining and Hospitality Services, Raimondi’s administrative know-how has generated some refreshing proposals. He plans to educate students about RAs and petitioning classes, reduce superfluous A.S. printing and recruit more trash cans and student art. He may not have the strongest grasp on how to help failing enterprises like the Grove Cafe, but he knows that something needs to change — even if it’s something as simple as adding a more visible sign.

Denya Roberson

OK, we’ll admit Roberson isn’t very experienced when it comes to A.S. Council politics. But anyone who drops by a four-hour council meeting because she thinks it’s “interesting” would be an asset to our council. Plus, there’s something to be said for a senator as engaging and amiable as Roberson. She’s a BSU member with a talent for informing those who don’t understand; her welcoming personality and reasonable demeanor will help her reach out to a large variety of students and help them see why diversity should be a campus priority.

Being a longtime runner on the track team, she’s also valuable as a representative of the athlete’s perspective on council matters — which will hopefully result in more coordination with the Athletics Department.

Our only worry is that Roberson will be so busy studying for chemistry and jumping hurdles next year that she’ll let her senatorial obligations fall to the wayside. But considering her success in time management thus far, we’re betting she won’t let us down.

Zoe Seher

Every platform supports increasing the number of on-campus events, but Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore Zoe Seher’s intense involvement with the student-org system proves she has the skills and connections — not just the ideas — to get the job done.

Seher has structured plans for putting on cultural events and art fairs, thanks to her time at the Center for Student Involvement. Hopefully, she can even impart this know-how onto her more clueless peers. She wants to teach students about event finance and how to fill out paperwork; about how to rent space in Price Center for free, so there is more speech about controversial issues; about org delegation and retention. She wants to host more events on campus, and she actually knows how to do it. Imagine that.

Cody Marshall

Though generally inexperienced in the way of administrative bureaucracy, Marshall’s main appeal lies in his levelheaded approach to issues he’s passionate about: athletics and student outreach.

Unlike most pro-football councilmembers, Marshall has personally gauged student opinion on the subject, and constructed a solution that considers alternative funding. His opinion that the A.S. Council must find a way to defund the Koala may compromise free-speech ideals, but a dissenting opinion would still benefit discussions on the topic next year.

Though Marshall is most passionate about football, his well-played actions during the “Compton Cookout” fiasco impressed us most. While many sacrificed diplomacy for easy-to-shout slogans, Marshall kept communicating his viewpoints rationally in public forums and rallies, encouraging dialogue between upset and frustrated groups of students. His mature level of involvement will be an invaluable asset for the A.S. Council next year.

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