Of the five executive positions within Associated Students, the position of the Student Advocate General is probably the least well-known. But when it comes to serving students on an individual level, the Student Advocate General — the newest executive position — has the most to offer the average student.
Tasked with assisting students facing disciplinary action from the university and educating them on their rights, the Student Advocate General (S.A.G.) is meant to serve students from every corner of the university — not just those who are already familiar with Associated Students (A.S.) and the resources it offers — which is why the Daily Nexus is endorsing Melissa Perez for S.A.G.
The Office of the Student Advocate (OSA), which is led by the S.A.G., works as a “campus public defender,” according to its website. It’s made up of a handful of student caseworkers, who are assigned to students charged with committing disciplinary violations, such as violating a housing contract or academic dishonesty.
Perez’s opponent, current Off-Campus Senator Tyler Ferguson, has done a great deal of important work during his time on the Senate, including putting forward a bill to create two international student senator positions.
However, both through the Nexus’ interviews with the candidates as well as our previous knowledge of their work, we believe Ferguson would have been better suited for another year at the Senate table instead of the position of S.A.G.
During her interview with the Nexus, Perez demonstrated a strong understanding of the issues facing students and a drive to expand the visibility and accessibility of the OSA.
“I was a senator last year, my second year, and I became very familiar with the institution,” Perez said. “I have two friends who dropped out of UCSB because of financial reasons, or because they weren’t supported as a first-gen student.”
“I’ve come to know the university and its flaws, and I’ve lived personally the experiences of first-gen students and difficulties through their time at UCSB,” Perez added. “I know that I am capable of improving resources or helping students access the university in better ways.”
Perez served as a senator during the 2018-19 school year and declared candidacy for S.A.G. last spring, but later dropped out of the election.
“I was really drained last year, and I was going through some personal things, and I definitely was not ready to run a campaign for S.A.G., and I was not the person I needed to be in order to deliver the candidate I believed students deserve for the position,” Perez said.
“So I took a year off, I thought a lot about things, I grew, I healed and I’m back,” she said.
In the last year, Perez has worked as the co-fundraising chair for La Familia de Colores, which she described as a Latinx organization “for queer people of color to be able to have a family, a sense of belonging outside of university.”
Perez said that she has been working at various fast food places and businesses since she was 15, gathering experiences that she believes have contributed to her preparation for S.A.G.
“I learned to value a lot of jobs outside of academia, and my experiences outside of it have given me the ability to be able to respond more holistically to students’ issues,” she said.
If elected as the next S.A.G., Perez has a number of platform points that the Nexus believes will move the OSA forward and allow it to better serve students at UCSB.
Perez hopes to establish a division of caseworkers specifically dedicated to serving undocumented students, lower the GPA requirement for academic probation, set up online appointments for the OSA and eliminate the $60 College Alcohol and Substance Education (C.A.S.E.) fee.
Speaking specifically to her platform point of lowering the GPA requirement for academic probation, Perez noted that a lot of students tend to lose their financial aid if they are on academic probation, adding that it can often be for reasons out of their control.
“I think lowering the GPA [requirement] is going to help students’ well-being and security and retention at UCSB,” she said.
Hoping to build upon the work of former A.S. Senator Zion Solomon, who worked with Vice Chancellor for Students Affairs Margaret Klawunn to reduce the C.A.S.E. fee from $120 to $60, Perez wants to eliminate the fee altogether.
Additionally, Perez hopes to partner with pre-existing organizations, such as UCSB 4 COLA and the Isla Vista Tenants Union, and support the work they are doing on campus — particularly through funding from her office, as opposed to creating more branches within the office to do that work.
“One of my biggest things is definitely giving back to the community, so sort of uplifting the voices that already exist instead of hijacking organizations, funding movements, offering resources that I know the office has the capacity to,” she said.
One criticism Perez pointed out about the work of this year’s S.A.G., Andrew Nguyen, and another issue she hopes to tackle if elected, is the lack of visibility of the OSA.
“I think this current S.A.G. is doing a disservice to students by not being visible enough and [not] providing students the resources or the information,” she said. Perez hopes to utilize social media — TikTok included — to reach newer students and make them aware of the resources at their disposal, should they ever need them.
In comparison to her opponent, Ferguson, Perez did not accomplish as much during her senate term. But ultimately, Ferguson seemed like a candidate who was more focused on the internal aspects of A.S., whereas Perez seemed to focus on reaching outward and impacting more of the student body, which is key to serving as S.A.G.
When asked why she believed she was the best candidate for the position, Perez recounted a memory from her first year of helping her roommate appeal her academic probation and get her financial aid back.
“I think my experiences inside and outside the university allow me to bring a very unique perspective to this office,” Perez said. “I would hope to be able to provide a safer space for first-gen, low-income students of color to ask for help with the university.”
As someone who has advocated for herself and for those around her for the past few years, Perez is well-suited to advocate for all UCSB students as S.A.G.
Update: The Nexus has replaced the portraits done of each candidate with their self-submitted headshot. We heard concerns about the portraits not accurately reflecting what the candidates look like and will actively work to ensure that this will not happen in the future.
finally !! someone who is actually qualified gets endorsed for SAG
Please tell me one thing Melissa accomplished as Senator
you do know that people work on things outside of AS
lol idk im not in AS but she’s passionate and not in my dms all the time asking me to vote for her like the other guy running haha
She is, its sooooo annoying. I literally had to mute her on Facebook
the sag has to advocate for all students. tyler has done that in senate all year. just read the nexus articles.
yeah thats why the nexus said he should be a senator again
melissa is biased for ivp running for a nonpartisan exec seat
her opponent ran with CU last year though, both were affiliated with parties at once
tyler wrote and passed bills all year with ivp senators. last week he and daniel segura got like $80k for covid relief funding.
yeah I feel that but no one should be praised for simply working with their constituents, even if they ran with different parties. that’s the standard an efficient senate should always be held to
tyler has advocated for students and succeeded consistently. Melissa has helped some students as highlighted here in this article but tyler has helped thousands of students as a senator
yeah thats why he should be a senator again.. so he can keep helping them
Someone who is so dedicated and motivated should be endorsed for a higher office position so they can truly shine. Just saying he should “be a senator again” is like having an S ranked employee and letting them continue to work their position because “they’re already doing good they don’t need to change”. Do you see the issue? Those who can make a positive impact should be supported and the nexus clearly doesn’t see that. They enjoy supporting those who are under qualified.
I agree with you, the Nexus definitely made the wrong choice here.
this is not like having an S ranked employee, this is literally just student government
I wish students who run for SAG understood what the office specifically does for students. The office was created as a public defender of sorts for students facing disciplinary action from UCSB. It was intended to help students defend against sanctions and accusations of wrong doing, and students who actually worked for the OSA were to be groomed to run for SAG when ready for that leadership role. Every year we re invent the office because students elect someone who has actually never done the work of the Office of Student Advocate, and the original mission is lost. We do… Read more »
this!! Tyler literally said he wants to be a public defender after college.
saying you want to be something after college proves nothing for how mature or qualified you are now
ok then let’s focus on his qualifications now. getting international student representation in student government, getting $80k for students hurt by coronavirus, making iv arts and living history project official. Students are getting money and representation on campus because of his advocacy. Name one major change on campus that Melissa spearheaded. I’ll wait. I swear you ivp clowns are only for Melissa bc she was in your party when Tyler has done more for marginalized communities than she ever has.
just bc you can pass a bill/resolution doesn’t mean you’ve done any actual work… i personally don’t think either are good choices so don’t come @ me for being partisan. tyler has literally been criticized for not speaking to the communities that he’s passing resolutions for
If working on a bill for 8 months to give representation in student government to a marginalized community that’s never had a seat at the table in 70 senates or even had a candidate run until this year isn’t “actual work”, then i don’t know what is.
Read the article about creating international senators. It says he worked with several international student groups closely.
THIS is soooo juicy because its soooo true lmao “Just because you can pass a bill/resolution doesn’t mean you’ve done actual work” lmaoo I’ll use the same argument when they try to advocate their candidate for AS President. Clowns
lol this has to be a joke right? Melissa Perez? c’mon Nexus you can do better.
The clownery of it all lmao
Everyone should read the candidates statements on the AS UCSB elections site and make up their own minds.
I don’t see administration taking her seriously as our representative during any negotiations. Have you seen this girl’s twitter? @mepenamaste She’s got biiiiiiig crackhead energy constantly out here tweeting about busting nuts. She will get nothing done as SAG if she isn’t even professional in how she presents herself. She just seems like she’s running for herself and doesn’t care about the OSA.
i heard tyler harasses people on grindr instagram facebook now thats biiiiiig crackhead energy
if you want to discuss professionalism, this probably isn’t the best situation to do so when Tyler is constantly messaging people to the point of harassment. not saying one candidate is more professional than the other, but I’d rather see some twitter spam than someone constantly personal messaging people.
“I’d rather see my elected official post about fisting on twitter than reach out to me personally asking for support” lol
fisting over harassment always
“crackhead” is an anti black pejorative, please take the time to do your research on this instead of posting about someone’s tweets
Despite the nexus’s endorsement I believe that Tyler is more qualified for the position. He has the experience and drive to make change happen, and “better suited for another year at senate” just means that they’re afraid of giving him a position to allow real change. The nexus for the last two year has repeatedly endorsed unqualified candidates that have lost, and it begs to question their reasoning behind these decisions. As students we want someone who brings about real change. Tyler would make that possible, and his history with senate proves it.
Disappointed in the nexus here. Someone who tells me their astrological signs in their candidate statement, should not be elected to be an executive of a 501(c)3 with a multimillion dollar budget. Whack. Be a responsible adult. Treating a job (that has such a significant impact on the future lives of students) like a dating app is heartbreaking. How can the nexus endorse that?
it’s genuinely disgusting that the nexus would endorse such a grossly unqualified, unprofessional candidate over one of the most effective senators of the year.
sad how you think one’s social media presence is still a reflection of how “professional” they are. let’s progress a little, shall we? maybe you can learn to have some fun on social media as well instead of being a grumpy troll ):
Isn’t it? Case in point Trump?!? Helloooo
bruh LIGHTEN UP “Be a responsible adult” says the former AS executive still trolling nexus posts. people are allowed to add some fun in their statements as well. Someone saying something about astrology makes them irresponsible? now that’s wack. I’m more down to have a SAG that says what sign she is than someone who is constantly badgering students to vote for him.
“Let’s vote for the astrologist over the accomplishes senator and pre law student for a defense attorney executive position”
Austin for president
CU rats complaining about an under-qualified candidate being endorsed as if that hasn’t always been the case with their own shithead candidates in the past lmao
The OSA office needs to be 100% unbiased and open to all students. Regardless of background, race, parties. Melissa– although she is far left just like I am– does not have a grasp of the requirements of the office. Both Melissa and Tyler care about minority problems clearly which any student can obviously get behind. Yet, a glimpse at Melissa’s Twitter account reveals that she is not prepared to take on the more difficult cases that walk through OSA doors– like those for the students whose values WE DONT support as hard as it is. OSA is an Office for… Read more »
Tyler is progressive too, but will work for all students