Senate candidates discuss platforms, goals for their prospective terms
As an international student, first-year computer science major and independent senatorial candidate Zheng Xu wants to incorporate both international and domestic student voices as a way to execute change and implement goals.
“I want to help students and I want the students’ voices to be heard,” Zheng said. “I want Davis to be a really good place for students — UC Davis deserves to be that place.”
As a member of the UC Davis Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), Zheng’s platforms rely heavily on helping to bridge the gap between the international student population and UC Davis. He hopes to serve as a mouthpiece for those students by setting up a club and other channels for international students to learn more about their fellow Aggies.
If elected, Zheng plans to dedicate an entire week of the academic year to Asian and Eastern studies celebration at UC Davis.
“I want to make UC Davis a unique school,” Zheng said. “I want to make [our school] one of a kind [and] I think I can impact more people.”
As former publicity director in ASUCD’s Office of Advocacy and Student Representation, second-year political science major and independent senatorial candidate Josh Dalavai has a few very specific goals for his prospective term.
“I’m running primarily on a police-community relationship platform,” Dalavai said. “What that entails is ensuring that the UC Davis Police Department and the Davis […] Police Department are invested in the community and that the community is able to channel their concerns […] in a relatively accessible way.”
Dalavai plans to help this relationship in various ways, including promotion of a series of forums for the community to interact with Davis police officers. Other platforms he hopes to accomplish are increased graduate school preparatory resources in the library, and civic engagement and ASUCD transparency — to make ASUCD more accessible to UC Davis students.
“I believe that the title of senator gives the capacity and agency to do a lot of things you couldn’t otherwise,” Dalavai said. “It’s a great medium for connecting to administrators, community organizer and campus leaders throughout various organizations and groups.”
As an involved member of Greek life, a writer for the Davis Political Review, a volunteer for Davis’s Sam Len Hillel House and a tour guide, fourth-year international relations and political science double major and Independent senatorial candidate Mikaela Tenner feels she will be able to help improve ASUCD’s productivity.
“I do have a lot of experience in ASUCD,” Tenner said. “I’ve been on it for three years in the executive branches and the judicial branches. I really have an understanding of the way it functions.”
Tenner’s platforms include a year-long project, a half-year project and several shorter ones. She hopes to expand mental health resources with her longest project, which aims to add peer counseling groups and expand mental health resources. She also plans to make Safeboats fundraising a more collaborative effort between both the Greek system and ASUCD, similar to how it was before 2013.
Her shorter goals involve adding WiFi to the ARC and some Schedule Builder changes, such as sending out warning emails on the 20-day drop deadline and the ten-day drop deadline, as well as appointment reminders to help students avoid missing their registration times.
“It has concerned me in the past three years [that ASUCD’s] productivity has declined,” Tenner said. “I’ve looked at actual statistics and there’s been a 60 percent drop in resolution. Having been a part of ASUCD for so long, this kind of knowledge will help me get the productivity up and be able to get things done.”
Fourth-year political science major and SMARTER senatorial candidate David Belcher wants to improve the lives of UC Davis students, which is what he believes the primary function of student government should be.
“I’ve been here a long time, [and] I know what students really care about,” Belcher said. “I think what is most measurable and has a direct impact is small things that add up to a cumulative positive impact such as more outlets in the library, more hammocks on the quad, things that are accomplishable.”
With his involvement in Mock Trial, ASUCD court, Davis College Republicans (DCR) and swim club, Belcher believes his experience can help execute reform of the Club Finance Council (CFC), as well as his smaller, “more accomplishable” goals.
“I’ve been involved with ASUCD since fall quarter of my freshman year,” Belcher said. “I worked in legislative branch as assistant to senator, I’ve worked in the court for a few years — I’ve been around ASUCD so I think I can get things done.”
As a member of Model United Nations and the Pre-Law Association, second-year economics major and independent senatorial candidate Tiffany Jiang believes her experience will serve to improve ASUCD policy.
“I’m really good at communicating with students and professional organizations, and I believe I can be a really good medium,” Jiang said. “I want to run for senate to increase voter turnout and to involve students on campus.”
Jiang hopes to increase campus engagement by collaborating with OrgSync in order to create a website or application that will connect students to clubs and organizations. She also aims to create better access to resources for immigrant, low-income, undocumented and first generation college students, and implement “Picnics with Professors” to improve relations between students and professors.
A few of her smaller platforms include improving bike safety on campus, creating a “Frosh Week” for UC Davis and working with the Greek community, clubs and students to raise awareness about sexual assault.
“I want to be an ASUCD senator because I believe [with] my experience and my personality — I’m someone that’s super involved and super insistent,” Jiang said. “I think that I’m really good with coming up with ideas and really good at making sure I follow through with them.”
Third-year managerial economics major and Based senatorial candidate Parteek Singh believes that being a senator would increase resources for the goals that he has already been working to accomplish.
“[Being a senator would] give me more legitimacy,” Singh said. “Other organizations take you more seriously as a senator than as a student.”
Singh, who is contemplating on staying an extra year at UC Davis to double major in international relations, is the current president for the Council for International Development (CID) and a member of ASUCD Business and Finance Commission, as well as being a part of the Corporate Budget Council (CFC) and serving multiple senators in the past.
Singh’s main goal includes increasing resources for sexual health and clubs. He plans to implement a Plan B vending machine on campus, conduct more free STI testing for students and have a sexual assault awareness seminar on campus. He also wants to implement a “clubs week” at student housing buildings to create more “intimate situations” for clubs and students.
“[I want to] build a relationship with clubs and ASUCD, [and] increase and expand that,” Singh said. “ASUCD could do a lot more outreach via clubs and clubs could benefit from ASUCD because of the resources.”
Third-year political science and gender, sexuality and women’s studies double major and Based senatorial candidate Georgia Savage has two main platforms in mind for her prospective term.
“My main platforms are, first of all, sexual assault and sexual violence prevention, [and also to increase] mental health resources,” Savage said. “I really want [my platforms] to be achievable [because] I know that in the last five years there’s been significant cutbacks, specifically from ASUCD.”
As legislative director for the Office of Advocacy and Student Representation, Peace Corps ambassador and chair of the Campus Climate Response Team (CCRT) with regards to sexual violence and assault prevention, Savage feels that her knowledge and experience will help to maintain this “achievable” mindset in student government.
With regards to sexual violence prevention, Savage hopes to bring the “Now UCSB” campaign to Davis, create a freshman sexual assault seminar class and organize a sexual assault work group. She also aims to extend the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) limit of visits, create a peer education model and lastly, install some general improvement for campus resources such as more gender-neutral bathrooms, phone chargers in the library and more microwaves.
“I think also the things that I mentioned in my platforms affect everyone at UC Davis on a really wide scale,” Savage said. “I’ve been involved in a multitude of things, so I really do have a wide understanding of the way this campus works and also needs based on different groups.”
Noor Adilla Jamaludin:
An involved member of the Empower Arab Sisterhood and Students for Justice in Palenstine, second-year environmental policy analysis and planning major Noor Adilla Jamaludin and Based senatorial candidate hopes to improve international resources.
“[The members of “Based” slate] all represent different communities,” Jamaludin said. “That’s why we’re called “Based”—we’re from the grassroots.”
Originally from Malaysia, Jamaludin said she knows firsthand how language barriers can hinder students in academic and social settings. Jamaludin believes the first step to improving the resources and representation for international students is to hire counselors and peer advisors who are bilingual. She also wants to see more diverse food options in the ASUCD Coffee House — including international food.
Among her smaller platforms are increasing the ten-swipes per quarter that a student is able to donate with regards to the Dining Commons, working on increasing the Pantry’s accessibility and starting a “Pay-it-forward” campaign.
“I feel that I’ve contributed to the UC Davis community on that sort of grassroots level,” Jamaludin said. “I thought that this is another way to contribute back to the community, to run for senate.”
As vice president of the Mock Trial club, third-year sociology and political science double major and SMARTER senatorial candidate Tyler Hrobuchak said he knows firsthand how hard it is to run a club with economic constraints.
“I want to expand the funding for small organizations,” Hrobuchak said. “I really just want to provide university funding to the little guys on campus.”
Along with the Mock Trial club, Hrobuchak is also involved in in debate club, Model United Nations and Davis College Republicans.
Other than club finance reform, Hrobuchak advocated for some “general improvements to campus” such as more bike racks and more outlets in the library.
“I really want to give back to the student body that I’ve been a part of,” Hrobuchak said. “I really want to bring that [approachable atmosphere] to the student body — I want to bridge the gap between the students and the actual senate.”
With experience as a staffer for senator Alex Lee and as a member of Club Finance Council, fourth-year political science major and independent senatorial candidate Puneet Dhindsa believes she will be able to use her experience to execute her three main platforms.
Dhindsa’s platforms include campus resource optimization, self-care and collaboration with the Student Community Center to enhance campus diversity and community. She plans for bi-weekly events to be held on the quad to showcase resources for self-care, while also having open mics and social events to bring out clubs and improve community acceptance.
“I think one thing we all have in common is we all belong to different clubs and backgrounds,” Dhindsa said. “There are so many hate crimes on campus — if people were aware of just one or two things about different cultures, I think they’d have a different perspective.”
Being a full-time student can be stressful, and to combat this, Dhindsa hopes to bring yoga to the Quad, more “therapy fluffies,” as well as more general outreach about various recourses UC Davis has to offer.
“My main goal is to help students on our campus, to give them everything that they deserve,” Dhindsa said. “We pay so much tuition and we’re not able to use even half those resources; if we [are] able to invest so much money on campus, I think we deserve to take all that it has to offer.”
As Karma Patrol Director for this academic year’s Whole Earth Festival, fifth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major and Friends Urging Campus Kindness (F.U.C.K.) senatorial candidate Tyler Longenbaugh hopes to help increase UC Davis’ sustainability.
“In a lot of ways, the campus is becoming more focused on devices socially,” Longenbaugh said. “Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily — but it’s sort of pulling us away from student-funded clubs.”
Longenbaugh streamlined his platforms into a simple acronym: Community Accessibility Transparency Sustainability (CATS). He is a firm believer that students should be aware of ASUCD’s plans and choices, and he plans to help bridge that gap by making ASUCD more transparent and accessible. On top of this, a few of Longenbaugh’s other goals include introducing food stamps to UC Davis students and creating a disabilities committee on campus.
“I want to be involved in advocating for things that Davis does really well,” Longenbaugh said. “I want to be involved in advocating for things like intersectionality, the rights of people who are not white men [and] I want to be involved in increasing our sustainability.”
For second-year political science major Jack Foley, running as a SMARTER senatorial candidate symbolized a push for democracy.
“Why I joined the slate was for democratic principles,” Foley said. “I think the senate now is not very representative in terms of a mandate to lead the students of UC Davis. In the last election there were six people who ran and six people who were elected — not one of them had a competitive election.”
Foley’s three platforms include streamlining the club finance process and providing resources for clubs to raise their own money, updating bike repair stations on campus and providing better outreach to international students.
As a member of the UC Davis Mock Trial team and the Dead Arts Society, as well as having previous involvement in ASUCD, Foley believes he will be able to provide better resources to students campus-wide.
“I want to be able to represent students,” Foley said. “I think there’s a huge disconnect from the student body and the student government — [and I want to] bridge that disconnect.”
Lynn Elisea Ayala:
With current senator Andrea Velazquez, the only Chicana senator on the table, terming out by the end of the quarter, second-year Chicana/Chicano studies major and Based senatorial candidate Lynn Elisea Ayala is most concerned with equal representation of the Chicana/o community in ASUCD.
“I’m running for supporting holistic resources for underrepresented resources on campus,” Ayala said. “UC Davis is going to become a Hispanic serving institute. Right now, UC Davis is 19 percent Chilat and it’s going to go up to at least 25 percent [by fall 2018 or 2019.] It’s really important to support the resources that benefit Chilat students.”
As chief of staff for Velazquez and with extensive involvement with the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A), Ayala stressed the importance of retention in the Chicano/a community.
On top of this, Ayala also hopes to bring a taco truck to campus, joining a variety of food trucks on campus including Star Ginger Asian and Shah’s Halal.
“I want to be an ASUCD senator because I feel it’s really important for student government to reflect the demographics of the population,” Ayala said. “I want to be the voice of the students to represent their needs, as well as be an ally for other communities.”
Upon transferring to Davis over a month ago, third-year psychology major and independent senatorial candidate Jordan Williamson almost immediately recognized two things: a lack in procedures in disabilities services and high levels of sexual assault.
“I feel like disabled students at UC Davis are underrepresented,” Williamson said. “The reason why disabilities involve one of my platforms is because I have a disability myself, and my transfer to Davis for disability services hasn’t been a very smooth one.”
Williamson, who had a personal experience with receiving testing accommodations, believes that he could represent disabled students at UC Davis at a much higher standard than is currently in student government.
Along with working as an advocate for disabled students, Williamson believes that increasing resources for and helping victims to speak up is important to the prevention of sexual assault.
“I want to make a change at UC Davis,” Williamson said. “I want to leave it better than when I came in.”
Candidates Nolan Matter and Jacqueline Obeid did not respond to an interview request for the article, and former candidates Bennet Pollack-Reeber and Grayson Gordon dropped out of the senatorial race for the quarter.