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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

2016 ASUCD Winter Elections – Meet the Candidates


These are the candidates running in the 2016 ASUCD Winter Elections

Summit Slate


Alex Lee (President) and Abhay Sandhu (Vice President)

LeeSandhuAs one of two executive tickets, Lee, a third-year communication and political science double major, and Sandhu, a third-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, seek to change the university through a five-point platform consisting of academics, advocacy, clubs, jobs and ASUCD reform. Among their goals, the duo plans on making GE credit available for AP and IB classes, expanding ASUCD jobs, ensuring UC Davis’ participation in UC-wide decisions and launching a club fair. The pair also plans to create a cabinet under the executive branch to address key issues within the association.


“Alex and I are huge proponents of clubs, and we want to host a club fair that would allow clubs to streamline recruitment services and sell their merchandise,” Sandhu said. “Clubs are really the backbone of extracurricular involvement.”

In terms of experience, Lee just completed his term as an ASUCD senator and is the founder of the Davis Filmmaking Society, and Sandhu has spent time interning under former Senator Gareth Smythe and is currently the chair for the International Affairs Commission.

“ASUCD is the largest employer of students on campus, so we want to take pride in that,” Sandhu said. “We want to propel that notion of getting students jobs and we want to maintain that progress and hopefully expand the amount of jobs that we can offer in ASUCD.”


Ryan Downer

DownerAs a transfer from Santa Monica College and the vice chair for the Transfer, Re-entry and Veteran Committee, Downer, a third-year English major, seeks to improve resources for students by making the Orientation Handbook more student-friendly.

Downer, who has two years of student government experience from his junior college, wants to enhance financial literacy for students by holding lessons on investment strategies. He also plans to increase funding toward units like The Pantry, Aggie Reuse Store and Campus Center for the Environment.

“I’m a former homeless runaway. I was homeless for a year when I was 18, so I went through a very harrowing experience,” Downer said. “I have a deep empathy and connection with people who are greatly in need. I’m basically on a mission to make sure that the units that provide student aid for the people on campus are well-funded, well-taken care of and well-managed.”

Christie Chan

ChanAs a member of Alpha Chi Omega and second-year managerial economics major, Chan hopes to unite ASUCD and Greek life through her platform — Greeks Giving Back, a joint fundraising campaign to increase funding to support groups such as Cal Aggie Camp and The Pantry.

“My big is the unit director of Cal Aggie Camp and the budget has been really rough on her. She’s had to raise a lot of money than previous years,” Chan said. “Just looking at that and learning about how other units don’t get as much funding, that’s what mainly inspired me to unite the Greeks and ASUCD because I know Greeks are masters of fundraising.”

Chan, who is a current member of the Internal Affairs Commission, also seeks to establish a business major on-campus.

Irveen Grewal

GrewalAs the vice president of Ignite UC Davis, an organization serving to empower young women to become active leaders, second-year political science and psychology double major Grewal hopes to further sexual assault advocacy on campus.

“I’d like to work with the Campus Crisis Response team to bring advocacy efforts to girls who have been attacked or victimized,” Grewal said.

Grewal, who was a staffer for former Senator Alex Lee, also hopes to further student resources through increasing nap areas, providing more 24-hour study rooms and extending computer lab hours. She also hopes to increase safety on campus through further developing the Safe Ride app and improving campus lighting.

Sam Park

ParkAs a transfer and former temporarily-disabled student himself, Park, a fourth-year political science major, wants to completely restructure transfer and veteran students’ orientation to engage the full extent of resources provided to the two groups. Park also wants to provide veterans with a separate orientation process completely, along with a career advising network for disabled students, increased notetakers and an information guide online.

“I believe [my decision to run for senate] was due to my own basic personal experience and struggles as a transfer and temporarily disabled student,” Park said. “I want to provide that perspective because it’s not being provided in the senate table right now.”

Park served as the network development organizer for Sigma Nu Fraternity and has served the internal affairs commission in ASUCD.

MolodanofSofia Molodanof

Molodanof, a second-year English and communication double major, has platforms that center around advocating for mental health, displaying nutritional information in the CoHo and improving campus amenities.

Molodanof serves as part of the ASUCD outreach assembly, and has experience with student council.

“We’re one of the biggest schools in California and [ASUCD [has] one of the biggest budgets in the country as it is,” Molodanof said. “I feel confident in my abilities to help students out.”


Based Slate


Samantha Chiang

ChiangChiang, a second-year English and psychology double major, has a platform that revolves around providing students with the basics, including creating a letter of recommendation system via OASIS or Canvas, making end-of-the-quarter professor evaluations public and bringing a vending machine to Shields Library.

Given her recent battle with anterograde amnesia, a mental illness that prevents the formation of new memories, Chiang also hopes to mandate mental health training for all professors. Chiang serves as the director of public engagement in ASUCD executive office.

“My platforms are all about bringing things back down to the basics means, giving students what they need as opposed to what they want,” Chiang said.


Ryan Abusaa

AbusaaAbusaa began his senatorial run with the goal of creating a series of student committees to help increase advocacy and representation for students, particularly international students and students of color.

“I’d like to have students from different backgrounds, representing different colleges international [and] national to sit on these committees to make sure we’re ethically using our funds,” Abusaa said.

Abusaa, who interned under former Senator Roman Rivilis and worked with the Experimental College, also hopes to expand the role of the Entertainment Council by pairing the unit with the Club Finance Council and bringing in local artists. He also plans to work with Transportation and Parking Services to create an alternate payment system, in which students can pay off tickets through donations to The Pantry or volunteer hours.

DhaliwalShaitaj Dhaliwal

As the current chief of staff for the ASUCD Executive Office and a former intern for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Dhaliwal is planning on bringing her experience to the senate table. Her plans include arranging a Davis Music Festival through accessing reserves funding, bringing healthier food options to the Silo and creating more lounge spaces in Shields Library.

“Coming in, I have a vast amount of experience with not only policy, but also advocacy,” Dhaliwal said. “Through my experience, I’ve been able to meet with students and hear what their main desires are.”


Sevan Nahabedian

NahabedianFor second-year genetic and genomics Nahabedian, running for re-election came down to ensuring the completion of his unfinished projects from his past year as senator. He hopes to continue his work as adopted senator of the Bike Barn, by expediting repairs, updating the showroom and restructuring the unit so that its focus is on selling and repairing parts.

“I know how the space operates,” Nahabedian said. “I think that makes me the ideal choice for a second term. There are these projects that I’m so passionate [about], and I want to see them come to fruition.”

Additionally, Nahabedian has worked closely with Senator Miguel Guerrero and the External Affairs Commission to meet with athletics department representatives in order to figure out a way of increasing students’ commitment to Aggie athletics.

Ricardo Martinez

MartinezAfter seeing the strides Senator Kamaal Thomas made for the African Diaspora community,  third-year political science and philosophy double major Martinez developed a campaign targeting the Chicanx/Latinx community. Martinez, who was a commissioner on the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission and previously interned at the Cross Cultural Center, plans on improving retention and recruitment for Chicanx/Latinx students.

“I was part of Senator Kamaal’s staff and while working with him I learned of two interesting ways in which to tackle retention and recruitment,” Martinez said. “I hope to apply what I have learned to the Chicanx/Latinx community.”

Martinez also wants to bring the Community Advising Network counselors to the AB540 Undocumented Student Center, Center for Advocacy, Resources and Education, the LGBTQIA Resource Center and the Women’s Resources and Research Center.

Ayman Shehadeh

SedhadehShehadeh, a second-year biochemistry and molecular biology double major, would like to implement a more supportive academic probation (AP) system by providing peer advising and more efficient warnings to those students on AP. Shehadeh also aims to bring more career resources for non-STEM majors.

“I feel as though ASUCD is represented heavily through social science majors and there’s not a lot of representation from people who are [in the] hard sciences,” Shehadeh said. “They don’t have a full representation of what the student body is, and I feel that I can represent that.”

Shehadeh previously worked for the Academic Affairs Commission.


L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Empowerment, Activism, Diversity) Slate


Elijah Pipersburg (President) and Lauren Kong (Vice President)

PipersburgKongBoth stemming from backgrounds of student leadership at the same community college, Pipersburg, a third-year political science major, and Kong, a fourth-year political science major, hope to strengthen energy, education and representation through their executive ticket. They strive to not only represent UC Davis students but to also highlight and encourage student voice, while invigorating the Aggie spirit on campus through their “Project Fun,” consisting of acts like bringing headliners back to campus.

“We thought that [with] Mariah’s campaign, she really did bring it home,” Pipersburg said. “Seeing that [Kong and I] are the executive candidates [of L.E.A.D.], [we] want to continue the work Mariah has done — but go a little bit further.”

Currently, Pipersburg serves for the Office of Advocacy and Student Representation and as a member of the UC Regents Committee of Educational Policy. He previously acted as local affairs officer and vice president of internal affairs for the Davis consulting group. His running mate, Kong, served as a staffer for Senator Alex Lee and has past experience coaching badminton and leading the speech and debate team at both Kong and Pipersburg’s community college.

“We really believe in the voice of the student, which is what education is about,” Kong said. “Education is about transparency and understanding what ASUCD is about. We want everything to flow in a very cohesive manner, in a way that’s very collaborative so that everyone feels that they know what’s going and that they have a voice on campus.”


Brendan Chang

ChangFor Chang, a former senator and a fourth-year English and statistics double major, running a second time means a chance for him to further his former projects, including his reinstatement of the Transfer, Re-entry and Veterans Committee earlier this year. He also wants to continue to work with the Academic Affairs Commission to create a freely accessible portal for students to access class syllabi.

“The association has not really accommodated transfer students basically since its existence,” Chang said. “We’re 25 percent of the population, but we haven’t been represented in the association.”

Chang has held roles in student government for the past four years, including positions as a senator and the director of programs for his community college.

Bennett Pollack-Reeber

Pollack-ReeberFor Pollack-Reeber, a third-year political science and international relations double major, running for senate stems from his passion for social justice and his background in student leadership.

As a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Pollack-Reeber, founder of the non-profit “Helmets are Sexy!” and Bernie Sanders superfan, hopes to start out his term by organizing free know-your-rights seminars for UC Davis students. Pollack-Reeber hopes to bring about the state-wide “Good Samaritan Law” to campus — where its presence is excluded — to avoid any students who might be suffering from overdose or drug-related issues from losing housing, financial aid and other academic privileges simply because they reached out for help.

“I think we need to see more activism [and] less bureaucracy in student government,” Pollack-Reeber said. “I want to be the catalyst to get things done, and to change things we don’t like.”

Jasir Soomro

SoomroIf elected, Soomro, a fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, hopes to use his previous experience as senator and commission member at his past community college to serve the UC Davis campus community.

“I have that resonance with the people’s wants and needs,” Soomro said. “The critical time that ASUCD is going forward with — the budget crisis — I want to be apart of that.”

Soomro’s main platforms consist of serving coffee and tea in the library and developing mid quarter evaluations for professors and staff members, rather than the single end-of-quarter evals.

Drake Santamaria

SantamariaSantamaria, a third-year design and communication double major, hopes to focus on bringing a safe environment to trans students seeking housing accommodation, with eventual plans to branch out into representation for other marginalized groups on campus.

“I found out that those who had a platform that stood on diversity and marginalized students had to step down this quarter, and no one was going to take the frontier and step up,” Santamaria said. “I felt as though it is [unfair] for those who fall in a diverse or marginalized community to not be heard and I want to be that voice for them.”


Santamaria is a part of the Student Fashion Association and serves as philanthropy chair for Sigma Nu Fraternity, having worked with the gender and sexualities commission, student housing and undergraduate admissions in the past.

Claudio Serrano

SerranoSerrano, a third-year history and Spanish double major, wants to up the accessibility of resources to students. She hopes to increase the availability of gender neutral restrooms on campus, while also planning biweekly academic advising on the Quad from all the colleges.

With her background as member of the student board for the Danzantes Del Alma (DDA) and a previous public relations and marketing intenrship, Serrano ensures she has ample experience in directing large group of students.

“I felt like ChiLat community wasn’t being represented as much in the student government,” Serrano said. “I felt now […] was a perfect time to go out and represent my community and advocate for issues that concern them.”



Jack Foley

FoleyFor Foley, a second-year political science major, club funding is his number one goal. Foley, who ran for senate in Fall 2015, hopes to assist with funding through working with local businesses and providing tips for applying to grants.

Foley, who was an intern for former Senator Reem Fatayerji and who currently holds a position on ASUCD’s judicial branch, also plans to improve student safety by replacing campus lighting and extending Unitrans weekend night schedules, especially for lines that run through downtown or other bar-populated areas.

“Campus lighting comes from my girlfriend. I asked her, ‘If there was something that you’d like to change at UC Davis, what would that be?’  She says that the campus isn’t adequately lit,” Foley said. “I looked at her and I looked at myself. I’m 6’1’’ and a guy and she’s 5’6’’ and a woman. I’m like, ‘Maybe you have a point because that’s something I might not notice.’”

Ryan Brady

BradyAs a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Brady, a second-year statistics major, wants to focus senate on UC Davis-related issues.

“Making things stay school-related is a huge [part] of my platform. I know about the divestment problems and I think that isn’t a place for school politics,” Brady said. “I want to make everything a little less serious. It doesn’t have to be so [much] business and we should be enjoying ourselves.”

Brady’s platforms include creating a computer program that sends emails to students the night before their pass time to prevent the amount of forgotten appointments. Brady works as an intern for Senator Mikaela Tenner and currently serves as his fraternity’s representative in the Interfraternity Council.

Mato Tirkas

TirkasFor Tirkas, a third-year economics major, running for senate is all about supporting the arts. As a past DJ at KDVS and treasurer for his co-founded campus guitar club, Tirkas believes that providing students with the tools they need to execute and explore their artistic ideas would be a vital part of his role as senator.

“I think I can do good things in maintaining what the campus has as of now,” Tirkas said. “I think we have a lot of valuable resources and we need to take care of these resources, it’s a good thing to preserve what you have.”

Tirkas hopes to give more opportunities to connect students to different cultural backgrounds throughout his term.



T.G.I.F. (The Green Initiative Fund)

The Green Initiative fund, commonly stylized T.G.I.F, seeks to add a $3 increase to student fees that would be used to create an approximate $150,000 granting pool that students, staff or faculty can apply for to receive funding for campus sustainability projects, ranging from environmental education to zero-waste events to improving energy infrastructure. Co-authored by Hannah Ulansey, a fourth-year environmental science and management major, and Shaina Forsman, a fourth-year international relations major, the initiative requires the proposed project to involve significantly undergraduate students and approval from the T.G.I.F. committee, which will also determine the allocation of funds.

Print the Aggie Initiative
The Print the Aggie initiative seeks to bring UC Davis’ student-run newspaper, The California Aggie, back to regular in-print publishing, as it had been from 1915-2014. This initiative, authored by Scott Dresser, The Aggie’s editor in chief, would add $3.73 to quarterly student fees — $2.80 of which would go to The Aggie. Income from this initiative would, along with providing a weekly print newspaper to campus, administer compensation for staff, fund a professional business manager to oversee operations and enable The Aggie to purchase new and updated media equipment. Furthermore, the measure has a five-year sunset clause to ensure that the next generation of UC Davis students can decide for themselves if The Aggie is still something worth funding.

Written by: Jason Pham – campus@theaggie.org & Ellie Dierking – features@theaggie.org



Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Sam Park. The article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling. The Aggie regrets the error.


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