The Nexus has compiled profiles of our current Associated Students (A.S.) elected officials to reflect on their past year in office. Looking back on their campaign platforms, we asked our elected officials to tell us about their successes and shortfalls throughout their terms in office. The term in reviews for the other executives — IVP, EVPSA, S.A.G. and EVPLA — can be viewed at dailynexus.com.
Going into the 2019-2020 school year, Associated Students President Alison Sir — like many other student government officials — hadn’t imagined that she’d be ending her term in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sir, who has spent the last few months running her office from home, spoke to the Nexus over Zoom about her successes, shortcomings and what comes next.
“UCSB has given me so much, has given me the confidence, the friends, the love I needed,” Sir said. “I really loved this position.”
Sir ran on a number of platform points during the Spring 2019 election, focusing primarily on improving students’ basic needs. Her vending machine specifically for food insecure students — a project two years in the making — will be placed in Associated Students (A.S.) Main sometime in the next year.
She also continued the work of her predecessor Brooke Kopel in finding a permanent location for the A.S. Bike Shop. By the end of her term, Sir narrowed down a final location for the shop.
Sir’s Strategic Vision Task Force met weekly to reassess the Strategic Vision 2020, a project first started by 2013-2014 A.S. President Jonathan Abboud. The project aimed to revamp the way A.S. addresses the larger student body through increased accessibility, outreach and transparency, she said. Throughout her term, Sir helped to create Strategic Vision 2025, a follow up to Abboud’s plan; finalizing this plan will continue with the next A.S. president, she said.
But beyond the tangible projects, Sir said she was most proud of how she advocated for students’ needs with the UC Santa Barbara administration.
She pointed to her role in creating UCSB’s first Mental Health Taskforce, which held its first town hall in early February but saw a low turnout of students; her work at the end of winter quarter, when she helped students whose professors refused to cancel in-person finals; and her work at the end of fall, when she said she brought students’ concerns about the sexual assault allegations against members of Sigma Pi to the administration.
Sir said she was able to be a resource for students during Fall Quarter 2019, when UCSB fraternities faced several allegations of sexual assault either by members of the fraternity or on fraternity property. Many student leaders and groups criticized administrators for not being transparent about the allegations.
Sir said she spoke to several members of the administration about students’ concerns; the administration, in response, created a Safer Social Events in Isla Vista task force to improve safety at social events in Isla Vista.
Sir, a member of Greek life herself, emphasized that the task force still has a great deal of work to do in terms of making Isla Vista safer.
Additionally, when the end of Winter Quarter 2020 hit, Sir said she and her fellow executives compiled testimonials from students’ whose professors had refused to cancel in-person finals, despite the university asking instructors to make alternate arrangements, back when the university initially planned for students to return at the end of April.
Sir said she and the executives then brought those testimonials to Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who allowed them to witness calls he then placed to each professor, “trying to persuade [professors], ‘Hey, this is what students are feeling. This is a testimonial from your class.’”
She added that she spent her spring break “constantly calling the Chancellor, the administration and Marisela [Márquez]” to find out what was next for UCSB’s students.
Following all these conversations, Sir said she used an A.S. executive order to launch the A.S. COVID-19 Response Task Force to help centralize all communications and project proposals related to the coronavirus. The task force, chaired by Senate First Pro Tempore Tianna White and Sir’s Chief of Staff Adam Chohan, held its first weekly meeting on May 4.
The task force was able to grant Student Health money for face masks and help students figure out where to request additional grants from A.S. She added that herself and her fellow executives sent out a survey that was later used to create a list of resources specific to different student groups on campus, such as transfer students and undocumented students.
“40% of the job is showing up and being present with what students need in front of the administration,” she said. “I feel like I’ve definitely done that.”
Sir’s successor, A.S. President-elect Daevionne Beasley, was sworn in Wednesday night.
When asked about the recent allegation of sexual assault against Beasley, Sir declined to comment, and said the allegation “[is] not part of my term in review.”
On Tuesday, Sir released a statement on her social media accounts and the official Office of the President accounts saying she would be putting her social media accounts “on lockdown due to the extreme harassment I faced on social media for the past week,” an apparent reference to calls for her to address the allegation.
“I will continue to support and serve people after my term, but I will not respond to cyberbullying and intimidation tactics. While I have always been happy to speak with students throughout my term, the way in which I’ve been contacted and the words people have chosen to approach me with are extremely inappropriate,” Sir said.
Izzy Mitchell, a second-year communication and economics double major who created a petition to recall Beasley from office, said she has reached out to Sir both on social media and through messages to Sir herself, according to Mitchell’s social media account, Gauchos4Transparency. Mitchell has been calling for all A.S. senators and executives to release statements regarding the allegation against Beasley.
Sir received backlash from students on social media after putting out her statement, with several pointing to one of her platform points – transparency – as a reason why she should keep them open. Sir declined to comment further about why she put her social media accounts on lockdown.