Editorial: The Highlander’s ASUCR Endorsements

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Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER

This week, UCR students will choose their future.

Elections to select those who will make up the 2014-2015 ASUCR senate are now underway. Over 60 candidates are running for eight positions. Three parties have jockeyed for votes, met with students and proclaimed platforms. It all comes down to five days of voting, where 18,000 undergraduate students have the power to bring those qualified into office. With it, students can affect the events UCR holds, the people who come to UCR, and the vision UCR has for the future.

With that in mind, the Highlander has gone through every candidate and scoured every referendum to determine who and what will bring the most benefit to UCR. The following is our list of endorsements, for both candidates and referendums. Each candidate we have endorsed has shown dedication, experience and uncanny abilities to cut through red tape to achieve the best results for UCR students. Referendums, too, have a large impact on the services available to the student body, so we have made endorsements for those that promise to elevate the campus community to a higher level.

Elections matter. New visions are put into place and old ones swept away. We as students have power over which ones are kept and which are thrown out the door. It’s a great power — and an enormous responsibility. So learn about the candidates and make an informed decision. The power is in our hands. Let’s choose wisely.

President: Armando Saldana

The ASUCR president is invested with a great degree of power. He or she delivers reports to the senate and generally sets ASUCR’s agenda. But the president is also the face of ASUCR, serving as the liaison between students and the UCR administration, as well as the rest of the University of California. Students must choose the candidate who knows ASUCR in and out and who is best able to communicate the student perspective to administrators and legislators. The only candidate who can manage that balancing act is Armando Saldana. Saldana has proven himself as a knowledgeable candidate, serving for two consecutive years in the thankless task of executive vice president, maintaining order during meetings and meeting with all sides to negotiate an appropriate solution. Working on behalf of students doesn’t mean burning every bridge in sight. Based on his track record, Saldana will keep student interests at heart while maintaining a working relationship with the administration.

Executive Vice President: Michael Ervin

According to the ASUCR constitution, the executive vice president “shall be responsible for and coordinate the functions of the senate.” For that role, current CHASS Senator and [YOUR]SIDE candidate Michael Ervin seems prepared. With prior experience in ASUCR, he will have the skillset and knowledge to focus on his goals of efficiency and transparency during his tenure. The ability to build bridges and find a path forward everybody can accept is a crucial skill for the position, and during the divestment debates, Ervin proved his willingness to achieve compromise and ensure that all student voices are heard by co-sponsoring both the pro- and anti-divestment resolutions. Ervin will provide a steady hand at the helm of ASUCR and ensure that it moves effectively to achieve its goals.

Vice President of Internal Affairs: Fernando Echeverria

Although all candidates have enthusiasm for UCR, CHASS Senator Fernando Echeverria of [YOUR]SIDE stands above the rest. Echeverria has shown a clear understanding of the diversity and empowerment UCR stands for. Most importantly, he has provided a set of ideas he wants to enact while in office that will build a campus identity and increase its sustainability, including creating a commuter lounge and eliminating plastic bags. Echeverria has proven himself to be a hard-working and honest leader by expanding ties with the diversity organizations on campus through the creation of a diversity council and will continue that tradition in a new capacity as Vice President of Internal Affairs.

Vice President of External Affairs: Breana Ross

Both candidates running for this position, Abraham Galvan and Breana Ross, are preeminently qualified and intensely passionate for the position of Vice President of External Affairs. But in the end, ABC’s Breana Ross is the one capable of bringing a unique vision to UCR. To counter a proposed housing moratorium that discriminates against students, Ross organized a 100-student protest that took place in the belly of the beast: downtown city hall. She has further participated in other local events during her tenure as ASUCR’s local affairs liaison. Poised, energetic and communicative, Ross has the experience to know how to achieve the best results, whether that’s extending a hand in friendship or doing battle on behalf of UCR students.

Disclosure: Breana Ross works for the Highlander as an advertising representative.

Personnel Director: Bryan Burgoon

The personnel director is charged with ensuring qualified candidates are selected for ASUCR positions, which takes a discerning and experienced mind. Bryan Burgoon has the experience required for the job, being heavily involved on campus, including leadership as residential adviser. Burgoon has also come to the position prepared, expressing a willingness to tackle problems proactively and pledging to establish new committees to address areas of concern for students.

Outreach Director: Jessica Urquidez

The position of outreach director is about ensuring that all students feel involved and that high school students are exposed to the benefits a college degree can bring. Jessica Urquidez of [YOUR]SIDE has those priorities in order. In her interview, she showed a true knowledge of the importance of holding elective office: listening to the students. “It’s one thing to explain your platform and explain the changes you want to make. But it’s another thing to listen to the students and hear what changes they feel are important.” She is personable, heartfelt and approachable, and has shown engagement by attending ASUCR meetings on a regular basis — all qualities necessary for a great outreach director.

Marketing and Promotions Director: Dayo Adeleke

ASUCR does a lot of important things for campus, ranging from advocating for student needs to the UC to holding events that boost campus morale. So it’s disheartening that so few students know about ASUCR and what it does — some parts of ASUCR’s website haven’t been updated in over two years. It’s time for a change. Dayo Adeleke promises to take a holistic approach to marketing, including both social media and hands-on outreach, to spread the word about what ASUCR does. In addition, he has advocated for measuring event turnout, a key metric through which ASUCR can judge success. By electing Adeleke, the students and ASUCR will be in closer communication than ever before.

Senators

This year, students have more choice than ever before when electing their ASUCR senators, with nearly 50 candidates vying to be your voice in UCR’s government. Each candidate has different qualifications and different focuses, and that’s to be expected in such a diverse campus. But some candidates are more qualified than others, have more concrete plans for the future of UCR and have expressed more dedication to the job than others. The 16 candidates below — 10 CHASS, four CNAS and two BCOE — have proven themselves to tower above the rest in dedication, ideas, pragmatism and overall candidate quality. Each is a worthy addition to the ASUCR senate chambers and will do the best job channeling the needs and desires of their constituents into concrete action.

CHASS Senators: Reem Blaik, Trelynd Bowles, Akeem Brown, Deirdre Hackleman, Jackie Jacoby, Colette King, Delaynie Koenig, Tina Matar, Devin Plazo, Summer Shafer.

CNAS Senators: Nevin Perera, Pricilla Perey, Herman Sangha, Ken Wang.

BCOE Senators: Johny Nguyen, Jason Ramirez.

Disclosure: Colette King has worked for the Highlander as Opinions Editor.

YES on the Highlander Empowerment Referendum

UCR is a diverse campus, home to people with an array of perspectives and experiences as diverse as the number of fish in the ocean. Chicano Student Programs has a 40-year history with the campus. When it first opened in 1993, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center became the first professionally staffed center to focus on LGBT students in the entire state of California. UCR has a storied history of diversity, and passing this referendum will allow UCR to continue this legacy. Already, these resource centers provide advice for first-time college students, events for the campus population and a home for students adrift since leaving for college. At first glance, $14.00 may seem like a lot. But $3.50 of that will go to student scholarships, leaving only $1.50 for each of the seven resource centers. UCR students will get their investment back with interest to boot, in the form of events for the UCR public and scholarship funds for the disadvantaged. Every penny goes back into the UCR community, which is why the Highlander enthusiastically supports the Highlander Empowerment Referendum.

YES on the GCAP Referendum

The Highlander endorses the GCAP referendum wholeheartedly because GCAP has arguably been one of the most successful student-initiated programs UCR students have ever enacted. A mobile solar-powered generator and solar benches are just two of the products GCAP funds have brought to campus, both of which benefit students by providing an easy-to-access form of electricity. In addition, it creates numerous campus internships, providing students with organizing experience, as well as grants for clubs striving to improve the sustainability of the campus. All this is brought about for only $2.50 — less than a meal at Latitude. Approving this referendum does not impose an additional fee; it only continues the fee we already pay to make UCR the most sustainable campus possible. Voting for the GCAP referendum will result in only benefits for UCR: more jobs, more money for student organizations and more solar power.

YES on the Associated Students Fee Referendum

Sometimes the amount of effort ASUCR puts in to achieve a better campus for the students goes unappreciated. But ASUCR has brought a wealth of benefits to UCR, beginning with conversations about making class registration easier for students (a one-unit cap increase was implemented last quarter) and alleviating the stress of finals week by providing finals survival kits. Even the immensely popular Food Truck Festival last week came into existence almost solely due to the sheer force of will of ASUCR senators. That said, there is much room for improvement. The Associated Students Fee Referendum allows ASUCR to keep the Bear’s Den open for clubs, enact 24-hour library hours during finals week and continue the new tradition of the annual Food Truck Festival. Each would benefit the campus and help UCR become the best university it can be. Some may argue that ASUCR has misused funds in the past, such as one instance when senators departed from a student-funded lobbying trip early. And misadventures like that are possible in any agency. However, as elected officials, they are responsible to us, the students. If ASUCR decides to mismanage its funds, we have the authority to call them out. So with a cautious eye, the Highlander endorses the Associated Students Fee Referendum.

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