The candidates for the position of Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs debated a number of issues such as lobbying legislators during yesterday’s A.S. elections forums at the Hub.
Co-Chair of IDEAS (Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success) Norma Orozco represented the Democratic Process (DP) Party, while A.S. Off-Campus Senator Alex Choate represented the Open People’s Party (OPP). The forum centered on issues ranging from how the future EVPSA would reach out to the UC Board of Regents to addressing the needs of undocumented students studying within the UC.
In dealing with the UC Office of the President tax that was introduced last year, which requires all UC campuses to pay a 1.69 percent fee on all revenue-earning funding streams — including student-funded campus groups — Orozco said she was at the UCSA Congress when the UCOP initially introduced the fee.
According to Orozco, the UCOP tax is an unjust financial strain on students, and as such, she said she will protest it by pressuring Chancellor Henry Yang to compile legislation in opposition to it.
“I was there with the current UCSB President Sophia Armen when they were speaking to us about initiating the tax, and I was very vocally against it,” Orozco said. “After that, I was part of a group that organized rallies against it and put together an education campaign …[Student fees are] something we’ve decided to vote on and tax ourselves on. I will continue to actively voice against it.”
However, Choate said the A.S. Senate has already passed a resolution calling for Chancellor Yang to stop the tax.
“I sit on the student Senate, and we actually passed a resolution urging Chancellor Yang not to [tax],” Choate said. “And currently, as of right now, he has approved to not tax students once again this year…However, we have to work and look forward to next year and our future generations of students.”
Following the EVPSA elections forum, the three candidates for the next A.S. President took the stage to debate issues ranging from topics of special projects on campus to broader subjects, like the interpretation of the top A.S. executive’s responsibilities.
RHA President Jonathan Abboud debated as the OPP candidate, while Residential Advisor Megan Foronda spoke as the DP candidate and Patrick “Mac” Kennedy represented himself as an independent, non-partisan candidate.
According to Abboud, the role of the A.S. president is to be an advocate of the students and to effectively communicate with UCSB administration. Abboud said he has three focal points that tackle all issues relevant to the A.S. presidency — University affairs, campus culture and the role of fiscally responsible management of A.S. funds.
“First, strengthening higher education in California, we must unite together. Students, workers, faculty, staff and alumni must be united in our defense of higher education in California because students alone cannot win this fight,” Abboud said. “Second, campus culture is important to me. I think UCSB has a lacking campus culture, and A.S. should be instrumental in building new campus traditions…My last focal point is fiscal responsibility. You pay $180 every quarter into A.S. and you deserve to see every single dollar of that money. I want to take the leftover money and refund it back to you at the end of the year.”
If elected as A.S. President, Foronda said she would work with both university administration as well as students, and said she plans to focus primarily on issues such as protesting UC tuition increases and assuring there is fair representation of all communities on campus.
“When it comes to priorities, you must prioritize students first, especially in terms of higher education. When it comes to tuition hikes, students are out there advocating for themselves. I want to ensure that funding continues to go to student organizations that do work on this campus,” Foronda said. “When it comes to empowerment, I want to ensure that students themselves feel empowered in every space they are in. When we talk about campus climate, I want to make sure that marginalized communities feel safe on this campus and make sure that their voices are represented in these larger institutions.”
Kennedy said he sees the role of A.S. President as someone who would unite the student body and reach out to students who are not members of A.S. Essentially, Kennedy said he is running on three main points — reducing tuition, ending A.S. corruption and improving campus climate.
“I would make sure to reduce tuition. I’m the only candidate that has experience lobbying in Sacramento and that has developed relationships with key legislators,” Kennedy said. “I want to reform corruption in A.S. Currently, the five executives are using your student fees to pay for their own tuition — that’s corruption. That’s $4,500 and I’ll make sure that goes back to you. We could bring Kendrick Lamar here, J. Cole, Jack Johnson, anybody with that kind of money…I want to improve campus climate here. We need to get every single student involved somehow in this campus. We need to unify the gaucho experience.”
Voting starts next week on GOLD, beginning on April 22 at 8 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. on April 25.