The Daily Nexus endorses Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan, a fourth-year political science, sociology and environmental studies triple major running with Isla Vista Party, as the next External Vice President for Statewide Affairs.
The position of External Vice President for Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) requires representation and advocacy for students on a statewide level, and Quintero-Cubillan’s impressive list of experiences and qualifications fit nicely with the demands of the position.
Their platform consists of combating tuition hikes, tackling basic needs such as housing and food insecurity, ushering a safe transition back to in-person instruction and advocating for environmental ethics and responsibility.
Quintero-Cubillan authored more resolutions than any other Associated Students (A.S.) senator this year and has a proven track record that reflects experience not just in understanding and interpreting legislation, but also in legislative advocacy. Legislative advocacy is an important experience in informing decisions of the EVPSA because it plays a huge role in representing the UC Santa Barbara student body to the UC Regents and other institutions.
Quintero-Cubillan has experience working with the EVPSA office as an off-campus senator. Here, she helped pass resolutions about advocacy, calling for tuition reduction and the passage of Proposition 16, and rallying against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea.
Quintero-Cubillan’s experience in other organizations — including American Indian and Indigenous Student Association, Zeta Sigma Nu and La Familia de Colores — show a dedication to advocating for marginalized communities.
“I very much so inhabit a very particular intersection. I am both transgender, but I’m also non-binary. I’m two-spirit, I am queer. I am both Indigenous and Latina; I am multiracial. I bring these into the table, and they alter my perspective,” Quintero-Cubillan said.
“Someone can [have] extremely intersectional identities but perhaps lack the necessary knowledge, skill and even sometimes the will and care to do this labor. I bring myself entirely into these situations, every single aspect I have in my experience in my identity, but they will not define my term as an EVPSA. They will not define the work that I do. They alter the perspective and allow me to glimpse the needs of our marginalized community all the way to our more general average student perspective.”
In addition to their qualifications, Quintero-Cubillan brings a host of new ideas for the office. For instance, Quintero-Cubillan suggested creating a publicly accessible budget tracker so students can monitor the office’s use of funds, which receives more funding than any other executive office. This effort addresses a lack of transparency and accessibility within A.S. and indicates a push for accountability that Quintero-Cubillan wants to prioritize during their tenure.
That isn’t to say that Quintero-Cubillan’s opponent, Phillip Huynh, isn’t a capable leader. Huynh, a third-year political science and history of public policy and law double major running with Storke Party, filled a senate vacancy seven weeks after other senators had already begun their work.
Coming in during week seven of Fall Quarter 2020, Huynh said he was “not able to achieve any of his original platform points” but believes the bills he did author showcased his dedication to providing relief to marginalized students and those beleaguered by the pandemic.
While many A.S. executive candidates interviewed by the Nexus said they have little knowledge about what Title IX is and what the office does, Huynh highlighted the inadequacies of the office, including “forcing cross examination” and live trials that “may re-traumatize victims and, as a result, prevent a lot of victims from stepping forward.”
However, Quintero-Cubillan shared a more thorough understanding of Title IX policy, stating that “[Title IX does] not exist to support survivors or to offer resources. They exist to report the actual number of assaults on campus.”
Huynh, similarly to Quintero-Cubillan, is running on a platform of financial support for economically disadvantaged communities impacted by the pandemic, student loan debt forgiveness, demanding solidarity and action from local officials regarding support for minority communities and promoting civic engagement among students.
While Huynh’s platform addresses relevant basic needs issues for students, he does not have any experience lobbying for or working with the office of the EVPSA.
When asked about his involvement in Greek life and how he would address sexual assault and COVID-19 safety accountability, Huynh’s answers for both were weak.
Huynh expressed support of the Campus-Affiliated Sorority and Fraternity Transparency Act — a bill making its way through the state Legislature that would increase accountability and transparency regarding sexual assault in Greek life. However, we believe Huynh’s answers should have addressed how he would support survivors and address a cultural problem within Greek life as EVPSA. In addition, while Huynh described how he promoted COVID-19 safety accountability within his own fraternity, his answer did not reflect how he would address the problem as the next EVPSA.
In contrast to Huynh’s shortcomings in commitment and competence, Quintero-Cubillan’s overall experience and commitment to advocacy provides for the perfect background and the necessary skills to not just simply carry out the responsibilities of EVPSA, but to take the position to new heights. Quintero-Cubillan’s innate charisma and leadership skills lend themselves to a potentially exceptional tenure as EVPSA.
“What I bring to the table is experience. I bring together my ability to listen, wait and take action. And lastly, I bring my whole self in the sense that I will always do this job empathetically, I will always do it with care and I will always do it with the intention of making sure that, not just our students, but all of our sister campuses and all UC students are benefiting from the work that not only our office does, but every A.S. and every student on this campus is doing,” Quintero-Cubillan said.