The Daily Nexus endorses third-year psychological & brain sciences major Osaze Osayande for External Vice President for Local Affairs.
The Nexus believes that her experience within the office and her thoughtful proposals for community-oriented alternatives to policing lend her an advantage over her opponent, third-year political science and writing & literature double major Kellen Beckett.
The Nexus acknowledges that Beckett has a strong grasp on the community, history and politics of Isla Vista, an area where Osayande exhibited a clear deficiency. Regardless, the Nexus chooses to endorse Osayande because of her emphasis on policies that directly parallel student needs, a strength not seen in Beckett’s platform. The Nexus recognizes that they possess opposing qualities and that they both are viable candidates in individual ways.
Osayande is running on a platform to reimagine a more inclusive understanding of community safety, increase transparency and accessibility for the office and advocate for UC Santa Barbara students.
She currently serves as External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) community services district (CSD) coordinator, an experience that she said provided her with a “solid understanding” of the office’s internal functions and would ensure a smooth executive turnover.
The Nexus believes that Osayande’s potential efforts to reduce police presence in Isla Vista, invest in community safety resources and expand restorative justice could be a tenure-defining service to the student body. She wants to work with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) to expand its restorative justice program beyond alcohol and noise-related citations to include marijuana-related violations, as well as diversify the program’s teaching staff.
“I personally believe that when we invest in our community, it makes the need for policing obsolete,” Osayande said.
She also aims to reduce penalties for students who receive a bike or skateboard citation by increasing the number of times students can take UC Police Department (UCPD) Bike/Skateboard Safety Class from one to four.
However, while the Nexus believes Osayande is the better candidate, she was ignorant about various aspects of the I.V. community and local governing bodies. Her responses indicated ill-preparedness to serve as the leader of an executive office tasked with addressing local affairs.
From someone who has attended every I.V. Community Services District (IVCSD) board of directors meeting as EVPLA CSD coordinator, the Nexus would have liked to hear a more insightful critique of the CSD.
“In critique of them, I would say that they sometimes fail to delve deeper into issues, like regarding their cliff safety and balcony safety campaign,” she said. “I feel like that was obviously a great thing to spread awareness, but I also think that they could have done more in regards to support an issue like that.”
When asked how she would have preferred for local officials to address cliff safety, she recommended “more in person workshops to convey the importance of something like that in person and continuous awareness throughout the year.”
The Nexus feels that Osayande’s answers reflect that she has not gone beyond the strict duties of her current role in the EVPLA office to educate herself about the community she seeks to serve, despite being in the position for a year. In service to her constituents if elected, the Nexus hopes that she will dedicate herself to the task of engaging with the community and learning about local issues to overcome this critical shortcoming.
However, she understands what issues are fundamental to UCSB students — her direct constituents if elected — and offered smart, tangible solutions that she could realistically achieve in a one-year term.
The Nexus feels that Osayande would be a powerful advocate for students on the UCPD Police Advisory Board and in conversations with SBSO. Osayande spoke out against I.V. Foot Patrol Lieutenant Garrett TeSlaa’s stated plan to heighten police presence for future Deltopia weekends.
“What we should be focusing on is increasing the medical resources, increasing the number of [UC Isla Vista] (UCIV) volunteers that are there, increasing the number of first-aid and water tents that are there and accessible, because that’s what’s really causing the harm in our community,” Osayande said. “Having more police on the streets giving out citations isn’t the answer to making Deltopia more safe for our community.”
Osayande added that she would increase the public’s access to the EVPLA office by holding quarterly town halls and creating a “digital public forum” on the website for students to submit comments or concerns.
While the Nexus liked several of Beckett’s policy proposals, his lack of relevant qualifications presented disadvantages to his candidacy.
Beckett currently serves as a collegiate senator, but did not participate in senate during fall quarter while studying abroad. He previously served as the director of alumni affairs in the 2021-22 Office of the President.
Beckett is running on a platform to reopen the Associated Students Pardall Center, freely distribute date-rape drug testing and overdose prevention kits and support expanded I.V. self-governance.
His platform encompasses a wider breadth of issues, indicative of someone who has in-depth knowledge of I.V. and understands the local community’s holistic needs.
He aptly identified the biggest issues that the I.V. community faces — policing, food and housing insecurity — and had decent ideas to tackle each.
By contrast, Osayande admitted to little knowledge of the I.V. cityhood movement, the driving force behind the CSD’s founding. Despite being the CSD coordinator for the EVPLA office, she did not fully describe the roles and responsibilities of the CSD when asked; she just addressed their community events and programs, citing the recent Spring Festival held Deltopia weekend, when the district’s jurisdiction extends to issues such as parking, lighting, rental mediation and public safety.
She had no specific critiques of local representatives, including Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, State Assemblymember Gregg Hart and Congressman Salud Carbajal, other than vaguely stating that they could “do more” for Isla Vista.
She had little to say about how she would work to meet the unique needs of Isla Vista’s long term residents, families and marginalized communities. The Nexus hopes that if elected, Osayande will make a concerted effort to educate herself on the issues her opponent demonstrated a more comprehensive grasp on.
Beckett — member of the A.S. Basic Needs Committee — also wants to expand and publicize the A.S. Food Bank, pointing to the basic needs vending machines as a successful project and mentioning an ongoing pursuit to distribute meal kits in I.V.
Beckett also pitched hiring an additional legal advisor to work in the A.S. Legal Resource Center and an idea for a “progressive tax” on landlords based on the number of rental properties they own in I.V.
“I’d love to work with the local government to see what we can do in our office to prevent those rent increases from happening and what we can do to have these predatory landlords give more back to the local community that they take so much from,” Beckett said.
The Nexus retains doubts about the feasibility of some of these ideas, either for being costly, likely unattainable within a one-year executive term or for existing beyond the reasonable scope of the EVPLA office. His ambition to revamp the Pardall Center is greatly commendable and an initiative the Nexus would appreciate to see undertaken by Osayande in her possible tenure.
Both candidates emphasized their plan to continue and expand UCIV, a community-run task force that provides an alternative to the Community Service Officer Program offered through UCPD. The Nexus believes Osayande is better equipped to oversee UCIV’s continuation and EVPLA’s other long term goals, such as its sustainability initiatives, given her familiarity with the office.
We trust that Osayande has the potential and skills to continue the work of the EVPLA, carry out her promising and resonant agenda and prioritize a restorative justice approach to law enforcement locally.
Correction [04/20/2023 2:15 p.m.] A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Kellen Beckett authored “a singular piece of passed legislation” in his term as a collegiate senator. The Nexus verified that Beckett has passed at least six pieces of legislation in his term.
A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the April 20, 2023 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
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