Student Advocate General
Third-year global studies and art double major Joseline Garcia and fourth-year global studies major Anais Zavala participated in an Associated Students (A.S) election forum in the Hub on Monday as candidates for Student Advocate General (SAG).
The forum began with moderated questions and continued with texted-in student questions from participants in the Hub. Zavala and Garcia presented their platforms and informed students about the office of the Student Advocate General, an A.S Executive office designed to help students with legal disputes, navigate casework and act as a liaison between students and UCSB Office of Judicial Affairs.
To begin the forum, the A.S moderator asked the two candidates what defined the role of the Student Advocate General.
Garcia said the primary responsibility of the Student Advocate General is to protect and uphold the rights of students.
“The role of the Student Advocate General is to be a public defender,” Garcia said. “It’s to make advocating for students a primary concern, and make sure you spend time and effort on the struggles that students face in their everyday lives.”
Zavala said the Student Advocate General serves to provide an unbiased space for students to voice their problems.
“The role is to make sure students get their right for due process, whether it be through judicial affairs or the various other resources on campus,” Zavala said. “The Office of the Student Advocate General is supposed to have a staff with a non-partisan perspective that is there to provide students with the help they need.”
Zavala said her experience working under three past student advocate generals and acting as unofficial student advocate general prepared her to actively take on the role. If elected, Zavala said she would implement a Gaucho safety app, legal observers for the office and residence hall accessibility spaces.
“Working in the office, I’ve seen a huge gap in accessibility for students living in the residence halls,” said Zavala. “If elected it would be a primary concern to make sure the spaces in the residence halls like Santa Catalina and San Rafael are utilized to provide students with a way to get to resources without having to travel.”
While acknowledging the differences between herself and Zavala, Garcia said she would also focus on making the Office of Student Advocate General readily available to students.
“Although my experience level is different, my experience is crucial for the office to be successful,” Garcia said. “Having served as a co-chair for Student Commission on Racial Equality and the co-chair for United States Student Association, I know how to represent the student body, and I want to create an office that listens to the students.”
Candidates also answered questions about police presence in Isla Vista and minority representation in A.S., as well as addressing scenarios in which students would request help from the student advocate general regarding legal issues.
President’s Candidate Forum
Candidates for presidency in the upcoming Associated Students election held a forum in the Hub in the University Center on Monday discussing goals and policies for their potential terms next year.
Jason Garshfield is running for A.S. President with the party he founded — the Free Thinking Patriots party (FTP) — and Jimmy Villarreal is running for A.S. President with the Open People’s Party (OPP).
Third-year political science major Garshfield said the main focus of FTP is to represent students and their opinions.
“Our party platform is fairly simple. It was designed to represent the students of this university in a way they are not currently being represented in this association,” Garshfield said.
Third-year history of public policy major Villarreal said OPP has many goals in mind for the next year pertaining to UCSB campus as well as Isla Vista.
“Some of the things we really want to work on this year is varied areas such as academic excellence, fiscal responsibility, safety in Isla Vista, rolling back tuition and mental health,” Villarreal said.
Garshfield said he hopes to address police presence in Isla Vista as A.S. president.
“If there has been a voice for civil liberties on the current A.S. board, I haven’t heard it,” Garshfield said. “Some students are happy with policing here, some aren’t. I’m going into politics so I can provide some sort of balance.”
Villarreal said he believes the police presence in Isla Vista is too great, and I.V. should demonstrate the ability to function well without the current high levels of police occupation.
“I want to work with the community and the police presence here,” Villarreal said. “I agree with Jason — there is too many police here and that is a natural response to what happened last year. But I think we need to show each other and the police presence here that we can take care of our own community and we can govern ourselves.”
Villarreal also said funding mental health services is one of his top priorities to create a safe resource and community for mental health patients.
“Mental health — that’s something I am very passionate about,” Villarreal said. “I am going to be working to bring a $125,000 federal grant so we can provide mental health first aid training to every student who would like it.”
Garshfield said freedom of speech is one of his main concerns and he is unsatisfied with UCSB’s current ranking provided by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
“UCSB is given a yellow light by F.I.R.E.,” Garshfield said. “I think that is unacceptable for a university of our caliber and as A.S. President I will work to modify speech codes so that they ban forms of harassment, forms of inappropriate behavior while allowing students the whole gamut of freedom of speech.”
Villarreal said he hopes to assist students by expanding program such as the A.S. Food Bank, increasing grants and scholarship availability and communicating student opinion on a UC-wide level.
“Some things we are going to do is to expand the A.S. Food Bank from three days a week to five days a week, as well as creating more scholarships and job opportunities for students,” Villareal said. “Finally, I am going to be working on a statewide level to bring every single students concerns to Janet Napolitano, to the Regents, to the state legislature.”
According to Garshfield, the self-governance issue in Isla Vista could be solved simply by opening more businesses in I.V., which would create competition as well as tax revenue to effectively convert I.V. into a city.
“I think AB 3 doesn’t go far enough; I’d like to see Isla Vista become a city,” Garshfield said. “The reason that I’ve been told that that’s not feasible at this time is because of tax revenue. Bringing businesses into Isla Vista — I think that will bring down prices and that will bring up quality, and will help us become a city, and finally end this self-governance issue once and for all.”
Collegiate Senator Candidate Forum
Six candidates running for positions as collegiate senators representing the College of Letters and Science (L&S), the College of Creative Studies (CCS) and the College of Engineering spoke at a candidate’s forum in the Hub yesterday in preparation for the upcoming Associated Students elections.
Four candidates will ultimately be elected to represent L&S, one for CCS and one for Engineering as prescribed by the A.S. Legal Code. All six candidates at the forum are running with the Open People’s Party (OPP).
Ashcon Minoiefar, a second-year history of public policy major running for L&S collegiate senator, said his past experience includes reforming police relations with the Isla Vista community and helping organize events such as Pizza with Police.
“I’ve worked with police, primarily with Deltopia,” Minoiefar said. “Being an intermediary between the police and residents, letting them know of different ordinances that were in place, and letting them know if they were in violation of these ordinances.”
According to Minoiefar, he is in constant contact with Lt. Rob Plastino of Isla Vista Foot Patrol to come up with solutions to safety issues for large-scale celebrations such as Halloween and Deltopia.
“Since Halloween I’ve been meeting weekly with Plastino and these meetings have resulted in many things,” Minoiefar said. “Primarily on the day of Deltopia we had the UCF program, like I mentioned is a volunteer program, and passed out over 5,000 water bottles.”
Niki Elyasi, a second-year biopsychology major running for L&S senator, said she hopes to create more resources for students on campus, such as greater numbers of campus study areas and a tutor service for students in majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“I hope to establish a STEM mentor program as well as create more study spaces on campus,” Elyasi said. “Students don’t have to cram into the library or be uncomfortable throughout midterms or finals week.”
According to Elyasi, she plans to communicate frequently with students and represent them effectively as a collegiate senator.
“I hope that next year as senator this is something that I will be able to do very very well, to minimize the gap between students and their representatives,” Elyasi said.
Dustin Larrazolo, a second-year CCS chemistry and biochemistry major running for CCS senator, said he wants to work to increase diversity and representation in CCS programs.
“I wanted to bring issues of diversity into CCS because it’s a fairly uniform program in the university that we see,” Larrazolo said. “A lot of students from underrepresented backgrounds aren’t really addressed with specific needs that need to be tailored to them.”
Larrazolo said, as a queer student himself, he aims to make changes to CCS to ensure inclusivity towards people with different sexualities.
“I want to also bring up the queer issues, as I am a gay student in CCS,” Larrazolo said. “There are a lot of students who are gay and lesbian or unidentified in CCS and I want to have their experiences be just as great as everyone else’s.”
Heather Vest, a third-year biology major running for L&S senator, said she is passionate about environmental issues and specifically wants to address the current drought and examine UCSB’s efforts to conserve water.
“I hope to work on environmental issues across the campus including drought awareness,” Vest said. “We’re in a severe drought so I want to understand why our campus is so green compared to everywhere else in California.”
Vest said she wants to provide specific resources including grants and on campus support groups to aid financially struggling students.
“I also want to work with underprivileged students, like students with increasing hardships, especially financial hardships,” Vest said.
Sara Maroofi, a third-year mechanical engineering major running for engineering collegiate senator, said there are programs available only on campus that students require, which she wants to make more accessible.
“I would really like to help spread the software that a lot of engineers have used across the campus,” Maroofi said. “[The labs] often get crowded during midterms and finals so I’d really like to increase accessibility to labs for students on campus.”
According to Maroofi, her position as a resident assistant with UCSB Housing and Residential Services allowed her to organize programs to integrate students and address diversity.
“The first thing that comes up in a lot of people’s mind is race, however diversity also includes sexual orientation identity, race, class and gender,” Maroofi said. “Oftentimes these get forgotten and as an RA here at UCSB I’ve put on programs to help remind people of these issues.”
Stevan Abdalmalik, a second-year history of public policy major running for L&S collegiate senator, said he plans to actively work against UC tuition hikes.
“Our state government has chosen to underfund your education,” Abdalmalik said. “Next year, your education will cost $500 more than it already does this year, and your financial aid will not be able to recover it, meaning you’ll have to take out more student loans.”
Abdalmalik said he recently lobbied in Sacramento to increase funding and successfully got two bills endorsed by two different congressmen.
“As a lobby trader, I’ve been up to Sacramento several times this year to lobby on behalf of our students to ask our state to fund us,” Abdalmalik said. “I was just in DC two weeks ago, asking our Congress to stop the raid on student aid and fund higher education.”