New SPP Senator hopes to engage UCR students with their local government

During the special elections held on Wednesday, Jan. 22, second year Emily Thomas was elected to fill the vacant School of Public Policy (SPP) senator seat for ASUCR with a total of 10 votes.

In an email interview with The Highlander, Thomas wrote that she hopes to engage and inspire students in the SPP and UCR to participate in Riverside’s city government. “I feel students have a unique and awesome power in our government and they need to be involved in our local politics,” wrote Thomas.

During her time as SPP senator, Thomas hopes to create an ASUCR committee for commuters. The goal of the committee will be to build community and connections between commuters and UCR, as well as brainstorm policies and developments that will improve the commuter experience.

Earlier in the school year, Thomas was appointed as the local relations coordinator for ASUCR’s Lobby Corps, where she had constant conversations with Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) about the importance of transparency with the student body. “I am a commuter and I know the trials of coming to campus and getting acquainted with campus culture,” wrote Thomas. She stated that during this time, she felt empowered to hold an accountability meeting and open up communication with TAPS and is currently on the TAPS Advisory committee to advocate on issues pertaining to undergraduate commuters.

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Thomas is also the assistant director of the City Relations Committee for ASUCR. Their purpose is to hold ASUCR officials accountable and promote student engagement in ASUCR, wrote Thomas. She hopes to promote student engagement in local government by hosting events with Riverside city officials and taking students to council meetings.

In March, Thomas and her committees will be hosting Riverside City Council members at UCR and while details are minimal, Thomas says, “It will be a great way for students to come out and speak to representatives about issues they face in the Riverside community and also learn more about city government.”

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