The Internal Vice President acts as the leader of weekly Senate meetings, organizing agendas and facilitating discussion. In particularly divisive Senate years bogged down by party politics, the Internal Vice President is judged by their ability to keep the group of 25 in control.
With the belief that she will be able to effectively control the Senate table and facilitate a productive meeting, the Nexus endorses third-year political science major and current A.S. Senator Tianna White for the job.
White closely follows the steps of current Internal Vice President (IVP) Alli Adam and currently works as Adam’s first pro-tempore, or essentially, her right hand. In the position, she is responsible for sending out weekly agendas, leading meetings when the IVP isn’t present and meeting with A.S. Executive Director Marisela Márquez.
“I’m knowledgeable about how exactly to create an agenda, what goes onto the agenda, how to effectively create it and run the Senate meeting,” White said.
“I’ve seen what goes into [being] Internal Vice President and I know what I can do to make it better, to make senators’ Senate time and Senate meetings more effective.”
White’s ideas aren’t groundbreaking, but the Nexus chose her because we believe she is the most qualified of the two candidates — based on Senate experience — and is the only candidate with the firm ability to effectively lead weekly Senate meetings.
White’s opponent, fourth-year feminist studies major and current A.S. Senator Racquel Almario, brings extensive experience to the position as the current Finance and Business Committee chair, controlling the Senate’s budget and allotting funds to organizations.
Almario has done a substantial amount of work over the year during their senate term as Finance and Business chair, and they are always prepared to explain any budgetary requests to fellow senators when called upon. However, in their interview, Almario failed to elaborate on the details of their plans for the position of IVP and how they intended to execute them.
Additionally, Almario lacked enthusiasm and strong public speaking skills, which we believe are essential to chairing Senate meetings.
A concern of the Nexus prior to our endorsement interview was that White would only continue the work started by Adam because of their close working relationship. But White wasn’t afraid to be critical of the ways that Adam didn’t fully measure up.
White pointed out that one problem of Adam’s 70th Senate was poorly attended senator trainings.
“In the beginning of the year there were supposed to trainings that senators were supposed to complete. I believe we’re supposed to complete seven out of the 14 trainings and a lot of them just did not get done. We had a lot of issues with getting senators to go to the trainings,” White said.
White said that these required trainings were “not consolidated and it was not as organized as it could be” this past year. She plans to implement a system to begin senators’ trainings during the Declaration of Candidacy (D.O.C.) period of elections instead of after senators are sworn into office.
“It’s having senators knowledgeable and ready to work from day one, from D.O.C., so that when they do get elected, they can just start doing what they want to do from the moment they win that position, from the moment they’re sworn in, instead of having to wait and having all these confusing trainings in the middle of the fall that people ultimately didn’t end up attending.”
This change wouldn’t go into effect until the 72nd Senate, as the D.O.C. period is prior to the election, but White said she plans to hold trainings as soon as new senators are elected, so that the 71st Senate can hit the ground running in the fall when students will be back on campus.
Senate as a whole has often faced problems of transparency, with many students unaware of what senators do on a weekly basis and how the Senate can benefit them, despite the fact that it controls close to $15 million in student fees. Different IVPs have introduced initiatives year-to-year to address the lack of overall visibility, with varying success, and their ability to implement these plans plays a role in their overall success as IVP.
White said that, if elected, she would publish weekly informational graphics on social media, listing which resolutions will be discussed that week.
Another key plan of White’s is using the Senate unallocated budget, a portion of the Senate’s funds reserved for organizations needing extra funding, to create an emergency fund for students navigating financial burdens due to the coronavirus.
These funds could be used by students to pay rent, break leases or rent storage units, and after the fund’s coronavirus-related needs are over, it would be converted into an A.S. emergency fund, to be used in times of crisis that affect the entire campus.
For this plan, White intends to reach out to the UCSB Alumni Association to create an endowment and also wants to connect with potential donors.
White did not fully answer how her plan is different from the work already being done by the Financial Crisis Response Team (FCRT), which is designed to help students financially in situations like the coronavirus or the 2017 Thomas Fire. When asked to clarify, she said she believes the organization’s work is only on an individual basis.
It is a red flag that White lacked a deep understanding about the FCRT, which would be crucial to implementing what is her top platform point. But the IVP, more so than any other executive position, is more focused on internal operations than directly impacting students through new initiatives.
Both White and Almario were senators this year, each with leading roles within the senate, as first pro-tempore and Finance and Business Committee chair, respectively.
Over the term, Almario authored four resolutions, compared to White’s 17.
That being said, this was a decision not made lightly by the Nexus, as Almario brings extensive A.S. experience and some great platform points to the table.
Almario said that, if elected, they plan to move required trainings online, helping to ensure that all senators are trained while not requiring scheduled appointments.
Almario also wants to create a senate bill tracker, which is far more comprehensive in ensuring accountability compared to White’s weekly update plan. We would hope that White would implement some of these initiatives if elected.
Ultimately, the Nexus believes that White has the ability to lead a unified Senate, not two separate parties refusing to work across the aisle.
White is not a perfect candidate, but Almario’s interview made clear that they did not have the same ability to control the Senate room, which, in the end, is paramount to the success of the IVP. The IVP needs to be a force of leadership, someone who is not afraid to stand up and keep people in line. With this crucial requirement in mind, the Nexus believes that White is the best fit for the job.
[Update 10:16 p.m.]: This article has been updated to better reflect White’s critiques of Adam.
[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.