UCR is giving students the opportunity to do something that we all attend college for: To make a difference for the future.
While it may not seem as such, the ASUCR elections have the potential to change the makeup of our school, representing the student body as it moves forward into the 2015-2016 school year, guiding us toward what we hope will be a beneficial series of changes.
As the last few weeks wrap up neatly into this year’s election, it would behoove us not to forget the campaign promises that we have heard and the taglines of candidates hoping to leave their marks. It is the duty of UCR students as voters to ensure that this mark is a positive one, keeping what we hold most dear as our top priorities. Together, as a voting public and our representatives, we will either make our school a campus that all of our 21,000 students can attend in comfort, or we will have to wait until the next series of elections to try again.
It is with this in mind that the Highlander has endorsed those candidates who can provide UCR with the careful touch that it will need in the coming years of possible drought, increased tuition and an administration that seems to be increasingly apathetic. Additionally, we have looked at the referendums that will be on the ballot and done our best to evaluate those which will change campus for the better.
The Highlander’s hope is that these recommendations, coupled with the voting power that all of us hold, will lead UCR to a more fruitful future. Each vote is a heavy responsibility that we all must accept, and with those votes we have the power to affect change in UCR. Now all we have to do is take it.
President: Devin Plazo
As the ASUCR president effectively serves to represent the will of the people in a singular voice, it seems best for the voice to come from somebody who so clearly speaks for the people around her. Devin Plazo has shown us in the debates that her vision for ASUCR is clear, and that she already has solid ideas for what she hopes to accomplish should she take office. Transparency as the theme for this year’s elections, she also seems to have the most genuine and transparent goals for the position of ASUCR president, giving her answers to questions enthusiastically and directly. Her experience as a liaison between the executive and legislative branches of ASUCR is also invaluable, as she would be expected to act as liaison to the administration on behalf of students. That same representation could only be put to good use with Plazo’s previous involvement in representing the student body, genuine affability and investment in student-led, student-oriented initiatives like ASUCR’s food pantry. There is no doubt that she will keep student interests at heart when lobbying administration.
Executive Vice President: Taylor Valmores
As a representative of the executive branch working closest with the senate, it is important for this position to be filled by somebody who is levelheaded and unlikely to lose their composure in heated discussions. It is for this reason that Taylor Valmores best fits the bill of what ASUCR needs in an Executive Vice President. The genuine desire to see change in the way groups like transfer students are represented in UCR can lead to great strides in making UCR a more inclusive and diverse campus, especially for those who are considered nontraditional students. Additionally, as he has yet to hold office in ASUCR, this could lead to a new perspective on previously trodden ground, opening both up the executive branch and the senate to new angles on old issues.
Vice President of Internal Affairs: Valeria Allende
Valeria Allende represents a breath of fresh air that ASUCR can only benefit from in her potential capacity as the Vice President of Internal Affairs. With little previous allegiances to the old guard at ASUCR, Allende presents the student body with a possibility to look at new ways of improving campus that the previous regime may not have considered. She also showed a strong showing for herself during her interview, showing us all that her commitment to improve the UCR campus goes beyond just regurgitating the party line. Considering this, it isn’t hard to say that Allende would be a positive choice of candidate for the coming year.
Vice President of External Affairs: Summer Shafer
The position of Vice President of External Affairs carries with it a need to be active as a part of the greater student body, reaching out to UCR’s students and surroundings. In this aspect, Summer Shafer outshines her competition. Having successfully led protests on campus, and representing herself as a genuine person, she has shown herself to be an exceptionally capable candidate, and one who represents everything that ASUCR should stand for. Shafer has shown herself to be forceful, though not necessarily confrontational, which should be noted as an impressive skill amid a climate where even the UC President cannot help but court confrontation wherever she goes.
Marketing and Promotions Director: Hector Huerta
ASUCR is deeply integral in making different organizations and causes on campus visible. However, they are also involved in generating awareness about themselves and may need more help in doing so. We believe that Hector Huerta is the solution to the problem of ASUCR’s visibility around campus. With connections in a multitude of organizations, as well as the clear vision he gave during the director debates, Huerta showed that he is undoubtedly the best candidate for the job, and would go on to improve the levels of awareness toward ASUCR throughout the whole of the campus.
Outreach Director: Beatriz Bermudez
As Outreach Director, the proper candidate must possess the enthusiasm and drive to make UCR more inclusive, and be dedicated to making our campus as desirable and amicable as possible. In these regards, Beatriz Bermudez is the only choice voters should consider when the time comes for their electoral participation. Bermudez possesses an enthusiasm that permeated both her interview and the debates; an aspect necessary to drum up excitement about our campus that many incoming students sorely lack. Her status as a transfer student may also go a long way in promoting transfer-student programs that don’t currently exist, leading to more inclusivity on campus.
Personnel Director: Chris Castorena
Excelling in the debates and showing that he really does know what is involved in keeping ASUCR staffed with interested and qualified individuals, Chris Castorena is a great choice for ASUCR’s Personnel Director. In addition to having the connections with his previous positions in other groups on campus to keep people involved with ASUCR, Castorena has a clear vision as to the level of investment that is needed at all times of the year. Castorena has shown himself a capable individual, and will ensure that all of the committees on campus are excellently staffed.
The ASUCR senate is the bread and butter of every decision that comes out of ASUCR. Without the efforts of the legislative branch, the voices for which a school-based government prides itself in representing would be silenced, and as such, it is important that the right voices are chosen to speak for us. The Highlander has chosen to support these candidates because they represent all the positive values for which we hope the school to become known. Whether it is the fire in their stomachs that will drive them to create a more inviting and impressionistic college experience, or the genuine way in which they speak about their desires to fix the school’s problems, these candidates have shown themselves to be the best choices for the ASUCR senate.
CHASS Senators: Arman Azedi, Erica Eden, Bani Ghai, Arturo Gomez, Hernan Martinez, Grant Nakaoka, Johnson Pham, Arjan Sindhu, Corey Willis, Hari Yim
CNAS Senators: Roshan Akula, Robert Kotonya, Nevin Perera, Katherine Tatley
BCOE Senators: Erin Sunga, Ryan Torrento
Highlander Empowerment Referendum: Yes
UCR prides itself on diversity, opening up its halls and lawns to all comers and attempting to make a more amenable future. As such it falls upon all of us as current students to ensure that UCR remains the most diverse UC campus, and approve of the Highlander Empowerment Referendum. This vote will add a quarterly $14 fee to students, allotting $1.50 to each of the seven campus diversity departments, and giving the remaining $3.50 to scholarship funds. While this may seem excessive in the face of almost assured tuition rise, it falls upon us as the ones who will pay this fee to ensure that UCR backs up its claim to diversity by funding the departments that host each event dedicated to diversity. Then UCR really will be the most diverse campus, not only in student attendance, but in spirit as well.
CALPIRG Initiative: No
Despite our support of the Highlander Empowerment Referendum, the Highlander is unable to bring itself to support the CALPIRG Initiative. Although we agree that CALPIRG itself is an organization that has benefitted students in many ways and the UCR chapter is run by students, it is just one of over 400 other registered student organizations. Supporting it would set the precedent of allotting funds to organizations all over campus, or else would be tantamount to giving CALPIRG special treatment. Even considering CALPIRG’s efforts to make textbooks affordable and convert UCR to a more energy-efficient campus, we must avoid backing private institutions, even nonprofits, with public funds. It falls upon us to understand that funding $2.50 per student would mean greater support for a private group than for our own Resource Center departments, especially when considering that this interest group may not have interests that all of the campus agrees with.
Constitutional Amendment No. 1: Yes
Constitutional Amendment No. 1 contains a plethora of constitutional changes, ranging from grammatical errors, to the way in which the Elections Director and Vice President of Finance are appointed to their positions. This amendment will allow the Elections Director and the Vice President of Finance to be appointed by the joint approval of the ASUCR judicial branch and the senate. Doing this will not only allow for greater ease of appointment, but will ensure a more nonpartisan decision. Amendment No. 1 would also ensure that vacant senate positions are filled by candidates from the same college as those who previously held them, ensuring that the same interests of those students who are proportionally represented continue to be so. Finally, the process of removing ASUCR members from office would become streamlined, allowing for more accountability and transparency among each branch.
Constitutional Amendment No. 2: Yes
The Constitutional Amendment No. 2 would add a nontraditional/transfer student director position to ASUCR, who would be elected by the students to focus on issues affecting nontraditional and transfer students. Historically, transfer and nontraditional students have not been represented well on ASUCR — this, despite transfer students making up 20 percent of admitted students every year. In addition, there are numerous challenges that transfer and nontraditional students uniquely face, such as being able to access research resources and acclimating to campus culture in a scant two years. The addition of this student-run position will ensure that nontraditional students receive the same representation on ASUCR that other undergraduates receive. Although there is some work to be done on the bylaws of the position, it is important right now that the position get a foot in the door to begin serving students. The Highlander endorses a yes vote on this referendum.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to CALPIRG as not student-run. CALPIRG is primarily governed by a student-run governing board. The Highlander regrets the error. The definition of CALPIRG has also been changed from “special interest” to “interest”.