The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Leslie Vallejo-Avila wins runoff for student body presidency

Image Courtesy of ASUCSD

ASCEND presidential candidate Leslie Vallejo-Avila won last week’s A.S. Student Body government runoff elections, according to an A.S. announcement that occurred through a Zoom livestream at 5 p.m. on April 19. This is the slate’s 10th secured position in the 2024-25 A.S. Student Body.

A 7% voter turnout determined the results; only 2,247 individuals from a total 31,526 enrolled students casted a ballot. Vallejo-Avila gathered 52% of the vote, while opposing candidate Elizabeth G. Lopez claimed 40%. 

Vallejo-Avila’s campaign honed on two main areas — “Building Bridges” and “Investing in Students” — as per her candidate statement. Expanding on the former areas, her proposals were established in the statement as follows:

  • Organize events amongst different university departments bridging on-campus resources and student organizations to foster interdisciplinary connections for students.
  • Advocate for policies and programs that promote EDI across all aspects of campus life, including recruitment and retention efforts, curriculum development, and student support services.
  • Expand access to mental health and well-being services, including therapy to nurture student well-being. 
  • Ensure that student organizations have knowledge and access to funding and spaces for student conferences and opportunities to ascend the overall productivity of student efforts.
  • Provide support to Associate Vice-Presidents to prepare them for advocating for students through their niche offices.
  • Diversify avenues of communication to increase awareness and understanding between students and our A.S. [and] awareness of resources.

“I’m mainly excited to be able to advocate on behalf of basic needs, since that is a very on-demand resource here on campus and it is really underfunded,” Vallejo-Avila explained in a video released during run-off campaigning.

Vallejo-Avila elaborated on the importance of student engagement with A.S. and how increasing such will factor into her term.

“A lot of students are unaware of what A.S. does, the fact that we manage over 8 million dollars of fees,” she said in an interview with The UCSD Guardian. “I want to encourage everyone, [whether] they ran or [not], to continue being engaged and getting involved in A.S.”

The A.S. Presidential Debate, moderated by The UCSD Guardian Editor-In-Chief Raymond Tran and Design Editor Adalia Luo, and held on April 4, opened a discussion among the candidates and candidate-elect Vallejo-Avila regarding pre-selected topics from the A.S. Student Body. 

“Although [A.S.] funds [some] student organizations, there is still a gap of knowledge for organizations that do not access our funding that should be addressed,” Vallejo-Avila commented while reviewing ‘Financial Management and Student Funding.’ “Organizations should be able to ask for the extra funding. We could properly manage [new] avenues with student organizations.”

In terms of proposed strategies for raising additional revenue and student funding, the elected A.S. Executive Vice-President, Vanna Hoang, and her slate, C.O.R.G.I., proposed the reclassification of A.S. Student Body government as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contrary to the latter, Vallejo-Avila’s campaign favored the existing connections the Student Body government holds with the UCSD administration. 

Further discussing A.S. collaborations with student organizations, Vallejo-Avila expressed hope for mending A.S.’s relationship with UC San Diego’s Student Sustainability Collective.

“Acknowledging the fact that A.S.’s relationship with SSC hasn’t always been on good terms,” she said. “We saw this year that they had to remove themselves from the third floor [of Price Center]. Ensuring that they are aware we are here for them and they are here to us, while uplifting their mission for sustainability would be really great.”

Vallejo-Avila previously served as the Executive Vice-President for the 2023-24 A.S. Student Body Government. 

“To be the first Latina [Executive Vice-President (EVP)] to move on to the presidency was never something that I planned on when I stepped onto campus as a first generation college student,” Vallejo-Avila told The Guardian. “I’ve really been able to observe this year on what it is I want to contribute to changing the environment of AS, I would like to rewrite the story this year, take those steps forward from us being known for all of the interpersonal drama, and shine the light on some of the amazing work that we do.”

Vallejo-Avila additionally holds a position as External Responsable within the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx por Activismo.

A Political Science – Race, Ethnicity, and Politics major and Business minor, Vallejo-Avila has spoken on the relevance of her curriculum within the A.S. executive office.

“[Considering my major], I want to utilize what I learn in the classroom [and] implement it in the communities around me,” she explained in a video on Instagram released during run-off campaigning. 

“To be able to have a platform to utilize my knowledge to be a bridge for students, to connect them to these resources, is an opportunity that I’m very excited to pursue,” Vallejo-Avila told The Guardian.

Throughout the duration of the race for the Student Body President and General Elections, Vallejo-Avila’s ASCEND accumulated endorsements from Students for Justice in Palestine at UCSD, the Astronomy Club, the Beautiful Mind Project, the Korean American Student Association, and Jewish Voices for Peace at UCSD, among other collectives.

“I want to thank all of my friends, all of my peers, the students who voted for me, and my dedicated campaign team who supported me throughout this election,” Vallejo-Avila added. 

“I’m feeling really honored, and very eager for the work to come, to be able to fulfill my promises.”

About the Contributor
Natalia Montero Acevedo, Associate News Editor
A Political Science major, Natalia Montero loves to engage with on-site reporting to connect with communities’ affairs. Be warned, she will bombard you with random facts about whatever book she’s currently reading. She will also make sure to bring up The Sound of Music, Mitski, and Roger Deakins’ or Justine Triet’s work in whatever conversation she’s in.
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