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2021 ASUCD Fall Elections — Meet the Candidates

This fall, seven candidates are running for senate, two for external affairs vice president, one for international student representative and one for transfer student representative

By CHRISTINE LEE, JENNIFER MA, EMILY REDMAN and GABY SAINZ-MEDINA — campus@theaggie.org

The following candidates are running in ASUCD’s 2021 Fall Elections for elected official positions in student government. One external affairs vice presidential (EAVP) candidate was not interviewed because they did not respond to interview requests. 

Elections will take place from Monday, Nov. 8 at 12 p.m. to Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. Students can vote online at elections.ucdavis.edu

Senate:

Radhika Gawde (Independent), a second-year political science major, said she is running for senate because she wants to have a platform where she can use her voice to take on advocacy issues. Currently, as the chairperson of the Internal Affairs Commission (IAC), Gawde must remain impartial, and she wishes to broaden her ability to speak about issues that matter to her. Her platform includes putting student fees back in students’ hands, reforming Equitable Access for all majors and academic accommodations, specifically menstrual accommodations. Gawde is confident in her ability to ensure student needs will be met, as she has both experience and endorsements. Along with prior experience in ASUCD, she is currently a lead fellow with the McNerney for Congress Campaign. 

Gaius Ilupeju (Independent), a first-year political science and public service double major, said he is running for ASUCD senate to advocate for students. His platforms revolve around creating more inclusion and accessibility. Ilupeju wants to include students by making meetings such as Town Halls available online and to make units, such as The Pantry, more accessible to students. He has experience in community advocacy groups along with participating in his high school student government. As a first-year student, he wants to advocate for freshmen and give them a voice in ASUCD. 

Dennis Liang (BASED), a fourth-year economics and history major, is currently working in the Students Advocate’s Office (SAO) as the vice academic director. Liang’s platform includes advocating for mandated recorded lectures, increasing student wages and increasing the pass-no-pass deadline to help students transition back to in-person learning. According to Liang, recorded lectures for all classes would give students an incentive to stay home if they are sick. He wants to work on getting Unitrans back to being fully employed, especially as students rely on this service during colder weather, as well as the CoHo, as its early closing time means fewer study spots.

Kelechi Orji (BASED), a second-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior (NPB) major, said he is running for senate because he wants to create a campus environment where everyone feels heard and recognized. Orji feels that the transition to college can be challenging without a community or support, something he personally struggled with as a Nigerian-American international student. He believes his personal experiences, along with his roles as the commissioner for the Environmental Policy and Planning Commission (EPPC) and a Student Health and Wellness Committee member, make him qualified to advocate for the student body. His platform includes fostering representation, understanding the needs of communities, increasing sustainable practices on campus and improving the mental health resources at UC Davis. If elected, Orji said he promises to be a resource to any student who wants their voice heard. 

Celeste Palmer (Independent), a second-year political science major, is running for senate because she is passionate about environmental issues and wants to push for more awareness of ASUCD elections. She is running as an independent candidate because she believes that partisanship is counterproductive for student government. She has experience working for a state legislator, was the president of her high school’s climate club and the treasurer of the debate club. Palmer did not list platforms for this election cycle because she believes people who do so do not end up achieving them. She does have ideas of what she wants to have enacted, however, such as a ban on plastic bottles in campus stores, and she wants to advocate for ASUCD to use its influence to focus more on climate change.

Adrian Rozo (Independent), a first-year political science and economics double major, said he is running for senate because he wants to make UC Davis a more democratic, engaged and just community. He has experience working as an executive staffer, a position he started this fall. Rozo’s platforms include three primary goals: community, inclusion and progress. His focus is on being an advocate for students, and he emphasized the passion he holds for helping and engaging with students.

Sofia Saraj (BASED), a second-year linguistics and NPB double major, said she is running for ASUCD because she wants to create lasting change within the association. She has experience in advocacy work that includes founding a social media based hub for activists and leading a fundraiser for newly arrived Afghan refugees that were displaced. Her platforms include student outreach and accessibility, sustainability and better business practices and advocating for underrepresented communities. Saraj aims to achieve these platforms by promoting communication through social media, hosting a campus-wide involvement fair, educating students about the magnitude of the climate crisis and more. Additionally, she plans to work with the pantry to accommodate dietary restrictions due to cultural or religious beliefs. 

External Affairs Vice President:

Shruti Adusumilli (Independent), a third-year political science and computer science double major, is running for re-election for EAVP. Having been in this role for about six months, she wants to continue working on her ongoing projects and seeing them through to completion. Adusumilli’s platforms include increasing civic engagement and equity in education. She thinks that college students are one of the most poorly represented groups in U.S. elections and wants to make sure that student voices are heard. Adusumilli is advocating for a non-instructional election day across the UC system to prevent students from needing to decide to attend class, go to work or vote. Asusumilli also wants to implement quarterly surveys for students to report the barriers in their education they have encountered.

Transfer Student Representative:

Tariq Azim (Independent), a fourth-year political science major, said he is running to be the transfer student representative because he wants to be a voice for other transfer students on campus. Azim is currently serving as the interim transfer student representative and wants to continue the momentum his office has established and complete projects that will represent transfer students on campus. While in community college, Azim was a part of the Student Center for California Community Colleges as a legislative affairs director representing 12 community colleges, and he served as the chair of the Transfer Re-Entry and Veterans Committee at UC Davis. Currently, Azim is serving as the Transfer Student Affairs Officer for the UC Student Association. Azim’s goals in this position are to make transfer orientation more directed towards the experience of transfer students and eliminating the negative stigma surrounding transferring from community college.

International Student Representative:

Keven Zhou (Independent), a second-year managerial economics major, is running to be the international student representative because he wants to advocate for other international students. Zhou said he wants to work with the other international organizations on campus to create a coalition to make a concentrated group of representatives. Currently, Zhou is serving as the interim international student representative and wants to continue the work he has started in setting up the office and engaging with students. This is a new position with ASUCD, and Zhou hopes to use the first year to create the coalition and to listen to the ideas of international students so he can represent them accurately. As an international student himself, Zhou said he understands the struggles international students face and wants to celebrate diversity on campus.

Written by: Christine Lee, Jennifer Ma, Emily Redman and Gaby Sainz-Medina — campus@theaggie.org

Campus News Editor Sophie Dewees also contributed to this report.

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