Tears and screams filled the Hub last night during Associated Students Elections Results as the Open People’s Party took nearly every position for the second year in a row, with just one Democratic Process Party candidate and one independent candidate getting voted in. All quarterly lock-in fee reaffirmations were approved and new fees for Queer Commission/LGBTQ students and a composting program were passed.
Quarterly student fees for a sobering center in Goleta, renovations and expansion to the University Center, the campus’s annual ‘senior book’ and a literary magazine called The Catalyst all did not pass. Meanwhile, O.P.P. swept all the executive positions, with third-year sociology and psychology double major Ali Guthy voted in as A.S. President, third-year economics and accounting major Angela Lau as Internal Vice President, third-year sociology and Asian-American studies major Beatrice Contreras as External Vice President of Local Affairs and third-year political science and film and media studies major Melvin Singh as External Vice President of Statewide Affairs. Bailey Loverin was voted in as Student Advocate General; running for the position requires the candidate to be independent of campus political parties. OPP won almost every position on A.S. Senate, except two.
Last year, OPP won every position except one uncontested spot. However, A.S. Off-Campus Senator Andre Theus said he still found the far-reaching victory unexpected. Theus, a third-year sociology major and member of the OPP, said there were concerns that voter turnout numbers may be low because of the party’s sweep last year and in years past, such as in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
“I thought people were lost in this mentality that OPP sweeps, so they didn’t have to vote,” Theus said. “Kind of like this mentality in America, where people don’t vote because they don’t think their vote counts.”
Taking several factors into account, such as campaigning style and which student demographics and campus groups each party reaches, Theus said OPP has secured loyal voting blocs such as Jewish student groups and greek life. In light of ongoing divestment talks, including one just Wednesday night, Jewish students and their campus organizations have helped the party get more votes, according to Theus. In fact, three of the four OPP candidates for executive positions were endorsed by American Students for Israel and Gauchos for Israel.
According to Theus, the larger Jewish student population may be supportive of the party due to the fact that many senators affiliated with OPP have voted down the A.S. resolution to divest from Israeli companies associated with human rights violations in the region.
“I would say Jewish students have been loyal because of OPP’s votes in Senate for divestment over the past two years,” Theus said. “OPP was founded by a Jewish student, but I was here freshman year election, and the Jewish students were not that involved in our election,” Theus said. “I think the divestment thing definitely has a sort of pull on votes in a certain way. It’s sad; it’s kind of used as a sort of strategy towards the elections.”
During the elections results, a constitutional amendment to add two more senators had also passed. Lau, who was the only executive candidate to run unopposed, said she was eager to start her new plans as A.S. IVP right away.
“I’m just excited to really work with the senators, orient them into their positions, and really let them know what they’re going to be doing so that they can start planning during the summer,” Lau said.
For Singh, the win left him “speechless.” Like Lau, Singh said he is going to start up his projects and other work as soon as summer comes.
“Once summer hits, my plans will start setting in motion and everything will be more clear from this point on,” Singh said. “I’ll be having more substantial steps towards the goals that I wanted to present and start making the office more student-friendly and give them a stronger voice on the statewide and UC levels.”
DP Party Presidential Candidate Navkiran Kaur, third-year Black studies and sociology major, said she plans to remain involved in student life and campus organizations. Given party resources and how the electoral process plays out, she said the big win comes as a red flag in determining how democratic A.S. Elections really are.
“I think we really need to question our elections process. We really need to wonder why the same people are monopolizing all the power in Associated Students because that is not okay,” Kaur said. “The Associated Students is not actually associated with the students. This is not actually a true representation of the students — having a sweep is never a good thing … it’s always better to have a mix of students.”
Carissa Quiambao and Aditya Tadanki also contributed to this article.
Photos by Eric Swenson, Sarah Kouklis and Alex Gonzalez / Daily Nexus.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.