Reflecting on Julie Jung, Jose Meneses, Simran Grewal, Matthew Yamaguchi’s individual platforms, accomplishments, shortcomings
The California Aggie reflects on four ASUCD senators who completed their 2016-17 terms in office. After each student’s respective victory in the 2016 Fall Elections, each of the four had a year in the Senate to address their platforms and efficiently represent their constituencies.
Julie Jung joined the ASUCD Senate table in October of 2016 as an interim senator for Georgia Savage. She ran, and won, the Fall Election of that year and began her one-year Senate term with platforms on basic needs, security and advocacy for unit representation.
“The reason I applied for the interim seat was mainly because I had worked in former president Alex Lee’s staff, who was the president before Josh,” Jung said. “He had us focus a lot on units.”
As a full-time senator, Jung adopted 10 units — she worked primarily with Creative Media, Unitrans, The CoHo, Entertainment Council, The Pantry, Picnic Day, Aggie Reuse, Refrigerator Services and the Experimental College.
When asked if attention to units has become more prevalent in ASUCD, Jung said yes, citing the realigned focus onto units at the Senate table as a proud accomplishment of her term.
“It’s very rewarding when someone comes up to me and says, ‘I really appreciate how you focus [on] X Unit, it’s not seen very much on the table,’” Jung said.
Annie Wang, a second-year materials science engineering major, described her interaction with former Senator Jung. Wang served on Jung’s staff and as an intern for Aggie Reuse.
“She really tried to mentor the people who were working for her,” Wang said.
Wang also said that Jung would host socials and mock Senate tables for staffers to get accustomed to how the ASUCD Senate works.
Former Pantry Director Maria Chang, a fifth-year pharmaceutical chemistry major, called Jung a support-oriented senator.
“She helped us navigate ASUCD and understand how things work and she put us in touch with people that had the resources to help us with what we need at the time,” Chang said.
Jung’s appointment to Senate pro tempore took time away from what would have gone to projects based on her platforms to prioritizing her new role.
“Pro tempore is so focused on making sure all the other senators are doing their jobs, so it was very hard to focus on my projects after Spring Quarter,” Jung said.
Jose Meneses was elected during his second year at UC Davis on the platforms of sexual assault awareness, domestic violence awareness and legal representation on campus.
Meneses addressed access to legal counsel for students by corresponding with other UC campuses.
“With months of researching and meeting with admin and different groups across UCs, primarily UC Berkeley [and] their student legal clinic, we found that we already have a lot of legal resources on campus,” Meneses said.
The former senator’s platform focused on increasing the accessibility of UC Davis’ legal counsel on the ASUCD website. The project is up for approval by the campus’ office of legal counsel for initiation in Winter Quarter.
“It’s essentially looking for legal resources on campus we already have and just sort of making it easier for students to navigate and access,” Meneses said.
Meneses worked primarily with the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) and the Experimental Community Gardens units as an adopted senator.
“He, in general, was very proactive about reaching out to us in terms of knowing what’s going on with us and being informed with what’s going on at the WEF,” said Monica Dwight, a fourth-year Spanish and political science public service double major and the WEF unit director.
When asked where he fell short in his term, Meneses said he overlooked opportunities to work with the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community on campus.
“I think AAPI students […] get bunched up into this umbrella of ‘Asian’ and whatever stereotype that encompasses,” Meneses said. “I think the model minority myth is so prevalent on campus that a lot of the issues we’re facing — academic, mental health and […] other issues that plague our communities — get overlooked because of those stereotypes.”
Meneses does not have any plans to continue with ASUCD now that his term has ended.
“In terms of being involved in school and students’ lives, I definitely look forward to that,” Meneses said. “I hope ASUCD keeps fighting for progressive issues. I hope that people don’t see [ASUCD] as political, [but] that people see it as human rights.”
Simran Grewal, a third-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major began her term as a second-year. Her goals with a newly-acquired seat in Senate were to academically diversify the table.
“Something I really wanted to do was bridge the gap between ASUCD and many of the STEM majors, because there’s a really clear misconception that ASUCD is only meant for pre-law or political science students, but that’s definitely not the case,” Grewal said. “When you have a student government that serves the entire UC Davis undergraduate population, you should have a Senate table that thoroughly reflects that.”
Grewal marks her successful implementation of 24-hour library periods during finals week as a proud accomplishment of her term. As the only remaining UC at the time to not have had a 24-hour library period for students, Grewal took on the project at the beginning of her Senate term.
“I was really glad to see [this project] accomplished within one term,” Grewal said. “Oftentimes you see a lot of Senate platforms completed after terms, but to have it completed actually within the last week of my Senate term was something I was really proud about.”
Grewal focused on STS/Taxi, HAUS, the CoHo and The California Aggie for her adopted units.
Areas for improvement, according to Grewal, included time management for larger projects and greater collaboration between senators.
“Two is more than one,” Grewal said. “When you have the time of two senators and their staff, two teams working together can accomplish a lot more than one.”
Grewal sees herself continuing her involvement in student government. She is considering advocating for the continuation of Punjabi language classes at UC Davis, which Grewal said she has been involved in since her freshman year.
Grewal also said she hopes to see greater numbers of STEM majors on the Senate table and further communication between senators and commissions.
Matthew Yamaguchi is a fourth-year managerial economics major. On his Senate profile page, Yamaguchi describes himself “as a business and finance enthusiast.”
“Matthew had a strong understanding of business and economics,” said Alex Mirov, the former chair of the Business and Finance Commission, via email. “This allowed him to provide relevant and constructive insight to our discussions. Matthew also participated in the interviewing process to hire new B&F members. Matt’s opinions on applicants were also very helpful in deciding who to hire from our new member applicant pool.”
After multiple requests for comment, Yamaguchi was unavailable to provide a statement.
Written by: Elizabeth Mercado — firstname.lastname@example.org