With the Associated Students spring election two weeks away, candidates vying for executive officer positions and Legislative Council seats begin campaigning today for the 27 possible positions.
Members of Students’ Party (SP), which currently holds a majority in UCSB’s student government, Student Action Coalition (SAC) and the lone member of an unofficially named independent party, “A.S. Holes,” began putting up signs on grass lots this morning shortly after midnight. Candidates said they plan to hand out pamphlets, debate each other and campaign in Isla Vista to try to win votes in the next two weeks before elections are held online via GOLD from April 18 to 21. Students will also be able to vote on several new lock-in fee initiatives or lock-in increases.
Off-Campus Rep. Adam Graff (SP), running against Off-Campus Rep. Joanna Thomas (SAC) for internal vice president, said his party’s platform includes listening to student needs.
“Students Party is the [only] party that believes a student’s background, political views and race should never, under any circumstances, disqualify them from either properly being represented or the ability to serve as a representative,” Graff said. “We don’t pretend to represent every students’ views in A.S., but we pledge and promise to give everyone an audience. As potential representatives of the student body, we have to listen to what people have to say even if their views differ from our own.”
Off-Campus Rep. Chaz Whatley (SP) — who is running against Finance Board Chair Bill Shiebler (SAC) and Torrin Brooks (A.S. Holes) for the presidency — said SAC was founded over 10 years ago and has not attempted to represent students as widely as Students’ Party.
“SAC is speaking and wanting to represent one faction of UC Santa Barbara,” she said. “Our student government’s charge is to be a voice and a representative of all opinions because all students are equal.”
But Thomas said SAC’s platform, which centers on three main ideals, protects all students’ needs. She said the party’s platform focuses on accountability of university administrators and student government officials; accessibility for students who wish to get involved in A.S.; and promoting diversity on campus in their campaign.
“I feel that it’s a myth about Student Action Coalition that we don’t represent the mass majority of students,” Thomas said. “I feel that we [represent all students] to a certain extent. Every student has to pay tuition to go here; every student is affected by fee increases. Every student is affected by education. The demographics of the campus [affect] every student. It’s important to be in an environment where you’re being enlightened by people from other cultures.”
Brooks, however, said neither party has lived up to its promises, nor have they been fiscally responsible. He said he decided to run for president because A.S. gives money to student groups that he feels do not deserve funding while the student government is not able to remain financially solvent.
“I’m not as concerned with bringing in more money, just how it’s spent,” Brooks said.
Although Brooks has never been involved in A.S. prior to this election, he said he believes his platform — bringing increased membership to A.S., bettering the campus by listening to students and making the organization financially responsible — is enough to qualified him as a candidate.
Brooks is not the only candidate concerned with the finances of A.S. Whatley said the financial situation of the organization is more complicated than students perceive. By encouraging students to join A.S. they can learn the details of the problem and help solve it.
Graff said A.S. has been finding alternative means of financing, such as the A.S. reader campaign he started. The campaign encourages professors to use A.S. publication services, instead of the Alternative Copy Shop and Grafikart in Isla Vista, to print readers.
Shiebler said he thinks there are many changes that can be made at UCSB to help students, such as lowering tuition and using the money to directly benefit students.
“There’s a lot of administrative accountability in terms of really holding the chancellor accountable and his budget planning committee in terms of not spending so much money on buildings and parking structures and more towards student orientated programming and redirecting those funds that can better serve students instead of research on buildings,” Shiebler said.
Shiebler also said he did not support the A.S. Initiative (ASI), which would have increased the amount of money undergraduates pay to student government per quarter.
“I felt it wasn’t the best decision because it was just trying to put more money into A.S. before it even took care of a lot of the problems that A.S. was having,” he said. “We have a computer tech that gets paid a decent chunk of money each year that we could have done by a computer science major who could be on work study, and that would save us $30,000 a year.”
Janett Cardiel (SAC) — who is challenging incumbent Felicia Cruz (SP) for the position of external vice president of statewide affairs — said A.S. is underutilizing outside monetary resources for its various projects.
“There’s a lot of grants especially within the Santa Barbara area, like Fund for Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Fund,” Cardiel said. “This is outside money — money that’s not coming directly from the students — which I think is very important because if we’re lobbying for student fees to decrease it doesn’t really make sense to go and hit the students up for money.”
Besides saving students money within A.S., Cardiel said she would campaign to save students money at a statewide level by working with UC Students Association (UCSA) and other groups to lobby California politicians to lower student fees.
Cruz, who has a voting seat on the UCSA Board of Directors, said she tries to lobby and reach out to UC Regents and state legislators with an open-minded approach.
“Some one told me, ‘The more you scream and yell, the less people listen to you,'” Cruz said. “I feel that has been the relationship between the students and the UC [in years past]. We’re screaming and we’re yelling, but we’re not sitting down and we’re not leveling with them. … That’s one of the concerns that I have, to be proactive about issues, to talk about issues and not always go to that into that reactive stage that students often feel they have to go into.”
In local Isla Vista business, Kelly Burns(SP) — who switched parties this year from SAC to SP — and Gerardo Zepeda (SAC) will contend for external vice president of local affairs.
Burns said organizing students is a key component in solving Isla Vista’s problems. Burns, who is co-chair of A.S. Student Lobby and is a voting member of the I.V. Recreation and Park District, said she helped organize the Fall Defensive campaign in response to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol’s fall offensive, which tried to crack down on minors for alcohol related offenses.
“We need something to be there to stick up for the students or at least educate them for what their choices are [in local issues],” she said.
Zepeda said one of SAC’s biggest goals is to improve I.V. by lowering housing prices and increasing their quality. In addition, she said she wants to educate students about their rights as tenants.
“Something we want to do is work with the Isla Vista Tenants’ Union and local tenants’ advocates to protect tenants’ rights and obtain affordable housing and decent living conditions for all UCSB students,” Gerardo said. “I know there’s student representation from A.S. in the tenant’s union [but] I don’t think students are very aware of what the Isla Vista Tenant’s Union does.”