2019 ASUCR Executive Cabinet Debates highlighted major issues facing UCR

On Wednesday, April 10, UCR student candidates debated each other for positions on the ASUCR Executive Cabinet. The debate was held at the HUB Plaza. Candidates tackled issues such as food insecurity, undocumented student resources and funding for Costo Hall resource centers.

The first debate of the afternoon was for vice president of internal affairs. Third-year business major Jocelyn Ortiz debated against third-year statistics major Andy Veliz. Ortiz stressed for more advocacy for basic needs and Costo Hall funding. On the other hand, Veliz pointed out WiFi connection issues and sustainability issues as major issues on campus. Both Ortiz and Feliz have new initiatives to enhance students’ experiences. Ortiz is pushing for a program to help students file taxes, a program to improve students’ health and school thrifting events for basic needs. Veliz’s planned initiative is to host a mental health conference that will inform students about mental health programs on campus.      

Lennin Kuri and Luis Huerta are both second-year political science majors vying to become vice president of external affairs. Both Kuri and Huerta find Costo Hall funding to be a major issue. Kuri accused ASUCR officials of performative politics on Costo Hall funding. Huerta also believes that the Costo Hall funding issue is important but other issues should be addressed for all students. Current organizing director under the external affairs office, Luis Huerta sees basic needs as a human right. Kuri believes that UCR referendums transcend the university. He believes more advocacy should be done on a local and national level.      

Current Outreach Director Carolyn Chang is running unopposed for vice president of finance. An audience member asked Chang about grocery receipts being reimbursed. Chang’s response, “We can ensure that students are not overusing the budget for their own personal use. It is for the organization to do something for the clubs, not for themselves.”  

CHASS Senators Mehvish Ali and Julian Gonzalez are both running for president. Both candidates battled over the amount of funding between R’Gear and R’Pantry. Gonzalez stated that R’Gear has had a long-lasting impact at UCR, but he wishes that ASUCR would be allowed to write a check to R’Pantry to solve food insecurity; according to Gonzalez, ASUCR is not allowed to directly fund the R’Pantry. Ali believes that more funding should be directed to other programs instead of R’Gear. For example, Ali suggests more funding for R’Pantry and providing more visibility to the students. In the debate, moderator and current Highlander Newspaper editor-in-chief Andreas Rauch questioned both candidates about presidential stipends. The presidential stipend per year is $9,900. Both Ali and Gonzalez claim that they are running for president to provide change and not simply for enrichment.

Green Campus Action Vice Chair Olenka Graham Castaneda is running unopposed for GCAP director. Castaneda wants to prioritize more resources for the R’Kitchen: “I would like to focus on basic needs a little bit more. I would love to pump in more resources for the R’kitchen. I want to make sure it is successful and also is zero waste.” Strengthening the recycling program is also another component to Castaneda’s platform.    

Eric E. Calderon and Juandi Riley are running for Transfer/Non-Traditional Director. Juandi Riley, Calderon’s opponent, was not at the debate. Calderon wants to provide transfer students with priority in class registration and offer more resources to non-traditional students.

Two first-year students Luna Sebastian and Farzaneh Talebi Liasi are pursuing the Personnel Director position. Sebastian states she has learned a lot from the current personnel director Nataly Morales, however, Sebastian views the personnel director position can be more efficient in performing tasks. Liasi wants to extend resources for undocumented students and Cal Grant funding. Both Sebastian and Liasi believe that directly listening to students’ concerns can better aid in solving campus problems.   

The voting period will last between April 22 through April 26. UCR students can either vote online or at a specific polling location.  

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