The two candidates for Student Advocate General, third-year environmental studies major Sukayna Ibrahim and second-year College of Creative Studies literature major Ethan Reul, discussed their respective agendas for this year’s special election on Tuesday at a public forum at the Arbor.
The Student Advocate General is an Associated Students executive officer and acts as a public defender for the students under university policy. The special election comes after third-year CCS literature major Bailey Loverin, who was elected to the SAG position last Spring, abdicated the position because of personal medical issues.
Ibrahim and Reul addressed issues such as student outreach and the efficiency and productivity of the SAG office. When asked about the role of the SAG, the candidates stressed different parts of the job, with Ibrahim emphasizing the role of assistance that SAG provides for students.
“The job of the Student Advocate General is to facilitate communication between the students and the university,” Ibrahim said. “If a student is in trouble for cheating or dealing with harassment, our job is to advise them on what to do. The student advocacy general should be a resource that is always available for students to advise them on whatever issue that they may be having,” Ibrahim said.
Reul said the SAG should serve as a direct link between students and the university, advocating for students to university administration.
“We are the only office in the executive that directly deals with the students,” Reul said. “The role of the Student Advocate General is to not only amplify the voice of the students, but also to give them resources to assist themselves.”
When asked about informing students regarding the Office of the Student Advocate, both candidates agreed on hosting more events to educate students about the office.
Reul said he plans on continuing the outreach program that Loverin began last year in addition to the casework department.
“We are going to hire more casework staff to enhance the outreach output,” Reul said. “We are going to host regular events in I.V. and in residence halls to tell people about SAG.”
Ibrahim said he also supported the outreach program and discussed other ways to reach out to students.
“I will let students know that this resource is available to them,” Ibrahim said. “I will definitely utilize Facebook as a platform to get the word out.”
Both candidates said events in Isla Vista, such as Deltopia and Halloween, have gotten out of hand. Both candidates also discussed the role of on-campus events to deter students from going to I.V., but each are looking for different ways to do so.
“With everything that has happened last year, these events have become really unsafe,” Ibrahim said. “Whether it is from the presence of people from out of town or the increased police presence that has made people feel uncomfortable. We really need to focus on keeping it local and safe.”
Ibrahim said she supported events such as the upcoming concert on Friday, because of their potential to reduce student participation in the Halloween festivities.
As a member of the Residence Hall Association, Reul emphasized the role that RHA can play during these events.
“I feel that these events have gotten unwieldy,” Reul said. “We can provide alternatives to these events. RHA does hold events that are not only for the residence hall members but also for the community at large. We can make these events fun and also safe.”
However, the candidates disagreed on how they would increase the efficiency of the SAG.
Ibrahim said measures should be put in place to ensure a more productive working environment.
“There should be a reapplication process to make sure there is a really good work dynamic,” Ibrahim said. “I honestly feel that a good work dynamic can help increase efficiency. Also, assigning very specific duties to the staff because all of the duties are broad.”
Reul also said he will seek to increase productivity by allowing students new ways to submit their cases.
“We intend to increase efficiency by reinventing our website to make sure that cases can be submitted online with near-instant response,” Reul said. “We are going to have office hours in residence halls.”
In their closing statements, Reul reiterated his experience in the OSA, while Ibrahim emphasized her association with numerous organizations on campus.