The two candidates for Associated Students external vice president for statewide affairs (EVPSA) Eneri Rodriguez and Richard “Circus” Varghese would not debate last week. They instead agreed.
April 19 was supposed to be the second and final debate between EVPSA hopefuls Varghese and Rodriguez, complete with podiums from which the two candidates could fire questions at each other from across the stage.
Instead, the two candidates sat side by side, complimenting each other and focusing on their similarities instead of their differences.
While Varghese, a junior global studies major, admitted to a lack of experience, he said passion is more important than legislation. Rodriguez, who has been a rep-at-large on Leg Council for the last two years, agreed.
“Experience is no grounding for this position,” she said. “What you need is passion. This has traditionally been a very progressive position, and we need to keep that tradition going.”
Rodriguez is running with the Student Action Coalition, which she defined as “a progressive party dedicated to access to higher education, diversity and community.” SAC has been at UCSB since 1992.
Varghese is running with People of Action, whose goal is “to make everyone feel involved and to eliminate apathy.” He said all government should be progressive, not only the office of the EVPSA.
“Why isn’t all government progressive? If they’re not progressive, then they’re being stagnant,” he said. “I came to college to do more.”
Rodriguez and Varghese both promoted activism, especially when working with the UC Regents, one of the position’s primary job responsibilities.
“The Regents are not necessarily our friends,” Varghese said. “They don’t necessarily do what is best for us.”
Rodriguez said she believes Regents are out of touch with local issues and student concerns.
“The [UC] Regents are this group of 24 people who have probably never even set foot on this campus trying to tell us how to spend our money,” she said. “We can’t just sit back and let them run our school.”
Both candidates were concerned about the Regents’ investment in BP Amoco, which is tied to PetroChina Oil, a company accused of exploiting both people and resources in Tibet.
Rodriguez authored the position paper asking the UC Regents to divest from PetroChina Oil, which Leg Council unanimously passed two weeks ago.
Though running as a member of SAC, Rodriguez denounced party affiliations as oppressing and confusing to students.
“People have no idea what is going on,” she said. “Party affiliations just silence students. I admire and respect those people who are running on their own. I’m going to continue to fight against party affiliations whether or not I’m elected.”
Varghese said he would also try to eliminate parties, and said he only joined one this election to receive party advantages.
“If I’m going to compete, I need to compete effectively,” Varghese said. “I don’t want to get buried. If elected, I will fight to remove them.”
Rodriguez and Varghese said no matter which candidate students vote for, the important thing is to vote.