Dear UCSB students and Associated Students presidential candidate Torrin Brooks (“Ignore Students’ Party’s Bogus Claims,” Daily Nexus, Feb. 25),
Last year, a group of A.S. Legislative Council members, myself included, and the current execs broke off from the Student Action Coalition (SAC), Student Unity Now (SUN) and the Gauchoholics. We were very upset with the perceived exclusiveness of the parties and the direction that A.S. was heading, and we wanted to do something about it. We did: we held an open call for interviews in the Daily Nexus, we visited every single UCSB fraternity and sorority and we listened to the concerns of our athletes. We sat down with reporters and editors of the Nexus so that we could better address their concerns, we showed up at hall council meetings, we approached organizations of students of color and we made class raps, handed our fliers in the Arbor and set up an I.V. polling station on Pardall Road to make it easier for students to vote. How did the students respond? In the course of just one election cycle, Students’ Party swept every executive position and now holds a majority on the legislative council.
So what have we done with this power? For starters, we held the first annual A.S. Congress to get a better sense of how the students wanted us to act while in office. And what came of it? At the request of the voters, we are pushing for an expansion of the Education for Sustainable Living Program. We are testing a plan to streamline the purchase of cheaper, international editions of our textbooks. We are pressing the university to revamp the inaccessible areas of our campus for our disabled students, and since we have no power to force them to do this, we are helping the Commission on Disability Access by setting up a fund, generated from 10 percent of the sales from our new class readers, to bring interpreters for on-campus events.
I personally sat down with two other Student’s Party council members and grilled our executive director, Don Daves-Rougeaux for two hours about our business services, the investments committee, our staff positions and how we might be able to trim our budget to support more student programming. Because of this, we are putting our entire fiscal report online in PDF form so that students can track their fee dollars. That should be up by next quarter.
OK, now that I’m done rattling off some of our accomplishments and plans, let me ask Torrin Brooks a few questions. First, how long is it going to take for you to declare that you consider the A.S. Queer Commission, Women’s Commission, et al. to be “special interests?” Or were you waiting to get elected first? Have you ever seen our budget? Why do you deliberately misrepresent our position on the I.V. Foot Patrol issue when you know that it was our leadership that drove the A.S. Copwatch program to fruition? Do you have a clue about how many meetings current A.S. President Cervin Morris and the other execs have to attend, or what they’ve fought for behind the scenes – think I.V. Master Plan? You seem to have a lot to complain about, but have you ever come to a A.S. Legislative Council meeting or our office to express these concerns? What problems did we create? No, Cervin’s situation doesn’t count … we’re talking about the party here. What do you want us to do that is not being done? Do you have any specific plans to fix our budget?
Most importantly, do you have any idea whatsoever about what we can and cannot do? This is a problem that is internal to A.S. as well. Over the course of my two years of council experience, I’ve learned that the best way to be effective in my position is to know exactly what I am powerless to do. This helps me to focus on what exactly I can do to improve our situation as students. We can’t fix parking. We can’t physically lower textbook prices. We can’t order the IVFP to get off our backs. We can, however, organize — and organize we will — so that our administration, our elected officials and our landlords understand that we will not let them do whatever the hell they choose to do without a fight. Case in point: Claire’s Park. We passed a resolution in favor of the county purchase of the land, but it took the massive organization effort by the I.V. Surfrider Foundation, Environmental Affairs Board and the constant pressing of dedicated students to force 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone to reconsider his actions — and he did.
Have you run out of campaign promises yet? Get back to me and the rest of the student body when you can answer these questions. Down with Students’ Party? Nah… I’d much rather wipe your “A.S. Holes” and the stream of crap you’re constantly producing.
Adam Graff is the Associated Students off-campus representative and a junior biology major.