Yes, I know. A.S. looks bad — real bad right now. But I promise that is going to change. Amid resignations, accusations of extortion, disqualifications and what looks like flat out partisanship, I promise you, the students, that there is hope, and I urge you all not to quickly judge a whole organization based on the alleged actions of a few.
First, I’d like to say that I completely condemn the action of anyone exchanging alcohol for votes. I am a devout Muslim, and I do not drink. It is also against my religion to provide alcohol to anyone, and this is something that I would personally never do. I am 22 years old and have never bought alcohol and do not intend to ever do it.
That being said, I urge everyone to respect the individuals who are allegedly involved. Unless you personally already know these individuals or have had a chance to talk to them and hear their own personal side of the story, then I strongly recommend that everyone reserve judgment. I personally know the individuals who are accused, and I love and trust them because I know their character. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Not everything you hear is true, and if you pass judgment without even knowing the person you can say some really hurtful and false statements.
For example, last Saturday night, while working my shift for All Hall Ball in RHA, an individual came up to me and said “Enjoy your community service hours. You are guilty.” I was completely shocked by the statement. I politely told her to have a good night and walked away. Just to clarify for those of you who do not know, I got punished with 15 hours of community service a quarter for essentially not knowing about the alleged acts and not putting an end to them as a leader in the party. I truly believe that these punishments have slightly slandered my name for something that I was completely uninvolved in and would never do.
This is beside the point. When we look at Associated Students, we often assume it to be just the Legislative Council and the executives, mainly because they are the elected officials, but there is so much more to A.S.
For example, BCCs like Environmental Affairs Board, Take Back the Night, Womyns Commission, Program Board, Student Lobby and many others work countless hours doing work that is soooo (would add more O’s if I could) important to our campus. To judge all those committees and A.S. as a whole, based on the alleged actions of a few, would be quite unreasonable. (I also encourage you to check those committees out and see the awesome type of work they do.)
In the midst of an at-least-35-million-dollar budget cut to UCSB next year (yes, that probably means a mix between higher tuition and less classes), we really need to unify ourselves and not get ourselves caught up in silly and trivial stories. For those of you who believe we simply cannot do anything about these budget cuts, I cannot disagree more. I asked a question to Executive Vice Chancellor Lucas at the budget forum asking “What can we the students do to help?” He responded by telling me that last year, when the students really mobilized, it made a big difference with legislators in Sacramento and slightly helped our situation. The only way we can truly make a difference is if we are unified on all fronts. During and after elections, we often forget that we have so much in common and that many of us are all working for the same goals. If anyone has any problems, ideas or anything at all, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am willing to even schedule appointments to talk because it is my duty to represent you. Also, I am still accepting applications to work in my office. E-mail me if interested.
Ahmed Mostafa is the External Vice President of Statewide Affairs.