Candidates running for External Vice President of Statewide Affairs discussed sustainable statewide networks, lobbying and student accessibility in the Hub on Wednesday for this week’s A.S. elections’ candidate forums.
EVPSA candidates are Menelik Dagnachew with the Isla Vista party and Kristin Hsu with Campus United.
Both candidates said rising tuition and its effects on students will be their first priority as EVPSA.
Hsu, third-year political science major, is currently chief of staff for the EVPSA office and said her experience will help her address the issues of rising tuition at the state and federal levels as well as increase mental health services.
In her opening remarks, Hsu said she wants to support all students and establish a middle class scholarship at UCSB in response to the one that was phased out at the state level.
Dagnachew, third-year English major, as mental health coordinator for the EVPSA office has already started projects for sexual assault and mental health service information. As EVPSA, he said, he wants to institutionalize student input in the Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) counselor hiring process.
In his opening remarks, Dagnachew said he wants to focus on “removing barriers of opportunity,” specifically within low-income student communities, that impede student experiences because of high tuition costs.
Hsu said in her closing statements that she wants to give back to the community that gave so much to her and, as EVPSA, she wants to address the issue of Asian Americans and women of color in politics.
Dagnachew said in his closing remarks that he wants to empower students in the same way that others did for him and create change through the morals and compassion that his family taught him.
Candidates were given two minutes per question and 30 seconds for opening and closing remarks. Here are highlights for answers to questions from the moderator, Mary Zhu:
- CONNECTIONS: Zhu asked the candidates if they have sustainable statewide networks to work with as EVPSA. Hsu cited her past three years of experience in A.S., specifically her involvement in the UCSB Federal Advocacy Program that sends students to Washington D.C. to lobby, which has established networks at the federal and UC level. Dagnachew said that as mental health coordinator, he helped start peer programs similar to UCSB’s at UCLA and UC Irvine. He said he has met other student leaders at U.S. Student Association (USSA) with similar if not the same goals for fighting tuition hikes.
- GRASSROOTS OR LOBBYING?: Hsu said change comes with both lobbying and grassroots organizing and it is important to realize that students have different strengths in participating to voice their concerns. Dagnachew agreed that both lobbying and grassroots work are effective, and he said he wants to work toward having students see the connection with their own efforts to the actions going on at the state and federal levels.
- STUDENT ACCESSIBILITY: In response to a question about increasing student accessibility to the EVPSA, Dagnachew said his involvement in various organizations, canvassing for student programs such as CLAS and working as a Resident Assistant have prepared him to reach out to students. Hsu said it can be a challenge to be approachable, but she hopes to focus on communicating legislation to students that is not always clear to understand.
Campaigning for A.S. elections began on Sunday and and will continue for the next two weeks until voting results are announced on the night of April 27.
Profiles of all 51 A.S. candidates can be found here.