The Nexus has compiled profiles of our current elected officials to reflect on their past year in office. Looking back on their campaign platforms, we asked our elected officials to tell us about their successes and shortfalls throughout their terms in office. The term in reviews for the other executives – President, EVPLA and S.A.G. – can be viewed at dailynexus.com.
Soon to be former Associated Students Internal Vice President Steven Ho’s term was defined by strict party lines in the Senate and his ability, and inability at times, to keep a divided room in order.
“I know the senators when they came into term, it was in a rocky period for A.S., it was the whole divestment thing, quorum losing, walking out of the meeting situation. The Senate definitely walked into their terms with the same energy my Senate [that] I served on as a senator had, so it was really hard to foster collaboration after that,” Ho said.
“I’m not going to say it’s entirely my fault, but definitely throughout the year [I tried] to get senators to work with each other and just be more composed and civilized.”
Ho was elected to the position of Associated Students (A.S.) Internal Vice President (IVP) during the Spring Quarter 2018 Elections after running with the Isla Vista Party.
Ho was later removed from the Isla Vista Party in December 2018, along with along with former External Vice President for Statewide Affairs-elect Mayela Morales.
“Since they announced my removal, I asked why this wasn’t communicated to me earlier, and they said it was internal miscommunication within the Isla Vista Party,” Ho said.
“I think definitely how senators viewed me definitely changed, because some of them thought ‘Oh, he’s an independent exec. now, maybe I’ll think of his actions more rationally.’ Which is really weird because I feel like I was making the same decisions Fall Quarter as I was winter and spring, but like people just saw me differently even though it was the same thing, which is really interesting about tying a party to a person and how you think about them.”
Ho’s behavior during his time as IVP, alongside the behavior of senators on the 69th Senate, was critiqued by the Nexus in an editorial published in Fall Quarter 2018. The Daily Nexus Editorial Board wrote that Ho “fails to show professionalism” during Senate meetings, seemingly forgetting that ”representing our student body is a privilege, one that they have been given by the students.”
While Ho has maintained a more professional decorum at more serious Senate meetings, such as last month’s divestment meeting, in some ways, he has continued to act unprofessionally throughout his term.
Ho has been involved with A.S. for all three of his years at UC Santa Barbara, beginning as a fellow in the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) office during the 2016-2017 school year before being elected as an on-campus senator for the 2017-2018 year.
Two main platforms Ho emphasized during his term were expanding the A.S. Fellowship and making A.S. more visible to undergraduate students.
“I think I was able to fulfill both, [but] not to the extent that I really hoped to do so,” Ho said.
Ho cited deputy chief of staff resignations in both A.S. President Brooke Kopel’s office and his own, beginning the year in a scramble.
“Because of academic reasons, the deputy chief of staff I had the vision with had to resign before the actual year started. So I had to try really quickly to hire a new one … so basically our hopes for it were not intermingling with the new people that were appointed,” Ho said.
Ho said he took a more “proactive” role in attending meetings for various advisory boards that he said the IVP does not usually attend, including the UCEN Governance Board, A.S. Finance and Business Committee, Elections Committee and Student Fee Advisory Committee.
According to A.S. Legal Code, the IVP is required to attend meetings for the above listed committees, as well as the Calendar Committee, A.S. Commission on Public Safety, Transportation Alternatives Board, Parking Ratepayers Board and Tech and Media Services Committee, which Ho said he did not attend.
Ho said he was “never contacted by the Calendar Committee,” “[didn’t] think [A.S. Commission on Public Safety] even had a chair this year,” didn’t know if Transportation Alternatives Board and Parking Ratepayers Board even existed and said the Tech and Media Services committee was “not existent this year.”
Other responsibilities of the IVP, according to A.S. Legal Code, include ensuring honoraria is given to senators on time, ensuring a parliamentarian is hired for Senate proceedings and planning senator trainings during Fall Quarter.
While honoraria was issued on time during Fall Quarter 2018, the Honoraria Committee had problems meeting quorum, resulting in a late dispersal of honoraria during Winter Quarter 2019.
After the A.S. Parliamentarian, Morales, resigned earlier this year, Ho could not find a replacement after multiple attempts.
Ho did plan required trainings for senators on topics including anti-Semitism and sexual violence, but A.S. Legal Code states these trainings must be completed by week six of Fall Quarter 2018; Ho delayed them to the first week of Winter Quarter 2019, citing attendance issues.
“I’m not going to invite an external organization to come talk to less than half the Senate. I didn’t want to waste their time, I didn’t want to waste our time. So the first week of winter quarter seemed the most practical, because we got higher attendance when that happened,” Ho said.
Through his work with certain committees, Ho worked alongside Finance and Business Chair Zion Solomon to extend more funding to various Boards, Commissions, and Units (BCUs).
According to Ho, he and Solomon did an “excellent job” at reaching out to campus organizations to get funding through A.S.
“I think that’s why we ran out of money so quickly in the year; it was really hard when you have to turn down some groups that wanted funding.”
“Traditionally A.S. runs out of money week five, week six of Spring Quarter, this year it was around week three, week four that we ran out of money,” Ho said.
“Other than allocating more money towards our OSL fund, and encouraging groups to go to BCUs for their funding sources [or] adjusting the A.S. Budget or maybe proposing a lock-in on top of what we already have for Finance and Business, there’s no other thing we can do.”
Another goal Ho campaigned on as IVP was to make all Senate resolutions, bills, agendas and BCU minutes accessible on the A.S. website, but failed to do so due to an “outdated system.”
“The thing about editing the website, it’s super difficult because we run on an outdated system at Associated Students,” Ho said.
“A lot of communication disparity happened within that and I just never got that finished.”
Ho’s leadership style centered on fostering a collaborative environment for senators divided along party lines, and “[controlling] the room when it needed to be controlled.”
“Obviously party politics played a huge role in this year’s Senate, even a bigger role than I’ve ever seen in my years in A.S.,” Ho said. “So [I kept] that atmosphere loose when I need to foster a collaborative environment, but if it did get hostile… [I would make] sure people aren’t out of order.”
“If you met those senators, they definitely do not like each other. So making sure that if there’s a chance they can collaborate with one another, and be loose and be friends, I have taken it this year.”
Ho did not run for any A.S. position for the 2019-20 year, but instead hopes to “get more involved with my own communities I identify with.”
Alli Adam, a third-year political science major currently serving as a Letters and Science senator, will succeed Ho for the 2019-20 school year.
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the May 16, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus
Katherine Swartz is an asst. news editor at the Daily Nexus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.