External Affairs Vice President endorsement interview: Adam Hatefi

The California Aggie: If you could introduce yourself — your name, your year, your major and your pronouns.

Adam Hatefi: My name is Adam Hatefi. I’m a fourth-year political science and science and technologies double major. My pronouns are he/him/his. 

TCA: Are you associated with a slate? Why did you choose to run with that slate?

AH: I am not. I’m running as an independent. The external vice president is the person who goes out to other governmental organizations and political organizations and represents the interests of the student body. The interests of the student body are issues like housing and food insecurity. I feel like those are issues that are very much, within ASUCD, nonpartisan. I feel like those issues are very much nonpartisan. 

I think that it is important that the association is presented as a united face and as a united body — the entire student body — when it comes to issues that affect every single student, such as the cost of housing, the cost of attendance to college and the cost of tuition. All of those issues are issues that affect all of us, and our issues that should be voiced as a united student body.

TCA: You currently serve as the EAVP. What do you currently do in your role? What does a regular day look like?

AH: A regular day starts at around 6 a.m. I get up at 6 [a.m.] After getting out of bed and everything, it starts with sending some emails to members of the legislative staff at the Capitol, to people that we have coalition partnerships with. I check in with the UCSA legislative director to see what’s going on that day. He gets back to me at 8 [a.m.] when he wakes up. About three or four days a week, I leave for Sacramento at about 8:30 [a.m.] and get there at 9 [a.m.] By [the] time I park, the members of the staff have actually started working. 

I begin by just talking to the offices that we’re working with, going to talk to people that we’re not on a regular basis working with, see if they’re interested in working with us. Every week, something’s up in the legislature — something that we’re in opposing or endorsing, or is in some way relevant to us, or something that we need outside of the legislature that we need the members help with. For example, for the tuition increase was being proposed, I was in the Capitol pretty much all week that week, trying to convince members to put out public statements. I met with 17 or 18 offices asking them to. UC Davis is the most active one when it comes to legislative activity because we’re so close to the Capitol. I was asking them to put out public statements asking the [UC] Regents not to increase tuition. It wasn’t a legislative issue, but we were still in the capitol pretty much all week that week.

Depending on what’s up that week, I’m there in the building talking to members, their staff. Sometimes in the evenings, there are social events in the Capitol in Sacramento, where the Capitol staff, members of the different organizations, members of the legislature themselves and sometimes the governor stuff — once, the governor himself — come and just mingle. It’s really important for us to be at those events because those are, to be honest with you, more work gets done at these events than gets done in formal meetings. Still don’t know why that’s the case. But that’s the case.

So my usual day is usually spent in meetings in the Capitol, making phone calls with our coalition partners and making phone calls with our other UCs just reporting what we’re doing, because I also serve as the UC Student Association statewide campaigns chair. There are four campaigns that I oversee on the statewide level. And then going to these events and making sure that we have some friends when we need them.

TCA: How are you able to juggle these various duties of your various positions, as well as your double major and just being a normal person?

AH: With extreme difficulty. I speak to my professors at the beginning of the quarter. I let them know that I’m not going to make it to like 60% of lectures. That’s just the nature of what I do. Most of them are fine with it, to be honest with you, because there’s like three students who have schedules like this, and they can usually live with it. It’s a challenge. It’s being able to do this position.

When I started as Chief of Staff a year and a half ago, we didn’t have a state presence. We didn’t exist on the state level. If you said, ‘ASUCD’ to somebody, they’d be like, ‘What the f-ck is ASUCD?’ Yeah, feel free to publish that. That’s gonna be great. But now, we are, from what I’m told, I believe we’re the largest single campus legislative operation in the country. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half and that’s been the result. It’s a challenge having to build something from the ground up and having to balance that with everything else. But I mean, so far, I’ve passed all my classes. So it’s kind of working out.

TCA: You already do so much at the Capitol. Do you think that is you going above and beyond the job description, spending so much time there? Or even if you weren’t reelected, do you think that what you do on a day-to-day basis is the baseline for what an External Vice President should do?

AH: I would say, for the UC Davis External Vice President, this should be what we do. That’s considering our proximity to the Capitol. With the baseline level of what an EAVP should do, I’ve kind of locked us into this at this point, because we’ve committed to so many things that even if I’m not the EAVP the person that is the EAVP is going to have to finish all these things we’ve started. We’re committed to it.

Let me put it to you this way: If we don’t if we commit to sponsoring a bill and then we don’t see it through, not only will that member and their staff never work with us again, but anybody who was in any way involved through that process will never even answer our emails. Right? If we don’t finish what we start, we’re done. That’s the biggest reason I’m running is because we have to see these through. We have to finish what we started or we’re not going to be taken seriously.

I feel like with the relationships that I’ve established in the last year and a half, I’m most effectively equipped to actually finish these projects. I think if somebody new comes in at this stage in the calendar, they’re going to have a hard time because not only will they have to keep doing what I’m doing on a daily basis, but they will have to catch up with all the stuff I did in the past.

I’m a fourth-year but I’m staying on until fall, and there is a constitutional amendment that is being considered right now by the Senate to move the EAVP election to fall, just because the legislative session starts in January and ends in September. It makes no sense whatsoever to elect the EAVP in the middle of winter. I mean, it’s just one of those nonsensical things that we need to move. It was conceived of at the time when this position didn’t exist. And it makes sense that that was an error. But we’re moving that so I would only serve until fall, even if I was elected.

TCA: Given that this is the first time students will be voting to elect the EAVP, what sort of tangible accomplishments can you point to, for students, so that they know and get a sense of what you’ve done?

AH: Well, I can say that for the first time this year we will have on-campus, same-day voter registration because of the the partnership we established with the county. For the first time, ASUCD last year introduced a bill in the State Legislature. We wrote the language and we sponsored it. It got past the first house. I actually got the call yesterday that that bill is now actually dead, which was really sad. It was our first bill. I mean, when I talked to people, they were baffled that we even managed to do something like that in that short of the time that we had. But we’ve established a presence in the state that did not exist before. 

My office has established a partnership with the city of Davis to promote services for the homeless and Davis. It’s called the Davis Health Project. Actually today I set up a preliminary agreement with Unitrans to work with my office, H.O.P.E. at UC Davis and the city of Davis to provide a monthly allowance of bus passes to the homeless so they can get to services. We are at the moment pushing for a bill in the State Legislature that already has a backer. We’re just finalizing everything and that will be introduced soon.

You all published my statement on the Nishi project. The issue that has happened with Nishi, if that bill passes, will never happen to any student housing project anywhere in the state of California ever again. We’re working on that right now.

We have established UCSA statewide campaign chapters at Davis. They didn’t exist before. Now they do. There are four statewide campaigns. Each campus has a chapter. All four of them: Fund the UC, Racial Justice Now, UC We Vote and Acquire. Right now, Acquire is focused on undocumented student resources.

I, myself, was very much involved in the internal matters of ASUCD. That’s not going to be the case with future EAVPs. This year, this needed to be done internally. I kind of had to help out. One of my personal accomplishments was finishing the 10-year plan for ASUCD, which was endorsed by the Senate last night. The final version will be released tomorrow. I was supposed to send it out today, but it will be released tomorrow. That’s one of my personal accomplishments that I’m very proud of.

We have established a permanent partnership with multiple student organizations on campus to register students to vote. We started it last year and it’s still going this year. I’m fairly confident that it’s going to keep going for a few years in the future, and that we’ve set up the infrastructure for it to not end anytime soon.

We’ve established the UC Davis Lobby Corps as of a few days ago, which is how students can sign up and go lobby in their Capitol. We’ve had more or less, except for last quarter, we’ve had quarterly lobby days where we’ve opened it up to students who want to go lobby in the Capitol with us.

We have successfully supported multiple bills in the state legislature. We lobbied on Senate Bill 24 last year, which was Senator Connie Leva’s bill, along with many, many other organizations, to provide medication abortions, or the abortion pill, on college campuses in California. We worked on a few bills that failed last year, but we also worked on a bill to provide financial aid to students who are asylum and refugee recipients in the U.S. who still haven’t gotten their green cards, but they have their social security number.

That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m fairly certainly we’ve done more than that. My workload on a weekly basis has been between 30 to 50 hours, so I can’t remember everything we’ve managed to do.

TCA: As the editor-in-chief, I am on the Board of Unit Directing Students (BUDS) and serve as Chair. I have reached out to you via email to ask if you would like to have any involvement with BUDS. Is that something you would be interested in, and why or why not?

AH: Technically, bylawfully, I have a seat on BUDS. I have been reluctant to actually come to BUDS meetings just because I didn’t see it as very proper for a member of the Executive branch to be sitting in and be a member of BUDS. I didn’t want it to be a situation where I was in any way interfering with the operations of the units. I feel like the independence of the different units is critical to ASUCD’s success, while also the coordination and a certain level of oversight is critical.

I also think that the units should be able to operate independently. I didn’t want to establish a precedent where the EAVP, even though the EAVP has a seat on BUDS, I didn’t want to create a precedent where that involvement went too far. And so I basically avoided BUDS altogether. I have been thinking about coming to the meetings now that the fee referendum is on the table and as the Executive and the units are coordinating their efforts to inform do outreach about the fee referendum.

I feel like the EAVP’s purview is external affairs and the less involvement the EAVP has with the operations of the units, and the spaces that belong to the units, the better. That’s the reason I haven’t been too involved with BUDS.

TCA: With the fee referendum, it sounds like you’re in support of it. What have you done to support its passage?

AH: Well, I wrote, myself and President [Justin] Hurst, we came up with the 10-year plan, which is supposed to reassure students that this money is going to be put to good use. I have personally been in the fee referendum meetings, the meetings that have been done to come up with campaigning strategy with the Executive office. I have worked with the Controller and the President on actually coming up with a number and the language of the referendum. The language was mostly there, but I mostly worked with helping them come up with a number, and the 10-year plan was how we achieved coming up with that number.

I’ve also, in my capacity as a UCSA board member, spoken to UCSA and I’ve spoken to the University of California Office of the President and the Student Affairs department to make sure that the fee referendum proposal makes it through the UC Office of the President as fast as possible.

TCA: We don’t have any more time for any more questions, but do you have any questions for us, or do you have any additional comments, or any final thoughts based on things we haven’t specifically asked you about?

AH: I would just like to give a shout out to the staff that has been working with me this past year and a half. My legislative director, my new chief of staff, my organizing director and my communications director. They’ve been phenomenal, and we could not be as successful as we are now if we didn’t have a good staff.