Throughout this week, we’ve seen a new kind of energy spreading throughout this campus as huge colorful signs are put up on grass plots, and the Arbor becomes more populated with fliers. While much of this excitement can be credited to the activities being planned by student groups all over campus, a large part of this added vitality is attributed to the upcoming Associated Students election. As candidates and supporters of those hoping to be elected to A.S. executive and representative positions bring their own voices to their campaign, it becomes vital for the student body to look beyond the words being shouted at them in the Arbor by the swarms of T-shirts and to evaluate the actions of the individual people inside those shirts.
As you walk through the Arbor this week, you might notice some familiar faces wearing red T-shirts. The Student Action Coalition (SAC) is the force responsible for those red T-shirts that have taken the campus by storm, as well as for the signs, fliers and phenomenal slate of qualified candidates for this year’s election. There is a common misconception on this campus that SAC is a political party — it’s not. Instead, SAC is a movement toward representation for all students — a movement of committed individuals who work hard at this goal throughout the entire year — not just at election time. Those familiar faces in the Arbor are familiar because they have been there all year long, handing out information about an event they’ve helped to organize, educating on the diversity of the communities at UCSB and giving a voice to issues that go unrepresented.
You might recognize Bill Shiebler, a man who has devoted himself to the goal of a represented voice through his actions as A.S. state affairs organizing director or Campus Action Committee chair. Maybe you know him from his role as A.S. Finance Board chair, as a resident assistant, or as a member of the Student Commission on Racial Equality, A.S. Student Lobby or the Queer Student Union.
Or maybe you know Joanna Thomas, who has served throughout the year as a Legislative Council member and has been continually involved in Akanke, Black Student Union, Womyn’s Commission, and the Womyn of Color Conference collective.
Perhaps Janett Cardiel seems familiar. As the current chair of Womyn’s Commission and a member of the Student Commission on Racial Equality, she has also been a key player in planning the UC-wide Womyn of Color Conference.
Then you might notice Gerardo Zepeda, who has also been involved with the Student Commission on Racial Equality, the Queer Student Union, and the Queer People of Color.
These four individuals are the SAC candidates for A.S. president, internal vice president, external vice president of statewide affairs and external vice president of local affairs, respectively. Despite their impressive experiences, they are only four people among the 25-person slate of extremely qualified and experienced individuals. This whole group has remained committed to student representation throughout the entire year and through their actions of involvement with various student groups and underrepresented organizations; they have become an integral part of the progressive movement on this campus. It is these organizers and activists who sacrifice so much of themselves and of their time toward for the greater good that make SAC the movement that it is.
While SAC emerged with limited success from last year’s A.S. election, its actions and campaigns still continued. Hopefully, this year’s election will show that SAC has taken substantial action in order to attain access to the A.S. mechanisms and further affect progressive change. As campaigning continues, go out into the Arbor and talk to the candidates. Ask them about what they stand for and, most importantly, ask them about the actions that they have taken to work toward their goals. I think that you will find, as I have, that you will leave the Arbor with a greater appreciation for the SAC movement and a clear decision on how you will vote.
Kavita Kapur is a sophomore environmental studies major.