Candidates discuss how to end toxicity within Senate
The three executive tickets running for the positions of ASUCD president and vice president held a debate at the CoHo starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Aggie Community Transfer’s (ACT) executive ticket Toni Sandoval and Kevin Butt were present as was BASED’s executive ticket Julie Jung and Julienne Correa. While the Unite! slate’s presidential candidate Michael Gofman was present, his running mate, Shaniah Branson, was unable to attend.
Sandoval is a third-year communication major and transfer student. Her running mate, Butt, is a transfer, third-year political science and African American Studies double major. The ACT slate expressed their hope to create more opportunities for transfer students and implement more transparency and accountability within ASUCD.
Gofman, a second-year political science and economics double major, is running for president alongside Branson, a third-year communication major. The Unite! slate aims to address food insecurity, transparency and transfer student resources.
Jung, a third-year political science and psychology double major, is running for president with running mate Correa, a third-year psychology and sociology double major. The BASED slate aims to increase resources for ASUCD units, increase communication with administration and increase advocacy for underrepresented communities.
The debate began with the candidates addressing where ASUCD has historically let students down in terms of accountability and representation. Sandoval gave a passionate critique of the Senate’s shortcomings during the elections process and how difficult it has been for her and her running mate during this process.
“I think that ASUCD uses this institution to continue to operate the way that they do and keep power in the hands of those they choose for it to be in,” Sandoval said.
Gofman addressed the university’s failure to properly advocate for disability rights. Similarly, Jung chastised ASUCD’s failure to show up for marginalized communities.
When asked about past experiences with ASUCD, Gofman and Jung discussed their work as senators while Sandoval claimed the question was inherently biased against her and her running mate, who are new transfer students at UC Davis and have no experience with ASUCD.
Outside of ASUCD, Gofman referenced his work with the Davis Veteran’s Success Center, working within his fraternity and with disabled rights groups.
Jung spoke about her work as an intern at the International Center. Jung, an international student herself, participates in workshops and a mentorship program that works to connect international students.
Jung also discussed the lack of accountability among senators.
“I think it’s very easy to say you’re going to show up for someone because a lot of ASUCD senators say that, but they continually fail to [do so],” Jung said.
In hopes of making ASUCD more accessible, Jung described her aim to make ASUCD’s Night Out a quarterly event rather than an annual event. ASUCD’s Night Out is a large open house that helps students connect with ASUCD.
Jung also said she aims to use different centers on campus, such as the Cross Cultural Center and the International Center, to host the event as another way to make ASUCD more accessible to traditionally overlooked communities on campus.
When asked about candidates’ problem-solving abilities, Gofman discussed being a controversial figure on the Senate but not letting professional disagreements cross over to affect friendships. Jung spoke about aiming to hold senators more accountable.
Gofman addressed the controversy of the Campus Center for the Environment removing him as their adopted senator in the summer of 2017. The decision resulted from Gofman abstaining from voting on a resolution put forth by the student organization Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities. Gofman also referenced the controversial Senate Bill #76, which made the American flag optional at Senate meetings.
“I actually did tell them in advance that I would abstain on that vote,” Gofman said. “In the interest of not offending any of the communities I represent, I chose to abstain. I think their reaction to it largely came from political reasons regarding the flag bill that I opposed at the time.”
Butt addressed the current atmosphere of exclusion and toxicity that surrounds the ASUCD Senate.
“It’s time for a change, we need to get new people in with fresh ideas who aren’t a part of the problem,” Butt said. “If anyone’s ever gone to an ASUCD meeting, you see the toxicity, you see the hostility. That’s not how it should be.”
While Sandoval and Butt had to leave the table for class, Gofman, Jung and Correa answered questions from the public as well as from ASUCD President Josh Dalavai and Vice President Adilla Jamaludin.
Written by: Ally Russell — firstname.lastname@example.org