What the fall of S.M.A.R.T and the rise of fresh slates says about the current needs of the student body
This fall, students are seeing an ASUCD senate election that is much different from last year’s. For the past few years, the NOW Slate and Students Matter: Activism, Retention, and Teamwork (S.M.A.R.T) Slate have had a significant presence on the ballots.
However, this quarter, three outside slates have emerged, two of which are new and one which has not been active since 2006. Slates act similar to political parties for ASUCD elections in the sense that they are comprised of student candidates who share similar platforms and views.
On the ballot this quarter are 17 candidates, nine of whom are affiliated with a political slate. Out of those nine, five are involved with the new Based slate, one is involved with the reemerged Friends Urging Campus Kindness (F.U.C.K) slate and two are involved with the new Smarter slate.
Georgia Savage, Adilla Jamaludin, Parteek Singh, Jacqueline Obeid and Lynn Ayala are running under Based. David Belcher and Jack Foley are running under Smarter. Lastly, Tyler Longenbaugh is running under F.U.C.K.
The nature of this quarter’s election starkly contrasts with the recent winter election and even elections before that. During the winter 2015 election, only six candidates ran, which produced an uncontested race and earned all the candidates a position. During the fall 2014 election, only seven candidates ran and all but one of the candidates were elected.
A majority of candidates ran under S.M.A.R.T for the 2014 and 2015 elections and a majority of the current student government is affiliated with S.M.A.R.T. Of the 12 current senators, seven are affiliated with S.M.A.R.T. Additionally, ASUCD President Mariah Kala Watson is also a member of the slate.
Longenbaugh believes the combination of S.M.A.R.T’s focus on student activism and a lack of political diversity led senate to put less focus on directly improving student life.
Not only did it distract the association from ongoing issues, Longenbaugh also believes that S.M.A.R.T’s focus on student activism, especially concerning issues like divestment, divided the campus further.
“S.M.A.R.T spent a lot of time trying to [divest] and we ended up not divesting. For us, I would say that a lot of the issues that we’re talking about now, things like divestment, are important issues,” Longenbaugh said. ”But […] I think it’s easy to polarize the student body and have them get distracted from things that we can do here.”
Longenbaugh chose to resurrect a slate that has not been active since 2006 because he wants to ground the association on changes that he believes are easily within its power. The slate’s current pillars stand on community, accessibility, transparency and sustainability (C.A.T.S.). These are ideas that Longenbaugh believes directly serve the student’s immediate environment and are within the association’s reach.
In addition,Longenbaugh believes that the role of activism should play a minor role in the senate.
“I’m not saying it’s not important that you be an activist, but I’m saying that activism does not need to be necessarily the ASUCD’s position,” Longenbaugh said. ”ASUCD should exist to serve the students, make them aware of what’s available to them and give them opportunities.”
On the other hand, Savage and her slate believe that activism, specifically lobbying, is important and a necessary component in the association’s effort to improve student life. While there are some initiatives that fit within ASUCD’s budget, Based believes it is also necessary to lobby to effect changes which are outside the budget’s limits.
“Although [candidates] do often have amazing ideas, a lot of times it is hard to implement due to financial constraints,” Savage said. ”So being able to lobby and ask for money from outside sources […] should also definitely [be] utilized as a university.”
The slate’s emphasis on lobbying is only one portion of a multifaceted intersectional platform which seeks to ground the community. The slate operates under several primary values representing each of its members.
Those values include sexual assault prevention and mental health resources, international resources and representation, retention specifically for people of color, increasing club involvement and resources and food security. Some specific initiatives posed by members include providing Plan B vending machines, expanding on inclusive community spaces and hiring more bilingual counselors.
Based, according to Savage, represents a coordinated group of individuals whose initiatives all complement one another. While each member under Based focuses on different problems within the community, their solutions all intersect.
“We all heard each other’s platforms and thought about whether this would be a good idea and realized we could really help each other,” Savage said
The establishment of Smarter differs from that of Based, in that the Smarter slate was created in response to the recent years of uncontested or low-competition elections. While the candidates were unavailable for questioning, Foley addressed these concerns in his candidate statement.
“We are a big tent group from all walks of life with one common commitment: the idea that [s]enate should be made up of democratically elected officials, rather than people ushered in without competition,” Foley wrote in his statement.
The slate’s primary interest is in reforming the Club Finance Council (CFC), a council which they believe is extremely bureaucratic. In Belcher’s candidate statement he describes the system’s rigidness.
“CFC is extremely bureaucratic and has stringent guidelines regulating how clubs can receive ASUCD funding and how they can spend allocated funds,” Belcher said in his statement.
Despite the differing platforms among the slates, current ASUCD Senator Roman Rivilis advises all the candidates to test the feasibility of their ideas before trying to implement them.
“Research your platforms and test them with the department that you want to collaborate with to actualize them,” Rivilis said.
As Savage said, the rise of fresh political slates is representative of the changing needs of a university community.
“The dynamics of this school is constantly changing. Every four years, students graduate,” Savage said. “Different ideology and problems on campus are constantly coming to light. Students need to respond immediately to these problems.”
Find these three slates, as well as the independent candidates, on elections.ucdavis.edu. Elections will be held from Nov. 9 to Nov. 11.
Written by: Katrina Manrique – firstname.lastname@example.org