Trash All Allegiances — The Work Starts Now

Sarah Arakaki/Guardian

It appears not even a race war nor Bill of Rights battle can permeate UCSD’s ever-victorious air of apathy. This A.S. election season, voter turnout dropped a few percentage points compared to last year despite a supersized candidate pool and what seemed to be a brief spike in interest in campus politics.

Once again, Students for Affirmative Action Committee members — who officially endorsed Students First presidential candidate Wafa Ben Hassine — proved more powerful than the disinterested majority (who will ironically complain all year about how the Sun God lineup sucks and how UCSD is socially dead, despite having neglected their five-minute opportunity to have a say).

At the same time, in the face of recent unpopularity, current president and 2010-11 candidate Utsav Gupta proved that a killer campaign can almost topple the SAAC trend, along with the fact that he is the single best campaigner in the universe. (Sarah Palin best come knocking if she has any intention of bagging the U.S. presidency in 2012).

What A.S. President-elect Ben Hassine can learn from her fellow candidates is that, in addition to her promises to lessen our carbon footprint and diversify our student population, she has been elected to represent the interests of all constituents. Just as importantly, she has been elected to throw a yearlong $3 million party to help us forget we’re wasting precious youth working our asses off at a failing institution.

But if Ben Hassine only fulfills one responsibility this year, she should play the role of mediator to what is destined to be a feisty forum. No future president will ever get as much done as Gupta — he’s superhuman when it comes to the grindstone. The only way Ben Hassine can achieve similar levels of productivity is to unite councilmembers so they can get shit done together.

As usual, campuswide senators are sure to clash: Inexperienced firecrackers like Deyna Roberson will be sitting next to seasoned strategists like Zoe Seher and Victor Flores. The cabinet is similarly loaded for crossfire, with odd-woman-out NOW! cheerleader Kristina Pham alongside Tritons First candidates Andrew Ang and Michael Lam.

Pham will probably run a similar term as current Vice President of Student Life Ricsie Hernandez — hands-off and Concerts & Events-focused — and Lam is likely to drift from the council like this year’s Vice President of External Affairs Gracelynne West. Vice President of Finance and Resources-elect Ang has proven either too headstrong (while ignoring sound advice) or malleable to whoever scares him most (first, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Gary Ratcliff, second, the Koala).

Speaking of the Koala, Ben Hassine is destined to become a target. Though she maintained a rational stance during Gupta’s student-media funding freeze in February (if boycotting important committee meetings can be considered rational), she harbors an exceptional hatred of the controversial paper. A heat-of-the-moment, Gupta-esque reaction to kill the Koala wouldn’t be uncharacteristic. Ben Hassine would be wiser to direct the council toward more constructive efforts to battle racial insensitivity.

Another top priority this year will be training student representatives on campuswide committees to inform themselves on the topics at hand and report back to council regularly. Ben Hassine, herself, has had problems on such committees — mainly with attendance and not getting the word out fast enough to rouse a student army. One more sure path to empowering students from the ground up would be to follow the campaign promises of presidential candidates John Condello and Tan Dhillon, who advocated the publicizing of student rights and a system to keep RSOs in check.

But, like we said, priority No. 1 for councilmembers is tossing aside campaign paraphernalia and finding common ground. With a council as divided as Gupta’s and a president without his singlehanded ability to lift projects off the ground, next year’s A.S. hamsters will have no chance of finding their way off the wheel.

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