The Daily Nexus endorses third-year history of public policy and law major Owen Meyers for External Vice President of Local Affairs. 

The Nexus endorses Owen Meyers for the 2024-25 External Vice President for Local Affairs. Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus.

The Executive Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) position and its office act as a liaison between Associated Students and Isla Vista governmental agencies, as well as the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. They also serve to represent the campus student body in relation to local affairs and address larger systemic issues in Isla Vista. 

The Nexus believes that Meyers’ experience with UC in Isla Vista (UCIV), his comprehensive plans for the position, and his knowledge and involvement with local county entities make him the best fit for the position over his opponent, third-year political science major and Off-Campus Senator Renee Faulk. 

“The EVPLA is, to me, a representation of community and student wants and needs and someone who’s able to address those needs on a local level for students,” Meyers said.

Faulk arrived 30 minutes late to her 60-minute interview, impeding the Nexus from sufficiently asking her all of the questions that were posed to Meyers. Regardless, the Nexus acknowledges that Faulk’s platform for educating tenants on their rights and law enforcement education toward restorative justice reflect the need to address Isla Vista’s larger issues. However, Faulk did not expand upon these points or demonstrate adequate knowledge of local representatives and governmental actions of Isla Vista. 

Meyers is running on a platform to expand UCIV as an alternative, non-police entity, extend the Pardall Center hours and increase resources and build up community library services in Isla Vista. 

Meyers currently serves as the chair of UCIV, in which he regularly meets with the EVPLA office. He is also a student assistant at the Pardall Center. As part of UCIV, he has attended important meetings with county stakeholders to advocate for their needs and spread the message of the organization. The Nexus has little doubt that Meyers is committed to serving the local community of Isla Vista and acting as a bridge between students and local entities.

“Working on the tent and seeing what an impact it had on people, it really made me see what impact I could possibly have on the community through UCIV’s expansion and being able to have more stations throughout the community,” Meyers said.

Faulk has served as a senator for two academic terms and worked within the Senate’s internal affairs committee, which she said has given her a “pretty good grasp of A.S. affairs.” 

“I was appointed to be the chair of the committee because there wasn’t a lot of other options. I wanted to be on the basic needs committee. But I think from the beginning, my campaign points when I first ran as a senator were based on food security and trying to make it easier for students to afford living in Isla Vista,” Faulk said. 

While the Nexus acknowledges that Faulk’s involvement in Senate has informed her on the internal affairs of A.S., she showcased little experience and knowledge of local affairs, which is the primary jurisdiction of the EVPLA role. 

While Faulk has experience working within Senate, Meyers has a better grasp on external affairs. Faulk did not have a comprehensive grasp of the local government entities like the I.V. Community Services District (IVCSD)  when prompted — except for District Supervisor Laura Capps from interacting with her in a Senatorial capacity — and has not attended a single IVCSD meeting. Meyers has attended three I.V. Recreations & Park District (IVRPD) meetings, several IVCSD meetings, an I.V. Safe meeting and an I.V. Community Network meeting. Additionally, he’s presented at an IVRPD meeting and worked with the IVRPD in a contractual capacity.

Meyers is knowledgeable about issues of Isla Vista including cliff safety and over policing. He discussed his disappointment with “overwhelming” police responses to alcohol poisoning medical calls, something he witnessed firsthand while working at UCIV tents.

“They send a group of a dozen officers to the location and it seems incredibly excessive. And I think that increases tensions because why are you sending so many armed officials to meet with a student who needs medical services? It just seems completely excessive and I think it is just very negligent of the police in that case,” Meyers said.

He also critiqued a part of Capps’ eight-step cliff safety plan that advocates for increasing the number of police responding to bluff safety events, recommending instead that medical services alone should respond to those calls. Faulk acknowledged the importance of mutual information and education in regards to the cliff safety plan, but gave little critique on what could be improved upon. 

For his plan for UCIV, Meyers wants to expand the number of staffers, resources and tents, specifically in the fraternity quad and near San Joaquin or Santa Catalina Hall. 

For the Pardall Center, he wants to hire more Isla Vista Tenants Union caseworkers, establish a basic needs vending machine and meal kits and create space for more cultural events and meetings for cultural organizations. The last point, he said, is rooted in the temporary suspension of the MultiCultural Center following a Feb. 26 gathering, saying it speaks to a lack of local safe spaces for marginalized communities. The Nexus believes this evaluation speaks to Meyers’ accurate understanding of marginalized communities on campus. 

“The closing of the MCC was a large example of how the university does not necessarily have student needs at heart and the fact that they were willing to silence marginalized voices in that manner was not only negligent but also just completely counterproductive and very sad to see,” Meyers said. “And I think that’s why as EVPLA I would work towards creating a new safe space and … an entity that can support student organizations in a similar way to the MCC.”

Among the work of the current EVPLA, fourth-year psychology and brain sciences major Osaze Osayande, Meyers said he’d continue the initiatives of the cliff fatality memorial project which began in the fall quarter but faced delays, the usage of town halls, UCIV and community services events. 

In contrast, when asked how Faulk will continue the efforts of the current office, she said she wants to “encourage the community to be involved in student government efforts.” 

All of Meyer’s platform points were grounded and feasible, but often revolved back to UCIV and the Pardall Center. While these entities of Isla Vista are vital to the affairs of the college town, the Nexus hopes Meyers will expand on the current local programming and initiatives, as well as upkeep the broader responsibilities of the EVPLA position. 

On the other hand, Faulk did not have appropriate platform points for an EVPLA and grossly misinterpreted the role’s duties in her interview. With a platform point to increase awareness of the UC’s investment in Blackstone, which doesn’t own any residences in Isla Vista, Faulk misattributed the EVPLA’s scope of responsibility which lies within the Isla Vista community. 

Furthermore, Faulk acknowledged that she is “less qualified in terms of experience” in comparison to Meyers, referencing his experience as UCIV chair. Although the Nexus found her grasp on campus climate and student concerns with Senate to be adequate, alongside her experience with funding and budgeting as a Senator, these experiences do not qualify Faulk for a role that’s positioned for external, local affairs.

The Nexus believes Owen Meyers is the best-suited candidate for this position coming in with applicable skills and experience to execute a successful tenure as the 2024-25 EVPLA. 

“I understand that assuming this role, I’m taking on a big responsibility, so it is necessary to incentivize and prioritize things that could help students in this role,” Meyers said.