President: Tessa Veksler 

Much of the office’s work during the quarter was through joint sponsorship of student events. Emmett Ruhland / Daily Nexus

Associated Students President and fourth-year political science and communication double major Tessa Veksler said her biggest “motto” this year has been returning student life to where it was pre-COVID-19 and making the Associated Students Office of the President (ASOP) accessible.

She hosted “Coffee with the President” bi-weekly, conversing with students about what they would like to see from ASOP.

“I want to be coming to students rather than students coming to me, so that’s what I tried to do with [this event] … some pretty cool events and posts on social media have come out of students approaching me during those times, so I hope to bring those back at some point this upcoming quarter,” Veksler said.

The office’s social media outreach was revitalized after hiring a new chief technology officer, a position that has been vacant for a decade. A “Mental Health Monday” series included weekly posts highlighting resources and advice for students’ wellbeing, and a new religious holiday series featured posts educating people on various cultural events..

Much of the office’s tangible work during the quarter was through joint sponsorship of student events, including collaborating with the External Vice President of Local Affairs (EVPLA) office and Gauchos Go Green on a beach cleanup, and handing out Thanksgiving meals and recipe bags in collaboration with the Commission on Student Wellbeing, Global Gaucho Commission and EVPLA office. The office also helped plan the Persian Student Group’s Persian Gala.

Much of ASOP’s work is internal, dealing with committee appointments and hires, as well as what Veksler described as “crisis management.” 

On Dec. 6, the Associated Students (A.S.) executives sent a memo to A.S. addressing “major issues” within the organization, “stemming from a dynamic and at times hostile campus environment, coupled with the effects of a learning environment,” according to the email. 

The email listed several changes to improve accessibility and transparency between A.S. and its constituents, such as earlier distribution of Senate agendas, and listed accountability resources available through the organization.

According to Veksler, the “issues” addressed extend beyond fall quarter, referring to post-COVID-19 communication issues. She feels there is currently a “divisive” campus culture impacting A.S. functions.

“It happens when there’s global tensions and global issues … there’s an emotional impact, regardless of whether or not you’re a part of the conversation. I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, but there’s a shift,” Veksler said.

On her personal Instagram, Veksler expressed her political opinions on Israel in the context of United States collegiate responses, garnering criticism in her comment section. 

“I find [the negative comments] unpleasant. I find it challenging. I find it to be a result of the campus culture that we’re currently facing,” Veksler said. “I can’t control [people disagreeing with me] but I can control the fact that I’ve been given this position by the student body and that I will be fulfilling it to the best of my ability until I’m done.”

When asked if her personal politics play into her leadership, Veksler said she “doesn’t leave her identity at the door,” and her personal experiences inform who she is and thus how she leads.

“I take my job as president with everything that comes to be, the good and the bad, and I’m here to continue hearing critiques of students and do the best job that I possibly can.”

Internal Vice President: Sohum Kalia

Kalia is working on creating a system that makes A.S. minutes and finances available to the public. Emmett Ruhland / Daily Nexus

A.S. Internal Vice President and fourth-year biochemistry major Sohum Kalia said his primary focus for fall quarter was to rebuild and recreate various internal systems within A.S. amid the internal dysfunction the senate endured following former Internal Vice President (IVP) Bee Schafer’s failure to call the Senate to session in the summer of 2022.

Kalia noted that a major success within the Office of the IVP has been that the A.S. Senate has regularly convened this year.

“We have a functioning Senate that does meet, so that in itself I feel like is an accomplishment,” Kalia said. “But mostly, fall quarter for me was taking all of the rubble and broken systems that we have and kind of scraping them clean, and figuring out how to craft new ones.”

Kalia, along with his office and a team of senators, spent the quarter rewriting the A.S. Legal Code and reviewing the duties of the IVP.

“The IVP is responsible for literally everything Internal Affairs related. It’s by far the broadest technical scope out of any executive office,” Kalia said. “No one has ever actually done all those duties, it’s not possible to do it in the current structure. The current structure kind of just focuses on chairing the senate and nothing else.”

“There’s 20 departments that are being added, and we’re going through all 475 pages of the legal code and setting up a department or an existing department that can actually hit every single one of these duties,” Kalia said.

One department that Kalia has created is the Chief Compliance Office, something that he has aimed to implement since he joined A.S.

“This year, I’ve created the Chief Compliance Office, complete with a Chief Compliance Officer. All they do is run around A.S., point fingers at things that are broken and then fix them, specifically in financial internal controls compliance,” Kalia said. “That is, I feel like, the pinnacle of what I’ve been demanding from A.S. for a really long time.”

Kalia also established a new contact information sheet for all members of A.S.

“We’ve never had a complete internal contact sheet until now, we’ve never had an idea of who is in this association,” Kalia said. “There’s like 600-something students in this association, every single one of them gets paid. We never, until now, have considered forming an actual flowchart or having some sort of HR software that helps us keep track of every single one of these appointments.”

Kalia said that the internal contact sheet will be completed by the end of winter quarter. 

The Office of the IVP has also worked toward implementing one of the key promises of Kalia’s campaign: financial transparency. Kalia is working on creating a system that makes A.S. minutes and finances available to the public.

“We’re currently working on a completely new web infrastructure for both the Senate and all of A.S., and more importantly, A.S. minutes,” Kalia said. “From there, we will host all finances, all minutes and a breakdown of every single budget from every single minute, every single day.”

Kalia said he hopes the web infrastructure will be up and running by the end of Winter Quarter. 

Chairing A.S. Senate meetings did not run entirely smoothly for Kalia throughout the quarter.

During a Nov. 8 A.S. Senate meeting, a discussion on a bill condemning the militant group Hamas sparked controversy among members of the UC Santa Barbara student body.

Kalia worked with Senate leadership to put several safety measures — including the presence of campus safety officers (CSOs) — in place to prepare for and prevent escalation at its Nov. 15 meeting one week later, where Senate ultimately passed the bill. A group of students gathered outside the meeting to protest the bill’s passing, and the police were called to address the situation. 

Kalia clarified that a CSO was the one to call the police.

He reflected on the Nov. 15 meeting, acknowledging that the safety plan put in place was not successful in preventing the situation from escalating. He said Senate leadership has not officially developed a revised safety plan to address a similar situation.

“After that meeting, I figured maybe I should update that plan a little bit,” Kalia said. “This is something that we’re kind of discussing in the works right now. But we’re trying to get input from every party that was involved, to make sure that this shit doesn’t happen again.”

At the end of the quarter, all five executives jointly authored a letter addressing “major issues” within the organization, including several “apparent weaknesses” within the mechanisms and procedure of the A.S. Senate. The email outlined various improvements that the Senate can make going forward, including revising the distribution of senate agendas, increasing public awareness of the senate and updating the current Senate infrastructure.

“I was really proud of the executive team for doing that,” Kalia said regarding the joint email. “Especially the president really did a great job haranguing us and making us actually do something.”

Aside from the creation of the letter, however, Kalia said that he has not extensively worked with the other executives this quarter.

Kalia said that one of his primary goals for the rest of his term is to further increase the transparency of the Senate. He hopes to distribute Senate agendas to all undergraduate students at UCSB.

“In the past, the Senate agenda has never been sent out to the actual entire Association, which would be all 25,000 students that attend UC Santa Barbara in the undergraduate division,” Kalia said. “I have been working since last quarter into this quarter to get these Senate agendas sent out by email blast to every single student.”

“That’s one of the big ones, I really want that to happen year-in, year-out well after I’m gone,” Kalia said. “Because I feel like the student body should know what’s happening in their student government.”

External Vice President for Local Affairs: Osaze Osayande 

EVPLA is hosting a town hall for Deltopia during the first week of March in Embarcadero Hall. Nexus File Photo

External Vice President for Local Affairs and fourth-year psychological & brain sciences major Osaze Osayande’s main goal for the fall was “increasing the transparency and accessibility of the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) office.” 

During Week 1 of fall quarter, the EVPLA office organized a “Know your resources” fair to spread awareness of the office and UCSB’s resources. 

“My vision was to start the school year off with some really big events to bring publicity and knowledge to our students about the resources they have on campus,” Osayande said.

Some of these events include the EVPLA Back-to-School Night and a Halloween town hall with community stakeholders, including the UC Police Department (UCPD), Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) and the Dean of Student Life.

“I feel like it sparked a lot of productive conversation [in] the realms of restorative justice and how to better incorporate them,” Osayande said.

She said after the town hall, EVPLA distributed an “over-policing survey” to understand community concerns and what efforts may reduce the police presence in Isla Vista. The office is currently compiling the data, and has been meeting with UCPD and IV Foot Patrol to discuss decreasing the number of punitive measures and increasing restorative measures.

Furthermore, the Restorative Justice Program (RJP), which allows individuals to take an informative class rather than pay a citation for some misdemeanors, was a point of interest for EVPLA. 

Over the summer, EVPLA worked with I.V. Foot Patrol to publicize that the program included more non-violent offenses than described, like marijuana-related offenses on its website. However, UCPD did not include marijuana-related offenses and other non violent offenses in its program, so the office consorted with them to mirror I.V. Foot Patrol. 

“Our main goal is to advocate for a lot more standardization in terms of their Restorative Justice Program, and advocate for more guidelines, a clearer understanding of what constitutes an RJP-eligible offense and what doesn’t, and create more structure that can reduce the bias that can infiltrate the Restorative Justice Program, Osayande said.

Speaking to restorative justice initiatives, Osayande said “the initiatives my office is focused on are currently ongoing discussions we are actively advocating for.”

Another ongoing EVPLA effort is health care promotions. From summer to fall quarter, the office sponsored the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics’ STI-screenathons. They will continue from February to May 2024. 

Going forward, EVPLA is working on gathering data from I.V. renters to conceptualize the increase in housing costs after its fall Housing 101 Workshop and first-time renters workshop in partnership with the Tenants Union.

EVPLA is also hosting a town hall for Deltopia during the first week of March in Embarcadero Hall. 

“I think diversifying the amount of people that are present, like having people from various different sects could be helpful,” Osayande said regarding improvements that could be made since the Halloween Town Hall.

Another event EVPLA is planning this quarter is a voter registration drive on Feb. 9, Osyande said. There will be live voter registration, live bands, food and clothing vendors and speakers. 

Osayande said for the rest of the quarter, EVPLA will be expanding CalFresh, hosting another community lighting walk and emphasizing more community service in events. Additionally there will be a voter registration drive on Feb. 9. 

External Vice President for Statewide Affairs: Vero Caveroegusquiza 

The EVPSA office has been focusing on the accessibility of A.S.’s online material and resources to increase transparency. Nexus File Photo

External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Vero Caveroegusquiza spotlighted the accomplishments of their office since the start of their term and acknowledged roadblocks against some of their campaign goals. 

Fourth-year political science major Vero Caveroegusquiza highlighted their office’s efforts in persuading Chancellor Henry T. Yang to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) — a longtime endeavor to build a scientific telescope on Mauna Kea, a land sacred to native Hawaiians on Hawai’i’s Big Island. They said their lobbying during Regents meetings led to Yang explicitly saying that he would not build TMT until he received consent from the Native community. 

“He worked around that in the past to imply it, but it wasn’t quite a promise that he made,” Caveroegusquiza said. “Having him pretty confidently tell me and the [UC Student Association (UCSA)] president that that was his stance on it was nice.” 

Caveroegusquiza said the next step for the TMT project, if it is to continue, is ensuring the National Science Foundation — a potential investor in the project — consults Indigenous communities.

“This is stuff that students care about, this is stuff that we will continue to care about,” Caveroegusquiza said. “Here’s hoping that we can change minds and get stances before we get to what would be a pretty bad situation for everybody.” 

Another campaign goal focused on conflict resolution grounded in intersectional restorative justice. Caveroegusquiza credited second year political science and philosophy double major External Vice President of Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) Office Internal Head of Staff Dan Siddiqui for his efforts in working with police accountability boards across the UC campuses. 

Regarding campus safety, Caveroegusquiza spoke at the Nov. 15 A.S. Senate meeting and a subsequent protest against the Senate by students that led to the police being called. They emphasized that the escalation of the meeting to police involvement is indicative of the work needed to be done in facilitating restorative justice on campus. 

“How can we ensure that we are prioritizing student safety … without having to resort to calling the police?” Caveroegusquiza said. 

“I’m very lucky that our EVPLA is also very passionate about removing police from situations such as that, and we’ll be working further to try to integrate student resources that already exist into escalation training,” they continued. 

Caveroegusquiza then spoke to their office’s goal of increasing the transparency of A.S. They emphasized that an action item in increasing transparency has been focusing on the accessibility of A.S.’s online material and resources. 

Caveroegusquiza also emphasized their office’s advocacy in educating the campus community on the ongoing crisis in Gaza. 

“It was really heartening to see my legislative team be willing to set up resources for us to hold a fundraising event calling for a ceasefire in Gaza — that was really important to us,” they said. 

Above all, Caveroegusquiza shared their commitment alongside their fellow EVPSAs across the UC in holding UC President Michael V. Drake accountable in publishing a statement regarding the crisis. 

“We must ensure that we are meeting the bare minimum standard of recognizing the humanity of Palestinians and refusing to be part of the people that completely dehumanize them,” they said. 

Caveroegusquiza expressed disappointment in Governor Gavin Newsom delaying the UC’s base budget increase of 5% in his 2024-25 state budget, referring to a statement published by the UC Student Association on Jan. 10 in response to the proposal. 

“The UC has come to rely on and expect this budget increase, based on the compact outlined between the Governor and the UC,” the statement read. “We appreciate the Governor’s sentiment that the UC can expect to be reimbursed by the State, but we must be clear that it is very difficult for the UC to plan, budget for and fund projects solely based on the promise of reimbursement.” 

Caveroegusquiza then discussed the overall dynamic between themself and the rest of the A.S. executives, saying they were able to make collaborative efforts to create a statement on commitments they want to make to the association. They expressed hope that this will keep the association on a path toward greater inclusivity. 

“We’re trying our best to engage the association as a community, and we want to hear from you guys what you want to see from us,” Caveroegusquiza said. 

Student Advocate General: Nathan Lee

The SAG office has been able to process 20-30 cases in the first six weeks of the school year due to their expanded outreach efforts. Nexus File Photo

A.S. Student Advocate General and fourth-year economics and history double major Nathan Lee discussed his role in being a resource to students as Student Advocate General (SAG), specifically hiring student caseworkers to guide students through academic, conduct and housing issues.

Lee expressed pride in the work of the SAG office thus far with case workers who’ve provided free and confidential aid to students facing issues with the university.

“The casework where we work individually with students … could be either in a case of someone being accused of something by the university either, conduct or academic related issues, or access to a resource that the university provides. Sometimes organizations come to us wanting to use the pool or they come to us asking us to communicate with the university on their behalf,” Lee said.

Lee said that oftentimes students are unaware of university regulations and have trouble understanding how to proceed when faced with a charge.

“Sometimes students were just not exactly sure what they’re being charged of. They don’t know exactly what rules are being accused,” Lee said.

Adding to this issue is the lack of recordings or written accounts of meetings between students and the university, something that Lee is pushing to make mandatory.

“They don’t really understand how this entire process is going to work and there are no recordings, no written summary, no grid and minutes of the meetings,” Lee said.

One of the main goals of the SAG office has been to increase their accessibility to students and make sure that their contact information is readily available to all students facing conduct issues.

“We were able to communicate with the University Housing Administration … so every time they hand out a write-up or a charge letter, we have communicated to make sure they have included our office as the resource and, in fact, the only resource for students,” Lee said.

The SAG office has been able to process 20-30 cases in the first six weeks of the school year due to their expanded outreach efforts. Lee estimates that this is double the amount of the previous SAG office. 

“I think there are only about 10 to 15 cases in the entire year really for the last SAG office to my knowledge, so I think it’s about reaching out to students and making a connection by coming to them,” Lee said.

Lee hopes to expand the number of its caseworkers in their office by collaborating with Senate.

“The more and more casework we’ve been getting, especially coming from academic and conduct-related issues, especially with housing-related things ever since they put us on to the charge letter, we have gotten probably about one to two inquiries per week, about an incident,” Lee said. “So we asked help from the Senate to increase the amount of caseworkers we have in the academic and conduct-related division.”

Additionally, Lee is working on his previous goal to expand the course catalog by developing an introductory course that could contribute to general education requirements.

“We have been trying to work with the Academic Senate as well as the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs when it comes to changing a mandatory one unit class — an interdisciplinary class that all different freshmen [Letters & Sciences] students have to take … to explain what is the ideal goal for our education and university,” Lee said.

Lee also has plans to push for more undergraduate student learning assistants in classes to expand class capacities and learning opportunities.

“We have been working with the Dean of Undergraduate Education to hopefully include more advanced undergraduates in the instructional process, think of expanding the use of like the undergraduate learning assistants in the university setting [and] the instructional teaching,” Lee said.

“That could not only increase the amount of total spots available for students to take but also help a lot of undergrads to prepare for a career either in academia or some role in education,” he continued.

An abridged version of this article appeared on p.5 of the Jan. 25, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus. The full version is published here.

CORRECTION [1/26/2024, 4:14 p.m.]: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the relationship between the office of EVPLA and UCPD with “a lot of compromise.” The article has since been updated to reflect that change.  

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Sindhu Ananthavel
Sindhu Ananthavel (she/they) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ananthavel was the Deputy News Editor for the 2022-23 school year, the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2021-22 school year and an assistant news editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.
Asumi Shuda
Asumi Shuda (they/them) is the Co Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Shuda was the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2022-23 school year and the 2021-22 school year and an Assistant News Editor during the 2020-21 school year. They can be reached at asumishuda@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar
Anushka Ghosh Dastidar (she/her) is the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ghosh Dastidar was the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at anushkagd@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.
Alex Levin
Alex Levin (he/him) is the University News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Levin was the Assistant News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. He can be reached at alexlevin@dailynexus.com.
Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at lizzyrager@dailynexus.com