Hail to the Chief

Ryan O’Rear — Tritons First

A Newport Beach native with a politician’s winning smile, Ryan O’Rear might seem a more natural fit for an “O.C.” bit part than the fourth floor of Price Center East. Looks, however, can be deceiving: O’Rear’s an old hand on council, having already served two years as Muir College senator with current running mate Lynne Swerhone.

O’Rear’s hasn’t necessarily been the loudest voice on the council floor the past two years, but he has made an effort to reach out to constituents from the ground up. With Swerhone, he hosted a weekly radio show called “Muirworld” on KSDT, which served to inform listeners (mostly his and Swerhone’s friends, O’Rear admits, though he says he’s grateful for their devotion all the same) of current topics of debate.

Only around 30 listeners typically tuned in to the program, but working with KSDT and meeting his fellow DJs connected O’Rear to a corner of campus that might not otherwise have been very in touch with the type-A decision makers hiding up in PC East. That kind of base-level outreach exemplifies O’Rear’s goals for next year — aims that all come back to engendering pride in our campus.

“I want students to remember their four or five years at UCSD not as, ‘oh, I went to UCSD when fees were increased by 50 percent,’” O’Rear said. ”I want students to be able to come back and donate with a sense of pride … I want alumni to come back and support the UCSD students of the future.”

As president, the Tritons First candidate would also hope to get more in touch with the students themselves — though he certainly knows better than to expect anyone to march to the fourth floor during office hours. Instead, O’Rear hopes to have lunch at Price Center with a different student every day — a proposal that could, granted, provide for more onion rings and orange chicken than one stomach should ever handle, but all in the righteous name of keeping the council’s ear to the ground.

The Muir College junior is strongly in favor of making the leap to DIV-I sports, though he also feels it’s paramount to put the idea to a student vote. O’Rear says that kind of consideration has played out in his past two terms: he’s always made an effort to cast his vote with those he represents chief in mind.

“When I’m voting, I don’t always maybe personally agree with the votes that I cast, but I know that if my constituents do, if the people I’m representing do, I can rest easily,” O’Rear said.

Outside his dedication to Muir, O’Rear’s also an active member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, and served as the fraternity’s treasurer during his freshman year.

While O’Rear’s experience in fraternity leadership has been colored by an admittedly more lax environment than the fourth floor, collecting quarterly membership dues from some of his best friends has certainly informed his leadership style.

“[As president,] I wouldn’t be trying to make everyone be my best friend, but it’s working with everyone on a level where you respect everyone outside of A.S.,” O’Rear said. “It’s working with them on a personal level to make sure that everything goes through as smoothly as possible.”

Making everybody happy, in the end, is the name of O’Rear’s game. Whether this week’s election works out in his favor or not, the spring climate should encourage some of his favorite pastimes. O’Rear’s a seasoned volleyball player, and — a So Cal boy through and through — is seldom more content than when he’s at the beach.

— Trevor Cox, Managing Editor

Alyssa Wing —
Board the Wing

Anyone looking at the extracurricular activities of Warren College junior Alyssa Wing might just see a pattern.

She’s served on Warren College Student Council since her freshman year, and is currently president of the 60-strong organization that saw the college snag the Spirit Night title this year. She sat through six-hour A.S. Council last year as Warren Senator, working on issues of visibility and occasionally being shouted at by both the public and her fellow student leader hot heads. And on the side, she’s had stints as Warren orientation leader, Warren Ambassador, Warren Briefs columnist, Warren student orientation and represented the face of Warren at student events.

Needless to say, Wing breathes Warren College and school spirit and now —  as the titular member of second-year slate Board the Wing — she wants to take that straight to the top.

“Warren is my home base,” she said. “But, having worked on A.S., I know the potential it has to  be better. I haven’t seen it be capitalized, seen A.S. be built from year to year and I want to take it in a new direction with a new spirit.”

Spirit is the catchword here; Wing’s track record is based on student life, particularly supporting athletics, whether through working with Triton Tide, creating peppy banners or bullying councilmembers into attending sports games. Now, with D-I up in the air, she’s a staunch supporter of a move she says should be seen as an investment.

“I absolutely support the move to D-I and, more important, as a student, I support athletics,” she said. “I support what athletics provides; it’s allowed me to find a connection and unifying pride, and I think this move could really bolster spirt and pride.”

And like every candidate, she’s interested in updating the students about their famously “inaccessible” student leaders. She want to reform council from the inside out with new committees to increase consistency in council’s rules, as well as institute an A.S. table on Library Walk and work with Triton Television and taking on social media interns to provide a live feed of the Wednesday night meetings.

“Students complain about how A.S. could be enforcing rules for one organization but not another, so there needs to be someone to ensure that our councilmembers are updating our own rules,” she said.

This year, as a non-voting member of council, she’s taken those first steps by attending nearly every meeting and researching a student-fee referendum from 30 years ago that sets money aside for college councils — a referendum she says council has been violating.

All of these synthesizes with Wing’s self-declared love of people. As a first-generation college student from Rancho Santa Margarita, Wing said her background created her drive to succeed and that meant the “very pre-business” student entered UCSD as an economics major.

But two quarters in, she realized that she didn’t want to continue and, on a friend’s suggestion, took a communications class instead.

“After that first one, I realized I was really drawn to the study of people, to work with people, to think about the most basic aspects of people, whether that’s speech or dress — it was more in tune with me, writing was better than math, and I later added sociology as a double major,” she said.

It’s this emphasis on people that has made Wing so eager to reach out, and made her rank winning Spirit Night this year as one of her all-time highlights.

“I remember my freshman year we didn’t even have Spirit night, and to go to what we have, it’s a testament to our students,  what we’re capable of together and what I want to continue,” she said.

— Angela Chen, Editor in Chief

Jasmine Philips —
Students First

Jasmine Phillips might just be the woman to help A.S. Council turn a new leaf. The Sixth College senior wants to make the office on the fourth floor of Price Center a place for all students and engage a wider share of the student population — and if she could do so while locking down Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu or Trey Songz for Sun God, all the better.

Like most of us, Phillips spent a while bouncing around various academic interests: the one-time psychology major and classical studies minor entered UCSD with dreams of studying abroad in Greece or Italy, though shifting interests and extensive on-campus involvement put the brakes on those plans. Phillips dabbled in political science before switching course to critical gender studies and sociology, with a minor in human rights. These areas of study have tested her well beyond finals week.

“When you start looking at how everything is constructed, it makes it hard for you to watch a commercial, watch a TV show, listen to Lil’ Wayne … so that’s always something I challenge myself with,” Phillips said. “I own my contradictions, and I try not to judge anyone else in their process.”

Phillips said her education has also informed her leadership style. Critical gender studies (CGS) courses, in particular, have pushed her to question how success is realized and how leadership is performed, which Phillips said carries over to the Students First slate: The candidates comprise not so much a top-to-bottom hierarchy as a collective of hopeful leaders whose opinions hold equal weight. In presenting the Students First platform to campus organizations, Phillips said, it’s never assumed that she’ll be the one to dominate discussion; any and all candidates are welcome to step up and take center stage.

Her fields of choice have also shaped Phillips’ vision of her future.

“If anything, CGS has enabled me to look at how I don’t necessarily have to be an ‘ultra career woman’ to be a feminist — it’s just repeating a system,” Phillips said.

Whether she fits the suit-sporting feminist archetype or not, Phillips still boasts an impressive campus resume — one that spans an array of everything from college council to Students for Affirmative Action Committee (SAAC). The Long Beach native has served as a SAAC rep on both the Black Student Union and Sixth College Council, and currently interns on campus at the Cross Cultural Center (CCC), where she serves as affiliates and outreach coordinator.

This year, Phillips went above and beyond her intern responsibilities to organize January’s Kiamsha Community Conference for the CCC. Kiamsha — which translates from Swahili as “that which awakens me” — focused on empowering student leaders of color through the importance of self-care. That lesson is one that, ironically, Phillips could probably take closer to heart herself: working an average of 30-40 hours per week between the CCC and campus box office while managing a double major doesn’t always leave much time for scrupulous self-maintenance, let alone a full night’s sleep.

The hard work is bound to pay off: a first-generation college student, Phillips plans to pursue law school after graduation. In the meantime, her involvement on campus and the rigor of her coursework — which demands far more than mindless essay writing or an endless game of memorization — keep the student leader plenty occupied.

“In a class where you’re talking about how you can’t fundamentalize everything, it’s hard to provide a solution,” Phillips said. “There’s no right answer — that’s always a challenge.”

— Trevor Cox, Managing Editor

Parminder Sandhu —
We Are Tritons

Parminder Sandhu is an everyman’s candidate — most of the third year’s Facebook statuses are alerts about free food available somewhere on campus.

Back in his second year, Sandhu applied this “one for all” attitude to his new position as Advocate General on A.S. council, charged with impeaching members that had too many absences. As Advocate General, Sandhu, who tried to impeach then-President Elect Wafa Ben Hassine, was all about fairness.

“I’m like the guy in Green Eggs and Ham,” Sandhu said at an April 2010 A.S. Council meeting. “I will talk about impeachments with you on a boat, on a house, on the sea.”

Now, as a Sixth College senator, Sandhu is still a stickler for the rules.  Throughout the year, his main focuses have been improving life for Sixth College transfers, working on an Indian cultural celebration (set to occur sometime this quarter) and the Sixth College student parking controversy.

“A lot of what students complain to me about, more than anything, are the parking spots being removed from Sixth College,” Sandhu said. “Basically, it’s a safety concern because it’s forcing students to park near the baseball fields and it’s a long walk with no lighting. It’s really a safety issue.”

In between working to meet with administration on parking issues, studying for a double degree in bionengineering and political science and participating in organizations like Relay for Life, Sandhu has been working on his slate’s platform, hammering out the main issues they plan on targeting next year — if they win. His slate, WE ARE TRITONS (which he founded) also mirrors the candidate’s goals by bringing together a mix of campus representatives from a wide variety of organizations and colleges — including students from A.S. Council, Greek life and club athletes.

“I wanted to create as much of a microcosm of UCSD as possible,” Sandhu said. “People with  different viewpoints, with different majors, from different student orgs, with goals like improving education and building a sense of community and improving transportation on campus.”

WE ARE TRITONS also presents a focus on student education.

“With all the budget cuts, we’ve already closed the medical library and are projected to close CLICS and some other libraries,” Sandhu said. “These are hard facts that we have to deal with.  We have to work with the administration to make sure the core educational and student experience isn’t compromised. These cuts need to be made with more of a student perspective in mind, rather than a budgetary one.”

Like his political role model, Barack Obama, Sandhu wasn’t expecting to run for the presidential seat when he first started in government, though he’s been working hard towards his goal since making the decision this past winter. And though Sandhu describes President Obama as a “very inspirational person,” Sandhu’s biggest motivator is a little closer to home.

“In middle school, my mom was hit by a drunk driver and she was paralyzed from the waist down,” Sandhu said. “That made me want to get more involved in my community and really make a positive change. Though it happened a while ago, it still inspires me to do good in the world and do the best I can in everything I do.”

And while A.S. Council is known for incessant bickering, the presidential hopeful isn’t worried about council divisions.

“We should be in the business of improving the student life experience on campus,” Sandhu said.  “As long as we understand that we’re in the business of improving student life, we can disagree on some aspects while coming together on others.”

— Neda Salamat, Focus Editor

John Tran —
Flush the John

For all the other candidates’ talk about transparency, it’s Warren College junior John Tran — the sole contender without prior council experience — that has the simplest plan for improving student life. He wants to bring puppies, Muse and the cast of “Glee” to UCSD. (And not a whole lot else.)

Tran, who’s double majoring in history and communications, may not have any political experience, but he’s also no stranger to student involvement. He’s been keeping busy since his sophomore year, when he joined Programming at Warren and helped plan events and allocate funds for Warren College students.

Since then, Tran’s also played an active role in the Inter-College Residents Association, for which he serves as the Vice President of Public Relations.

Even more recently, he’s joined UCSD Cares, an organization that works to raise money for and recognize other philanthropic UCSD organizations.

“He’s very committed to what he does,” said Warren College junior Tyler Nelson, who’s running for Vice President of External Affairs on Tran’s slate. “He’s not so strong-headed to do only what he wants to do. He’s not going to shut anyone down. He’s a very amiable guy.”

Tran and Nelson want to keep the focus on students. Their campaign has been centered on the simple focus of the Flush the John vision: creating a better Sun God.

“We just came together and we basically wanted to start off simple,” Tran said. “Make a better Sun God, bring the ‘Glee’ cast, bring Muse. It’s definitely grown into something. We want to see if we can change A.S. from the inside.”

While he hasn’t been to any A.S. Council meetings, Tran said he’s been doing his research, and has a pretty keen idea of what he wants changed.

First, he’s hoping to get rid of A.S. resolutions — statements that go before a council vote and are said to define UCSD’s stance on a campus or political issue.

“Some of the resolutions in the past have been really unfair,” Tran said. “They don’t represent all UCSD students. I’ve been going to the A.S. website and looking over things, and I was against the resolutions when I read about them in the Guardian. I thought, ‘Why are they staying up until 4 a.m. discussing these things?’”

Tran says his main focus would be on the students, and wants council to reduce funding for conferences and councilmember stipends, instead funneling those resources toward events benefitting student life, such as pancake breakfasts and — one of the chief tenets of Tran’s campaign — more puppies.

“We think puppies are big stress relievers,” Tran said. “We know a lot of UCSD students are stressed as it is. More puppies on campus will make them a lot happier.”

Tran’s lack of experience may make him the object of criticism from naysayers, but he’s prepared to take the heat.

“Most people in UCSD aren’t familiar with what A.S. does, either,” Tran said. “I would represent those people. I feel like not everyone has a voice in A.S. Most of them really don’t care what A.S. does. If we give students what they want, that makes a happier campus.”

And, for Tran, it’s all in the name. “Flush the John” reflects the light-heartedness Tran hopes to bring to council.

“I’m kind of a comic relief,” he said. “I think that A.S. needs to lighten up a little. They’re kind of serious — that doesn’t make it fun.”

— Mina Nilchian, Staff Writer

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