Ramirez Sigala’s performance as ASUCD senator
ASUCD Senator Yajaira Ramirez Sigala, a third-year sustainable agriculture and food systems and Chicana/o studies double major, will be finishing her term in the Senate at the end of this quarter. During her campaign, Ramirez Sigala ran on the platform of raising campus awareness of underrepresented groups — particularly the undocumented community — by creating mandatory sensibility trainings and safe-zone commissions.
Ramirez Sigala discussed her progress on her platform and said she believes she successfully completed her goals.
“I myself am undocumented and I saw that a lot of the need and concerns of the community weren’t being addressed by the association or any other place besides the AB540 center,” Ramirez Sigala said. “At the end of the day, it wasn’t realistic to create a whole new program [of sensibility training]. The AB540 has training for peers and for educators, so I’m more focused on improving that with the coordinator that was in charge of it and incorporating that into other trainings. What I focused more on was addressing the needs of undocumented students. I was able to address [all platforms]. I don’t think they were executed the way I originally thought.”
According to Ramirez Sigala, having an undocumented individual preside as an ASUCD senator represented significant change to the undocumented community at UC Davis.
“As for addressing the awareness and diversity of the undocumented community, I saw it in the space: more folks were being more present and knowing that there was a representative — the very first undocumented senator that UC Davis has ever had,” Ramirez Sigala said.
Also addressing her platforms, Ramirez Sigala mentioned a few of the ways she is currently trying to incorporate immigration issues into different trainings.
“I’m currently trying to finalize some efforts with PEACE training,” Ramirez Sigala said. “PEACE training addresses the different parts of students’ identity; it deals with sex, gender, income and they touch a little bit on immigration. If it were to happen that at any presentation there was somebody who was undocumented or somebody who wanted to be a better ally, [an undocumented student would] be able to address those concerns. Having an undocumented person part of the board or whoever is facilitating the trainings is more appropriate and can better address issues.”
Also a member of the DREAM committee, Ramirez Sigala said her involvement as a senator strengthened the committee.
“The table before me had totally disregarded DREAM committee and it was in the process of being removed as one of the committees and I was able to help revive it,” Ramirez Sigala said. “This year, I helped them get organized, be in the bylaws, and we were actually able to establish a budget. They got $5,000 this year. Half of it went to our lending library which provides educational materials on the loan system for students every quarter. [Part of it also went to] the cap and gown project, which I wrote a bill on, [which] was to provide rentals for caps and gowns for undocumented individuals.”
Another member of the DREAM committee, Alexandra Camille Munoz San Pablo, a fifth-year civil engineering major, provided explanation on the lending library project. The DREAM committee advocates “for initiatives on campus that will improve the education, awareness, and advocacy of issues relating to undocumented students at UC Davis,” according to the ASUCD website.
“The lending library started in the fall of 2016,” Munoz San Pablo said. “Now, our library has grown to about 300 books. Students can ask for the books that they need for the quarter and we try to either get books donated or we purchase books with the money that we do get from different sources. They can keep the books for the whole quarter instead of having to fight with the library for a book.”
Munoz San Pablo also discussed how Ramirez Sigala has helped the DREAM committee.
“She is very engaged and she works well with the current chair,” Munoz San Pablo said. “They work well together in the sense that Yajaira, in my opinion, is the person who handles most of it. We have meetings, the chair says stuff, but the person who puts it into action is Yajaira. The person we can rely on is basically Yajaira, because she has the most power in the sense that her ties with ASUCD is what brings the money into committee.”
Also passionate about environmental issues, Ramirez Sigala explained how she has tried to expand her influence on such issues.
“Undocumented issues and environmental justice intersect a lot,” Ramirez Sigala said. “We’ve been able to expand the conversation not just on environmentalism but more on environmental justice. We’re being more critical about the conversations that are happening like how accessible it is for a community to plant a tree when they’re working from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. Now that it is in our scope and we’re acknowledging and having these conversations, hopefully folks can participate and create more physical projects. The [Campus Center for the Environment] has been super supportive of other environmental pieces, like a resolution [Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities] wrote asking ASUCD to support efforts of implementing environmental justice in the curriculum of the College of Agriculture.”
When asked about her weaknesses, Ramirez Sigala mentioned a few different ways she could have performed better as a senator.
“I kind of get caught up with wanting to get certain projects done,” Ramirez Sigala said. “It’s kind of hard to admit at times, but if I would’ve taken care of myself a little more, I would have been able to do way more than I had. I wish I would have been more on top of the elections thing and really pushing folks to step up and run for Senate. I could’ve built even better relationships with the Senate table earlier on.”
In an email, ASUCD President Josh Dalavai talked about Ramirez Sigala’s performance as a senator.
“Senator Yajaira has been very vocal in support of her communities on the table along with being an active participant in matters regarding organizing and social justice movements on campus,” Dalavai said. “She works very well with her peers and is well respected on the table. I believe that she has followed through exceptionally on her platforms and has included many voices on the table which are not typically represented. Yajaira was overall an amazing Senator.”
Written by: Sabrina Habchi — firstname.lastname@example.org