The election of six new ASUCD senators was announced at Friday’s Aggie Pride Rally.
Two candidates were elected from each slate, along with two independents: SMART slate candidates Alyson Sagala and Armando Figueroa, NOW slate candidates Felicia Ong and Tal Topf and independent candidates Liam Burke and Maxwell Kappes.
Sagala, a fourth-year political science and communication major said one of this election’s successes was the voter turnout.
“More so than winning, I’m just so excited that there was such a big turnout, because to me that just shows that the student body does care about what’s happening on our campus, how their money is being used and what the student government is doing,” she said.
Over the course of three days, 4,963 students voted. Of these voters, 1,994 selected a NOW candidate as their top choice, 1,799 voted for a SMART candidate and 1,170 chose an independent candidate as their number one choice.
Ong, a second year political science and communication double major, ran with the NOW slate, which emphasizes giving a voice to students and promoting sustainability on campus. After the announcement of the election results, Ong said she looks forward to getting started as a senator.
“I’m really overwhelmed right now,” Ong said. “I’m really excited. I’m ready to serve and fight for what I believe in.”
Figueroa, a fourth-year Chicana/o studies major, said his first item of business would be addressing one of the major SMART campaign objectives by advocating for underrepresented groups at UC Davis. The SMART slate aims to support campus-wide social justice and students’ rights.
“I’m going to create more resources for AB 540 students [and] the undocumented students that do not belong to AB 540 criteria,” Figueroa said. “That’s really important for me right now because they are going to be able to apply for financial aid starting this winter.”
AB 540 is a California state law that allows qualified undocumented students to pay in-state tuition as opposed to non-resident tuition for public colleges and universities.
“The ability to mobilize a community just shows how much more heart there is in that than there is in resources and money,” Figueroa said. “If I didn’t win I would still continue the work that I do, and you’d still see me in the spaces that I am in.”
Figueroa is the political chair of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, and received the UC Davis Silver Volunteer Service Award in 2011.
Burke, a second-year political science major, ran on an independent platform and is interested in implementing mid-quarter course evaluations in order to allow time for instructors to adjust to student feedback. He has also begun work on his second platform, Greeks Go Green, focused on eco-friendly programs within the Greek system.
“What I want to do is encourage more recycling and composting in fraternity and sorority housing,” Burke said. “I’ve talked to the chair of the Environmental Policy and Planning Commission and I’m going to set up meetings with different sustainability chairs in different houses to see what programs already exist that could be incorporated into a larger system.”
Senate candidate Kirby Araullo, who ran with SMART, said that although he was not elected, he is happy that two SMART candidates were.
“This year will be better than last year. I’m ready to finally sleep now,” he said.
Former senator and current chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission Emmanuel Diaz-Ordaz said that he hopes that the new senators will bring a better atmosphere to the table.
“I think for me what’s more important than their platforms is how they’re going to vote and the relationships they’re going to make at the table,” Diaz-Ordaz said. “The relationships now aren’t very friendly and it’s a little toxic to be there, so I’m hoping that this new table will be friendlier toward each other and will think critically about issues.”
According to former senator Justin Goss, the equal representation of the slates and independent candidates at the table will also lead to more constructive disagreement.
“Two-two-two — it could not have come out any better in my opinion, because while the senate sometimes revolves around and around in a circle in terms of discussion, disagreement makes for better policy,” Goss said. “That’s one of the hang-ups of democracy; it’s slow, it’s painful and it’s arduous … We see it time and time again in ASUCD that we have done better because we have divided tables, so this is good.”
More information on the election results can be found at the ASUCD Elections website.
JOANNA JAROSZEWSKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.