Last week, the UCSD Guardian editorial board interviewed individuals running for positions with A.S. Council. The editorial board consists of our editor-in-chief, managing, news, opinion, and features editors. Below are our endorsements for each position. We reached these decisions through our interviewing process, research into their past actions and experiences, candidate’s official and slate statements, and attending the A.S. debates Monday night via Zoom. These endorsements were made on an individual basis, and not in accordance with any particular slate. This being said, we did take into account larger slate goals when we felt they were inextricable from an individual’s position.
All of our interviews with candidates are available on Youtube for your convenience and personal reference.
As an editorial board, we chose to not endorse either candidate for A.S. President for the following reasons:
Running on a platform of deconstructing the bureaucratic status-quo, Patrick Miencharoen wants to make A.S. Council more transparent, accessible to the student body, and reduce and reallocate the budget. Nevertheless, the editorial board takes great issue with the goal to merge the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with the Office of Environmental Justice Affairs, as his Forward! slate stated on Reddit and defended during Monday’s debate. We at the Guardian believe both offices have significant and separate responsibilities that are indispensable to the UC San Diego community. We appreciate his goals and acknowledge that A.S. Council has been out of reach to students and self-enclosed to their hierarchical structure, but we cannot overlook his slate’s plans to merge the aforementioned offices, eliminating their individual power and roles. Additionally, we are concerned that Miencharoen’s plan to dramatically rework the A.S. constitution amidst our tumultuous times will lead to increased internal instability during a time when students need support. Miencharoen’s radical yet pragmatic approach to restructuring and adding transparency to A.S. Council are indicators that he will make substantive change in the governing body, but it will unfortunately come at the expense of crucial offices and A.S. Council efficiency. Given this, the editorial board does not feel confident that Miencharoen is fit to serve as A.S. President.
Although Kimberley Giangtran is well-spoken and experienced, we as the editorial board cannot in good conscience endorse her given past allegations of abuse of power; it is a poor reflection of how she would behave as A.S. President. Her campaign initiatives regarding outreach, inclusion, tuition, and sustainability are powerful reminders of the problems the university still faces, however, most of these have previously been discussed to no avail in prior elections. The board does appreciate her policy in responding to COVID-19 and creating a designated task force to address global emergencies. Nevertheless, Giangtran comes from a long line of career senators who make ambitious and appealing promises, but fail to live up to expectations. Her lofty, five-platform campaign is unfortunately too broad for her to reasonably accomplish in one year, and we believe that Giangtran would be able to achieve more if she narrowed her focus. Giangtran may be a qualified candidate, but she lacks a specific enough vision to actually make structural change in A.S. Council to best support the students. Giangtran represents the continuation of business-as-usual, which, in the editorial board’s perspective, is no longer viable.
Vice President of Campus Affairs
As an editorial board, we do not feel confident enough in either candidate to give an endorsement for the Vice President of Campus Affairs position.
We admire Sam Fleet’s goal to create systemic change within A.S. Council, and admire his candor for being an outsider. That said, Fleet lacks concrete policy proposals which would otherwise show how he would achieve some of his more lofty goals like increasing transparency or enacting a referendum to overhaul the current A.S. Council constitution. We appreciate Fleet’s emphasizing the need for A.S Council to connect with students remotely via online platforms in the debate Monday night. However, in his interview with the Guardian he heavily centered around social and cultural events, which will not be as much of a priority this academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, during the debate, Fleet’s explanation on why the Office of EDI and the Office of Environmental Justice Affairs should be combined was insufficient, and would negatively affect the minority students served by both of these offices.
Hannah Kreitman brings a great deal to the table with prior experience as Advocate General, which she referenced in her interview, to explain how she would enact change through the existing A.S. Council structures. Likewise, Kreitman demonstrated strength during her interview, and during the debate, when she emphasized the importance of maintaining the separation of certain A.S. Council offices which serve different marginalized communities. However, we cannot overlook the allegations of two former A.S. senators who stated that Kreitman allegedly attempted to abuse her former position ahead of the current election. Additionally, Kreitman’s slate BOLD has been criticized by the student body for their use of candidate funds to pay for celebrity endorsement videos. Kreitman did address her slate’s spending in the Monday night debate, acknowledging her slate experienced an error of judgement and explaining that their intention was to improve student awareness of the elections. Ultimately, though, given Kreitman’s leadership in BOLD, we find her slate’s campaign spending choices to reflect poorly on her ability to utilize student funds in a manner beneficial to the student body within the capacity of VPCA.
Vice President of External Affairs
After deep discussion, we are endorsing Harry (An) Huang for Vice President of External Affairs. We admire Huang’s proven commitment to increasing accountability. For example, as an Arts and Humanities Senator, Huang put forward measures to provide out-of-state and international students with better representation in the Senate. While Huang was criticized in the debate for not providing substantial enough change on behalf of arts and humanities students, the editorial board feels that Huang behaved in a manner that showed consistent dedication to making arts and humanities students feel represented. Huang also demonstrated extensive experience negotiating with others to pass policies. We also resonate with Huang’s desire to increase transparency and accessibility within the External Office to students outside of A.S. Council. In our interview, Huang demonstrated an advanced ability to explain A.S. Council proceedings and the workings of the VPEA office. We believe Huang’s skills will best ensure increased transparency in, and non-A.S Council student utilization of, the External Office. Finally, the Guardian appreciates Huang’s concrete plans to increase diversity in the External Office. With cogent plans, proven leadership abilities, and a strong desire to serve, the editorial board feels Huang will create real, lasting, and positive change in the Office of External Affairs.
Tommy Jung: The editorial board endorses Tommy Jung because we admire his focus on improving the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, and dedication to upholding Title IX policies. In our interview, Jung emphasized the OPHD’s lack of public statistics and spoke of increasing the office’s transparency if elected. This desire for transparency was a consistent theme of his platform, which highlighted the importance of holding campus offices accountable for clearly communicating with students. Combined with his experiences as an orientation leader and working with first year and transfer students, the editorial board ultimately feels that Jung has a concrete, focused platform with a strong idea of how to work toward these goals.
James Callahan: The editorial board endorses James Callahan as we felt his plans to redirect money from A.S. to services that directly help students, predominantly the Triton Food Pantry, will be imperative in the upcoming academic year. This idea speaks to his larger goals of changing the way A.S. currently operates and improving student culture within UCSD. It should be noted, however, that the editorial board does not agree with the language the Forward! platform uses to discuss the pantry on their Facebook page, specifically referencing “bringing it into the 21st century.” We feel that this language, while indicating a desire to help the food pantry, neglects the reality that the UCSD pantry is a revolutionary model for colleges across the country wanting to start their own pantries. The editorial board’s endorsement of Callahan is for him as an individual, not a reflection of support for the larger Forward! platform’s language.
Angel Quiora: The editorial board endorses Angel Quiora for his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We admire his plan to empower resource centers by pushing for better distribution of resources and education on what they offer. In addition, his view of UCSD as one university, as opposed to one made up of several colleges, reinforces the idea of broader campus unity instead of separation. Both of these campaign focuses are just narrow enough to be properly addressed during a year-long term, and we admire his dedication to a few specific areas instead of redistributing his energy to give mediocre focus to several areas. His plans will be necessary to improve a post-COVID return to campus and we are confident that he will do his best to improve the campus experience for all students.
The editorial board endorses Chitra Kulkarni for the position of off-campus senator for her commitment to providing students with legal information. Due to the current pandemic causing insecurities with housing and daily life, the editorial board feels that it is more important now than ever that students living off-campus are aware of their legal rights. In addition, Kulkarni, as president of UCSD mock trial, possesses the knowledge and local connections that will allow her to assist students living off-campus. Moreover, Kulkarni’s desire to spread awareness for off-campus legal struggles through fairs and information sessions leads the editorial board to believe that Kulkarni will be able to fulfill the duties of off-campus senator well and innovatively.
Arts & Humanities Senator
The editorial board endorses Deena Gharibian because she provides a fresh perspective to student government while having had prior experience related to the functionings of a democratic organization. Gharibian serves on the executive board for UCSD Mock Trial, and has the goal of increasing access to resources for those who are not science, technology, engineering, and math majors. We found Gharibian’s lack of formal A.S. Council experience to be an asset to her campaign, as she expresses a desire to represent non-STEM students like herself rather than the traditional politically-inclined senator. We also found her idea to expand non-STEM major and minor offerings to be a worthwhile cause that would be a benefit to the community as a whole.
Biological Sciences Senator
The editorial board endorses Mihir Pandya because we appreciated how he addressed the specific concerns of students in the biological sciences department in his interview with the Guardian. For example, he talked about wanting to join the course services and materials committee in order to reduce course material costs for laboratory classes required not only for students in the biological sciences department but also others. His experience in A.S. Council as a Senator and in Revelle College Council supported the editorial board’s belief that he could be a strong voice for the students of the biological sciences department, as he stated in his interview.
Physical Sciences Senator
As an editorial board, we choose to not endorse a candidate for this position. Isabella Ying is running unopposed for Physical Sciences Senator. Based on her candidate statement and bio on her slate’s website, Isabella wants to address long waitlists for core Physical Sciences classes and increase opportunities for career development. However, Ying offers no concrete policy proposals to achieve these goals. As an editorial board, we would have liked to see innovative approaches to these problems, which have been ongoing, rather than a continuation of alumni mixers which for the most part already exist in some capacity.
Social Sciences Senator
The editorial board endorses Jamila Francisco because of her focus on improving a sense of community within social sciences majors. Francisco has a personal perspective into this issue as a social sciences major, and will offer a new perspective into A.S Council. We also believe Francisco’s plans to host networking events and career fairs will provide valuable opportunities for non-STEM students, as most career resources on campus have been directed toward STEM majors. The editorial board feels Francisco’s plans will allow for a greater sense of community and increase in resources for social sciences majors.
Art by Allyson Llacuna for the UCSD Guardian.