Associated Students Elections Board approved last Tuesday the formation of a new campus political party: the Isla Vista Party.
The Isla Vista Party marks the fifth new party to emerge in the past two years. Last year’s election season saw the emergence of four new parties: The Response, Peer Action Coalition (P.A.C.), Campus United (CU) and Queer and Trans Student Body.
CU became the dominant party in April, garnering 64 percent of the Senate and three out of five executive seats. The Response won seven seats on the Senate, and P.A.C. took the remaining two seats.
“I would not wish to see something like that happen again. In my opinion, you would have it so that no one has the majority,” said Nawar Nemeh, third-year political science major and Isla Vista Party executive member. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to dominate. That would be stupid of us.”
According to Nemeh, many of Isla Vista Party’s members were active in P.A.C. and The Response last year.
“There is an obvious overlap. I don’t think that’s an unfair assessment,” Nemeh said. He added that the party includes students with no previous experience in A.S.
There are about 40 active members in the Isla Vista Party, according to Nemeh. He said many of them represent the Black Student Union, El Congreso, Queer Commission, Multicultural Greek Council, UCSB Panhellenic and Inter-Fraternity Council, among other groups.
When asked how the Isla Vista Party differentiates itself from others, on-campus senator Lesly Silva said the party is “grassroots” and “diverse.” Party members have not yet formed their platform, she said, because they are in the process of gathering input from a range of “historically underrepresented communities.”
“We reach out to communities asking, what do you need? … What has been on your mind?” she said. “This is a community-based party.”
Justice Dumlao, a second-year global studies major, said party members contacted his group, the Queer Commission.
“In the past, it’s been an afterthought where people have created their parties and then came to the queer communities,” he said. “We really get a say on what the party is doing, and so we get that foundational support instead of support that we would get as an afterthought.”
The aim of the Isla Vista Party, Nemeh said, is to change the structure of Senate so that students have increased “decision-making power” at UCSB.
Citing the UC shared governance policy, which splits campus responsibility evenly between students, faculty and administration, Nemeh said students have “gotten the short end of the deal recently.”
“What we want is to make sure that students have an actual decision-making power that’s not just one seat on an advisory committee. We want them to actually be the decision-makers,” he said.
Jonathan Lopez, off-campus senator and third-year sociology and economics double major, said the goal of this party is to elect student government officials who will use the power invested in them.
“We need to actually put people in positions where they will have a big influence and will use that influence, rather than putting people into a position because the title sounds nice,” Lopez said.
According to Nemeh, the name of the party is intended to localize the interests of A.S.
“We want to remind people, what do we actually love? What is actually our home? It’s Isla Vista,” he said.
CU will continue to run a full slate for this spring election. According to Niki Elyasi, a CU organizer and fourth-year biopsychology major, her party will maintain its same mission and values, even with the formation of a new party.
“Every year there’s more than one party. It’s definitely more competitive than when there’s only one party running,” she said. “I don’t see that changing Campus United style or Campus United mission. I don’t think you’ll see anything different from us. It’s up to the different parties what you’ll see from them.”