Election Slates Will Align for Student Empowerment

It is my pleasure and honor to have been chosen by the student body to be qualified enough to represent them. I would not be in this position had it not been for the overwhelming support that the Students First slate and I had been receiving all along. Needless to say, Friday night was an immensely humbling experience.

However, getting elected into office is not an accomplishment. Campaigning only means so much until the year is over and the students can check off all the changes the Students First slate promised to make. I will be more than happy to accept an accomplished status upon exiting office with a record that fulfills our slate’s promises.

Friday night, Tritons First swept the elections, taking most of the senatorial seats and two out of the three vice presidential positions. Contrary to what some may think, I believe that the goals of both Tritons First and Students First align. Together, we are a group of committed individuals who are looking to make paying college dues easier, cut waste from the annual budget, promote environmental sustainability, ensure student safety and enhance student life to make it more exciting.

Throughout my campaign, I spoke a lot about institutionalizing activism in the UCSD community and within the Associated Students. This activism entails several aspects.

First, I want to see the A.S. Council make more informed funding decisions, spend money in a sustainable manner and revise the budget to cut waste. I will be chartering a committee soon that will be responsible for doing this. This committee will then present to council a couple of weeks before we pass the budget, allowing for any changes to be made after hearing their recommendations. I will also be working very closely with my friend and colleague Andrew Ang — vice president of finance and resources elect — to carry out said reforms.

Second, as president, I want to ensure that our A.S. Council is committed to seeing a more environmentally sustainable campus. We need to focus on furthering our sustainability efforts, and this can be done in a myriad of ways. Styrofoam in Price Center, the sale of bottled water and the lack of bike lanes on this campus are but a few of our school’s environmentally unsound characteristics.

Of course, the initiating step to repair said issues is voting in a position for associate vice president of sustainability. This position would be a working liaison between the Student Sustainability Collective and the A.S. Council. The AVP would also conduct a yearly audit of A.S. sustainability efforts and provide weekly written reports of campus sustainability efforts to council. The AVP sustainability’s responsibilities are also external: The AVP would advocate for environmental policies at municipal and state levels, when students are directly impacted by said policies.

Finally, with the students facing even steeper hikes in registration fees next year, it’s about time that the A.S. Council dedicates its energy to fighting the budget cuts. We are in a crisis of diversity, and — working with Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service — we have to fight for a more diverse student makeup through sustainable outreach to historically underrepresented communities.

We are also in a crisis of privatization. The California Master Plan for Higher Education’s promise of free public education has been ripped to shreds. Unified as a student body, we cannot stand up for that. We need an A.S. Council that is not afraid to get political and be biased for the students: We need to empower students of all backgrounds to shape our school’s future. Some of the most important happenings of this upcoming year are the California gubernatorial and midterm elections. I will work closely with the vice president of external affairs to bring each candidate to our campus and allow the students to be well-educated before casting ballots.

Besides attending all UC Board of Regents meetings, I would also like to have our council go on lobbying visits together. If finances permit, councilmembers will be expected to go on quarterly lobbying visits. Working with the vice president of student life, the trip can serve as a retreat and an opportunity for the A.S. Council to be better informed and, subsequently, put greater pressure on California legislators to reprioritize public education when passing the budget.

Above all, I am looking forward to a year of service and keeping the students’ interests at heart, both with local administration and external elected officials. Thank you, and I hope to serve you well.

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