The Daily Nexus spoke with the three new Associated Students senators about their plans for the upcoming school year. Sworn in May 27 to fill vacancies left by three senators who stepped down shortly after the spring elections, on-campus senator and first-year undeclared major Elizabeth Brock and on-campus senator and first-year political science major Mercedes Rodriguez were selected by a special committee after an interview process to replace Brendan Korbas and David Xie. Off-campus senator and second-year political science major Kelly Pearman replaced Jake Johnson after having been his runner-up in the spring 2015 elections.


Daily Nexus: Why did you apply to be an on-campus senator?

Brock: I love being involved and am extremely passionate about impacting lives; I felt this position could give me a better chance in reaching as many students as possible across our campus and that my plans to impact our shared community could be put in motion more effectively and efficiently.

DN: Have you been involved with A.S. before?

Brock: I have not, so this is very exciting for me!

DN: How have you been involved at UCSB?

Brock: This past year, I’ve been the president of the amazing Santa Cruz Residence Hall … Being president automatically placed me in the Residence Halls Association … where I also discovered my passion for student affairs. I’m also a newer part of the National Residence Hall Honorary, or NRHH, and it’s been great getting to know that new family as well.

DN: What do you hope to accomplish this year?

Brock: I hope to eventually separate Counseling and Psychological Services [C.A.P.S.] from Career Services, as they’re both currently housed in the same building … It’s absurd that certain counselors at C.A.P.S. have offices the size of closets … I believe the C.A.P.S. building should also be painted and possibly renovated. Hopefully, there can be a collaboration with our university’s art department to create some beautiful murals over that Pepto-Bismol pink. That space is supposed to be a welcoming invitation for students seeking help, and walking up to that building illustrates the exact opposite. We should feel motivated and inspired when entering the C.A.P.S. environment, and brightening its atmosphere would truly help.

Another project I’d like to take on is placing mental health kits in every room of every residence hall before move-in day Fall Quarter. I feel this will show incoming as well as returning students how valuable and vital our mental well-being is. By placing these kits in the rooms first thing, we’ll be able to create a healthier, more active and more knowledgeable mental health environment where students will hopefully begin to value their internal well-being much more seriously.

DN: Why do you think you will be a good senator?

Brock: I am straightforward when addressing situations, and I’m not afraid to communicate when hard conversations are needed … My compassion for others and my overall love for our university drives my passion to be in this position and will allow me to work devotedly and wholeheartedly towards every goal that’s in front of me. I maintain a very open mind, and I love to hear about ways to improve what’s already set in motion. I believe in listening to other perspectives before solidifying any decision … I am qualified with leading a council and being an active and leading member in multiple organizations through high school to now. I enjoy working in a team and deeply value collaboration and coexisting efforts to get things done, which I believe will help me connect with departments across campus to complete my mental health projects.

DN: What do you want to change about A.S.?

Brock:  A.S. should not be about who’s in which party, who has the greatest ego or who’s enemies and friends with who. There should not be that internal drama because it infects the organization and results negatively in helping our community and constituents. We should all be working together towards the same goal of bettering our campus to brighten student lives.



DN: Why did you run to be an off-campus senator?

Pearman: I chose to run to be a senator because I really wanted the opportunity to improve the campus and community for students and Isla Vista residents. I really have the passion to be a voice for students and I am so excited to be one of their representatives. I can’t wait to create change.

DN: What experience do you have being involved in the UCSB community?

Pearman: I have been involved in A.S. for the past two years. As a first-year, I was a fellow in the Internal Vice President’s Office. During my second year at UCSB, I was the senate coordinator in the Internal Vice President’s Office and I was also the recruitment and outreach coordinator for Committee on Committees.

I am a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I was also involved with RHA during my first year at UCSB.

DN: What projects do you want to complete as a senator this year?

Pearman: My first project goal is to create a more interactive training for sexual assault intervention and prevention. I want to work with Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council to implement this. Also, I want to collaborate with my fellow senators Austin Hechler and Mika Kawakami on this project, who also have knowledge about Greek life.

Another project I want to work on is developing a long-term parking plan in Isla Vista … It is creating safety problems and causing I.V. residents to receive citations. I want to work with the EVPLA Office and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol on this project along with holding forums for students to voice their opinion on how they want parking to change in the future. Having a lot of student input is really important.

My third project goal is to create vending machines in Isla Vista with school and study supplies in them so students can access these resources at any time of the day. A few previous senators have worked on this project, and I want to continue it and implement it.

DN: What do you think will be your biggest challenge during your time as off-campus senator?

Pearman: I expect that it will be challenging to work with 24 other very passionate people, and I know some meetings will be difficult when our opinions clash.

People will disagree, but I plan to put myself in other people’s shoes to understand where they are coming from. I think it’s really important to try to understand why people believe the things they do and that will really help me in deciding about legislation and working with people throughout the year.

DN: What do you want incoming senators to do differently than their predecessors?

Pearman: I think that the Senate should really take the time and effort during the first few weeks of the term to really get to know the Legal Code, the financial policies and the structure of the association itself. When Senators are more knowledgeable about the association and its governing documents, etcetera, they will be able to navigate it a lot better when writing legislation and when they are initiating projects.

Senators should definitely take extra steps to work with Senators that they normally hadn’t already worked with. It makes Senate a closer group of people with better camaraderie and working rapport.

DN: What will make you a good senator?

Pearman: I have been very involved in A.S. for the last two years, and this gives me the experience and knowledge about what students want, and how we as student leaders can give that to them. Being the senate coordinator for a year gave me the knowledge of what it means and what it takes to be a great senator. I also have worked with past senators on projects and legislation.



DN: Why did you apply to be an on-campus senator?

Rodriguez: At first, I didn’t know much about it, so my RA kind of encouraged me because I’m in Hall Council currently and he thought it would be a good fit for me, and he also explained to me how we can help advocate for students and get their voices heard, and that’s what I really want to focus on, being a political science major actually wanting to go into activism.

DN: How have you been involved at UCSB?

Rodriguez: I actually wasn’t involved in A.S., I was just involved in Hall Council. I was a multicultural awareness chair, so I pick up on all of the isms, and that made me a lot more aware … I think knowing a lot more of those ideas is going to help me just kind of implement the things that I actually want to see being done … I think racism is going to be a huge one.

DN: What are your goals for the coming year?

Rodriguez: Definitely just trying to push for diversity, I think that’s going to be my focal point for this year. Not necessarily to offset the demographics, but kind of teach people that our demographics are not as correct as some people might think they are, and that the underrepresented do have a voice and they’re actually very vital to our school. So I’m going to be focusing definitely on the minorities and just having their voices heard and all their work being recognized.

Living on the multicultural floor this year, I know I definitely want to bring it back because I know it is going to change into a first-generation floor. But I want to bring back the multicultural floor definitely because I feel like it had a huge impact on my overall experience of being a first-year … For now, that’s the only concrete idea I have, because I just currently was aware that I got into office.

DN: What do you think will be your biggest challenge as a senator?

Rodriguez: Being biracial, first of all, because I am Caucasian and I am Hispanic so it’s kind of hard to be myself in both positions, because I do look more Hispanic, I get mistaken for being full Hispanic … I’m going to try to understand both sides of the spectrum, but it’s just going to be really hard.