The Daily Nexus endorses second-year political science and sociology double major and current Off-Campus Senator Nayali Broadway as the next Associated Students President.

The Nexus believes in Broadway’s commitment to an inclusive campus climate that ensures stability in the wake of a year of division and hostility among students. Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus

The Nexus believes in Broadway’s commitment to an inclusive campus climate that ensures stability in the wake of a year of division and hostility among students, as evidenced by her two years of experience within Associated Students (A.S.).

“Associated Students needs to become a safer space, where marginalized students can feel comfortable coming to us,” Broadway said.

However, all three candidates running for A.S. President present significant concerns for the Nexus regarding their ability to successfully execute the duties of the role. Given Broadway’s experience in the A.S. Office of the President as a senior advisor last year, the Nexus is confident in her ability to adequately serve as a leader of the student body.

Broadway’s platform points are mending the fractured campus climate, continuing work on mental health and racial justice she introduced in the Senate and advocating for affordable housing, food security and divestment of student funds from human rights violations occurring in Israel and Palestine. 

Despite her commendable goals, the Nexus holds significant reservations about Broadway’s depth of knowledge regarding the large budget she would preside over, and the lack of tangible steps to accomplish her described initiatives. 

Broadway’s opponents are second-year computer science major Ephraim Shalunov and third-year sociology major Jaz’myne Gates. Of the three candidates, Shalunov has the greatest understanding of A.S. functions as an off-campus senator and first president pro-tempore, and has the most direct experience collaborating with various entities across A.S. and university departments to accomplish specific goals.

“A.S. is the most dynamic piece of funding anywhere on campus. If you’re a faculty, staff member or a student and you want to get money to go toward a project or to solve an issue, the easiest place to do that almost always is Associated Students,” Shalunov said. 

In his campaign, Shalunov is running on a platform of addressing larger systemic issues by leveraging A.S.’s power, seeking to create a bike path between the Interactive Learning Pavilion (ILP) and the library and expand the services of the A.S. Food Bank through a mobile food pantry. These initiatives are deeply impactful and, with a clear understanding of A.S. procedures, the Nexus believes Shalunov could implement them if elected.  

“I think that having a combination of a really deep body of understanding of the policy, which comes from Senate, but also the interpersonal leadership and management to get things done, which comes from being pro-tempore, really uniquely prepares me for the president position,” Shalunov said.

Despite the breadth of institutional knowledge, Shalunov’s interest in A.S. finance and policy left much to be desired regarding student outreach and mending campus climate.

Gates is the Santa Catalina Residence Hall North Tower council president and Black Student Union co-membership development coordinator. Gates’ deep passion for the student community is evident in her leadership and involvement on campus, but she has never attended a Senate meeting and does not have A.S. experience.

“I am really tapped into student life, and I love to serve students and serve my peers and want to continue doing so,” Gates said.

Gates is running on a platform of general expansion of basic needs, providing more resources and increased transparency. She placed an emphasis on diverse programming for students — backed up by her experience in organizing events such as the Afrikan Black Coalition Conference this year — to bring together communities both in and out of A.S. 

While her goals for the campus were in line with much-needed changes, Gates’ focus on community lacked the required knowledge of A.S. to implement her goals. 

The Nexus believes Broadway is a candidate of moderacy that the student body needs in the upcoming year. Discourse on Israel and Palestine on campus, escalating to students demanding to recall A.S. President Veksler, has signaled that constituents see the president as a representative role and want a figure empathetic to their needs. Because of her existing experience with A.S. policy bettering campus climate, Broadway is best equipped to take that role.

The Nexus has witnessed an increase in hostility on campus following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by militant group Hamas, which occurred following decades of territorial and Indigenous struggle between Israel and Palestine. Israel’s military campaigns in Rafah and the Gaza Strip in the months following inspired campus protests and discontent. 

The recent closure of the MultiCultural Center (MCC) following pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist signage during a Feb. 26 gathering prompted the University to temporarily suspend the MCC and its social media thereafter. The signage named A.S. President Tessa Veksler, Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead and other campus figures in its dissent, leading to claims of these signs being threats to the named individuals and further fueling campus tensions. 

When questioned how she would’ve handled the situation as president, Broadway said that conflict resolution should’ve been a sit-down conversation instead of a back-and-forth, and the reason the incident occurred was that one side didn’t feel acknowledged. The Nexus feels this response is lackluster, and neglects the complexity of the situation.

Gates said that Veksler should’ve tried to engage in broader dialogue on the subject and that her response further distanced her from the student body.

Shalunov said the signage was “incredibly irresponsible,” and the University’s closing of the MCC was “unproductive.” His critique of Veksler’s handling of the situation was the most potent of the three candidates, as he stated the position of the president should be nonpartisan by nature and Veksler’s expressions of personal political leanings this year have negated that sentiment. 

“The mandate of Associated Students depends on students feeling represented by us but also feeling like they identify with it, so any divisiveness in expression within the official role is really bad,” Shalunov said. “It was Tessa’s right, for instance, to post whatever she wants on her private Instagram, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect her job performance as president. It definitely absolutely does.”

A petition to recall Veksler was initiated in March and cited “inflammatory rhetoric” stemming from pro-Israel posts on her personal social media account that allegedly brought forth increased division among the student body. The petition garnered 844 signatories but failed to get consensus for a Senate vote for recall.

When asked if Veksler should’ve been recalled, both Gates and Broadway responded affirmatively, seeing the large number of signatures as an indication of a disconnect with the president. Shalunov believed not moving forth with the petition was the best decision for the Senate because of the turnaround with the election, but acknowledged the merit of the movement.

In tackling ambitious goals like the ILP bike path, Shalunov said he aims to strongly represent student interests when negotiating with the University and push back against stonewalling. 

“If your counterparty is lying to you, you need to tell them that you know they’re lying to you, and force them onto a path where they need to be transparent,” Shalunov said.

However, despite his extensive qualifications and concrete platform points, the Nexus believes that Shalunov is ill-suited for the office as a public figure who has already drawn ire from the student community this academic year. The Nexus spoke with an individual who allegedly received harassment from Shalunov when tabling in October and, in March, A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez read out a statement to the Senate on behalf of several students inside and outside of A.S. that alleged the first and second president pro-tempores of harassment, intimidation and suppression of student voices. 

The Nexus cannot, in good faith, endorse a candidate who is the subject of the aforementioned allegations. 

Shalunov described himself as a “reforming force” in A.S., seeking to ameliorate issues on his own judgment, during his interview with the Nexus. One such issue he identified in fall quarter was the overhead expenditures of boards, committees and units (BCUs). He attempted to combine the four environmental BCUs — the Environmental Affairs Board, Bike Committee, Coastal Fund and Environmental Justice Alliance — to reduce costs and communicate with a single entity.

This effort did not resonate with the BCUs, who felt misrepresented by the grouping. Shalunov said the misunderstanding arose because he had not spoken to people on the ground enough.  

“I still think it’s a great idea, but I think what I failed to do is communicate it well and also correctly balance community interest,” Shalunov said. 

The Nexus commends Shalunov for acknowledging this oversight but wishes he provided an alternative approach to communicating with smaller organizations under A.S. He did not mention tangible ways he would prevent this lack of communication from occurring again.

The Nexus acknowledges that the A.S. president position requires a deep understanding of the A.S. Legal Code, legislative processes and proposing policy to administration, all of which were exemplified by Shalunov in greater specificity and knowledge in comparison to Broadway and Gates. However, despite his specificity, he did not show an interest in communicating more directly with students and BCUs under A.S. — demonstrating a lack of prioritization in actively listening to student needs.  

The division on campus calls for a leader who is willing to work with students as an approachable figure rather than one engulfed in existing conflicts.

Broadway has centered her presidential run around outreach into student spaces, to act as a representative that is physically present and trusted by her constituents.

“I think it’s important as an exec to go into [student organization] spaces if they allow us to, and bridge connections with groups that may not be comfortable coming into our spaces themselves and hear their voices,” Broadway said.

Broadway did not describe specific methods of outreach she would implement, and the Nexus hopes she will develop more direct initiatives if elected to office.

Issues that Broadway plans to address and implement during her term, such as mental health equity and racial justice on campus, were introduced as legislation during her time in the Senate and all passed. She authored the Bill Condemning anti-Blackness and established the temporary committee The Black Empowerment Task Force. She additionally authored A Resolution to Support the UC Student Association’s Racial Justice Now Campaign and established a temporary Mental Health Senate Committee.

Broadway’s senatorial efforts showcase her commitment to creating more equitable spaces on campus as more polarizing dialogue pervades the association. 

With mental health, Broadway said she wants to secure shorter wait times for Counseling & Psychological Services and longer-term care. While these issues are typically out of the scope of the Office of the President, Broadway did not describe how she would overcome that barrier. 

Regarding student outreach, Gates said that she would leverage connections made through her on-campus organizing to appoint officers to appropriate positions.

“I can appoint the right representatives to come in and represent each community and their needs, and address them with very creative and diverse perspectives,” Gates said.

The Nexus found Gates’ approach of inclusivity and collaboration to be a fresh perspective to an A.S. that has historically been insular in policy and involved students, and is confident that this passion aligns with what the campus needs following this year’s political climate. 

“Making sure that we do more collaborative efforts to get to know each other and to actually bond and connect will also ensure that the organization will flow better,” Gates said.

However, the Nexus believes Gates’ significant lack of institutional knowledge would hinder her ability to serve as president. Gates voiced a desire to work with other A.S. and campus entities and officers but was unable to name specific executive and non-executive positions she would collaborate with. Gates also demonstrated a lack of knowledge of current projects within the Office of the President and a rudimentary understanding of the A.S. Legal Code and budget. 

The Nexus believes that Gates has the passion and drive to accomplish her goals, but ultimately lacks the knowledge of A.S. for the Nexus to feel confident in endorsing her.

Transparency was one key issue Broadway aligned herself with, stating that she would provide updates to the student body every time she meets with administration. Broadway was vague, however, in describing how she sees herself communicating with administration and on what particular issues, and how that communication would parley to greater transparency. 

When asked what specific university departments she would like to collaborate with during her term, Broadway stated she wanted to work with all of them as equally as possible. This vagueness demonstrates a lack of knowledge on the specific functions and purposes of each department the Nexus hopes Broadway can overcome if elected.

However, Broadway’s knowledge and experience in A.S. supersede the general lack of specificity and tangible goals pervading her campaign. The Nexus hopes that she will conduct extensive outreach and represent her constituents’ needs through deliberate action. Her compassion for her surrounding community demonstrates that she can represent the student community best throughout the next year.