Sustainability initiatives, outreach and divestment were just some of the talking points discussed at the executive cabinet (ECAB) debates this past Friday. Moderated by the Highlander’s managing editor, Colin Markovich, the debates featured seven ECAB hopefuls, all of whom presented their ideas and goals for the campus in front of dozens of UCR students at the HUB Plaza.
Fernando Echeverria from the [YOUR]SIDE party and Mark Brown from the Vox Populi party — who are both currently running for the position of vice president of internal affairs — kicked off the event. ABC candidate Andrea Parra had a schedule conflict but showed up later for the Q-and-A portion.
Echeverria, who currently serves as one of the 10 CHASS senators at ASUCR, started by presenting his ideas for green initiatives. “It’s so essential to have a sustainable UC … and one thing I want to specifically work on is getting rid of plastic bag waste,” he said. He went on to present other plans he has including starting an event called R’Hour where organizations can interact with each other at the Bell Tower from noon to 1 p.m.
In contrast, one of Brown’s main focuses was on increasing “the perception administrators have of student leaders.” Aside from department outreach, Brown also presented his ideas to involve commuters more on campus and creating more student involvement in committees such as the Green Campus Action Plan committee.
Another round of debates was held between one candidate from [YOUR]SIDE, Abraham Galvan, and another from the [ABC] party, Breana Ross, for the vice president of external affairs seat.
As a former undocumented student and current CHASS senator, Galvan vowed to prioritize and organize around student issues that he felt needed the most attention. Referring to the affirmative action bill SCA 5, Galvan questioned the lack of political mobilization when the bill failed to make it on the November ballot. “What about protecting the things that make our school so important? What about protecting the diversity and ensuring that there’s access and opportunity for all of our students?” he said.
Ross also said that campus diversity has attributed to both the success of UCR and its gender and ethnic student centers. As a key figure in leading a Riverside housing protest back in March, Ross vowed to rally behind issues most pertinent to the student body by making tangible changes through the act of lobbying and advocacy. “It’s not based on what I want, it’s based on what the students want,” she said.
Both Galvan and Ross desire to work across the aisle to increase communication and cooperation among the three branches of ASUCR.
In the latter end of the debate, [YOUR]SIDE party member Michael Ervin took to the stage with Vox Populi party member Nayeli Figueroa for the position of Executive Vice President (EVP). Both Ervin and Figueroa are current CHASS senators and the third VPEA candidate and ABC party member, David Santillan, could not make the debates due to a family emergency.
Defining his last three years as ones of activism, Ervin held specific goals to expand the public forum period which he says, is currently “limited to 12 minutes” during the ASUCR senate meetings. Another initiative Ervin had was to create a pool of funds for senators to “encourage collaboration and outreach,” which was a discussion item previously touched upon by current EVP Armando Saldana.
As a Coachella Valley native, Figueroa desired to make internal changes and unity within the senate. “Make it required for (senators) to go to basketball games … housing (and) club events to voice change,” were some of the suggestions Figueroa offered.
Markovich also brought up a resolution that asks UCR to divest from companies that allegedly profit from apartheid in Israel, which was a notoriously controversial topic throughout the senate over the years and was held under a secret ballot vote — a decision the EVP has the power to make, according to the ASUCR constitution.
Both Figueroa and Ervin appeared critical of the meeting on divestment, in which ASUCR members divided attendees to “pro” and “anti” sides within a limited room capacity. If elected as EVP, Figueroa and Ervin both leaned toward the likelihood of holding an open ballot vote divestment in the future, if a divestment resolution were to arise.