The Daily Nexus endorses Alli Adam, a third-year political science major, to serve as the 2019-2020 internal vice president of the 70th Associated Students Senate.
While the textbook definition of the Internal Vice President (IVP), according to Associated Students (A.S.) legal code, is relatively simple – monitoring student fees, representing A.S. in internal affairs, serving as a liaison between A.S., the Office of Student Life and campus organizations – the true test of competency is how well one can manage and facilitate a productive Senate meeting.
Adam is the sole candidate in this year’s Internal Vice President race after the Isla Vista Party candidate, Yash Nagpal, dropped out of his party’s slate during Week One.
Throughout the past year, A.S. Senate was led by IVP Steven Ho. Although Ho did make an effort to keep his Senate under tabs, multiple instances of disorder showcased in Senate meetings were ultimately left unmediated by Ho, who is responsible for being both diplomatic and bipartisan in the position.
The Nexus believes Alli Adam will better equipped to handle unruly situations and facilitate Senate meetings.
This year, Adam served as a Letters and Sciences senator where she learned that the common goal of A.S. – to help the student body as a whole – often gets lost in “pettiness on the Senate floor.”
“I want to run for internal vice president to access the full potential and legitimacy that the Senate could have,” Adam said.
Adam plans to crack down on the use of technology during public forum, which is an area that she believes Ho did not spend enough effort to enforce.
Adam finds the current penalty for technology use, docking honoraria, to be ineffective, noting that most senators breach the policy and use technology anyways.
To remediate this problem, Adam plans to have senators “put their phone next to their name tags,” where they will be much more visible to the public, other senators and the IVP.
Adam proposed this idea because she finds that senators “aren’t as attentive” as they should be, despite the importance of public forum, when “members of our community and our campus come to talk to who they believe is to be representing them and responsive to their needs and responsive to their concerns.”
To further uphold a healthy environment at Senate meetings, Adam said she will have “no problem kicking people out of public forum if they are inappropriate… I can’t have my senators feeling like they’re unsafe when somebody’s coming in for public forums.”
When questioned about her qualifications for the position, Adam cited her experience in mock trial, public speaking, her work in the office of the External Vice President of Local Affairs, an internship at the Alumni Association and her work in Senate this past year.
Although Adam’s public forum resolution didn’t “pan out” the way she wanted it to, she stands behind it because it provides students a concrete and guaranteed time to speak at public forum. The resolution was created in order to hold public forum at a set time, before the “new business” section of the Senate agenda.
On top of her resolution, Adam also provided students with a “campus-wide school supply drive,” where she was “able to save the time and money of over 500 students during Week One.”
In terms of personal qualities, Adam said she will take advantage of her assertiveness and confidence to help keep order and set precedent at Senate meetings.
“I’m confident and unafraid to have order in the Senate room because I think the lack of order and the lack of control has let us senators think we can do whatever we want,” Adam said. “We all need to be on the same page and we all need to have a consistent behavior so that we’re cohesive and we’re productive.”
However, when asked about an instance where she was able to display her assertiveness, Adam was not able to list any tangible examples, citing the “toxic” and “disheartening” atmosphere at Senate meetings where she felt “honest opinions aren’t valued.”
On a larger scale, the role of IVP requires whoever is filling the seat to remain neutral, unbiased and bipartisan. Adam has run with Campus United, one of the two A.S parties, for both her Senate and executive campaigns.
When questioned about her bipartisanship, Adam pledged that, even in the event all other executives are members of the Isla Vista Party, “I am 100% committed to being a neutral and unbiased IVP.”
Adam believes that “drive” and “determination” are much stronger metrics of qualification than party affiliation.
Adam believes working with other executives is “about setting clear goals and clear standards so that we can refer back to them when things do get tricky.”
When asked to critique the current IVP, Adam cited multiple grievances with Ho throughout the year.
Adam is chiefly concerned with the timeliness of training, which educates incoming senators on the various parts of A.S. According to Adam, no formal training occurred until Winter Quarter, two quarters after elections concluded.
“I kind of felt like our first half of Senate was whether or not you had an in with Steven and you could be his friend enough to get the information,” she said.
Honoraria, another aspect that Adam holds frustration with, failed to be distributed in a timely manner this year. Honoraria is sometimes used for “basic needs,” according to Adam, when students rely on its timeliness to make payments. To combat this, Adam pledges to ensure that honoraria will be paid on time at the end of each quarter, as well as to post honoraria links so necessary BCUs (Boards, Committees and Units) can receive their funding as well.
Adam’s final grievance with Ho’s tenure rests in his oversight of the Senate as a whole. Adam said Ho let senators “run amok” during Senate meetings, which hindered the Senate’s ability to have productive meetings.
Ho’s poor control of Senate resulted in “a lack of change being made for students,” Adam said, as well as “a lack of legislation because certain senators feel like if they introduce something, it’s going to be like verbally scoffed at.”
Currently, Adam is working with another senator, Melissa Perez, to create an alternative method for members of A.S. to interact with students, as she finds that the default settings of Senate meetings are often “toxic” and “intense,” which can deter students from sharing their ideas.
“Whether it’s on FaceTime, whether it’s an anonymous email or an anonymous comment, we’re going to have a list that we want to get back out to the students so that they know how they can still contact us if they don’t feel comfortable in the room,” Adam said.
There is also room for improvement in how senators manage BCUs. Adam feels that senators need to do a better job listening to BCUs needs, as it is a senator’s job to be a liaison between their respective BCU and the Senate itself.
If elected, Adam suggested that she will ask future senators to “personalize” relationships with their respective BCU, so they can better tune in to each BCU’s specific need.
“For me, it comes down to personalizing and, as a senator, how you’re going to work with your BCU,” she said.
To maintain transparency within the Senate, Adam proposed the idea of holding one-on-one meetings with each senator every quarter. By doing so, the meetings will allow her to maintain “a clear line of communication” among the entire Senate and help answer any questions senators have by pointing them in the right direction.
At every Senate meeting, there is an allocated spot on the agenda for specific on-campus organizations to deliver an update. However, there is almost never a physical presence. Adam plans to “hunt down” these representatives because hearing from them “really helps senators know what those spaces are up to,” as well as “build trust in senators so they can go and collaborate with those people on certain issues.”
Next year, if elected, Adam would like to have more oversight of Finance and Business, the IVP’s administrative committee and have a Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) counselor present at every Senate meeting.
Adam also expressed her frustration in the lack of resources for students to store their belongings at the end of Spring Quarter. Currently, students can take their belongings home, pay a fee to keep it in a storage locker or move into their new residence two weeks after finals end. Adam would like to create an interim storage solution to allow students to store their belongings as they shift between leases.
Furthermore, Adam would also like to incorporate more funding to “prioritize mental health” without raising student fees.
Ultimately, Adam has not demonstrated as much tangible change in Senate as the Nexus would like to see. But we do believe that, coupled with her ideas to improve the role of IVP, her work outside of Senate and her drive to make A.S. a better entity, Adam is an effective, bipartisan and diplomatic candidate for the role of internal vice president.
Most importantly, we believe she has the maturity and confidence to facilitate Wednesday night A.S. Senate meetings effectively.
The Daily Nexus Editorial Board is comprised of the editor in chief and the news team.