Bridging Party Lines: 2010 ASUC Election Endorsements

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B.E.A.R.S. Initiative- ASUC Forum 2010

Two UC Berkeley students talk about the pros and cons of the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative.



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Student Advocate- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of Student Advocate for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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Executive Vice President Part 1- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of Executive Vice President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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Executive Vice President Part 2- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of Executive Vice President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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Academic Affairs Vice President Part 1- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of Academic Affairs Vice President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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Academic Affairs Vice President Part 2- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of Academic Affairs Vice President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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External Affairs Vice President Part 1- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of External Affairs Vice President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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President Part 1- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for ASUC President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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President Part 4- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for ASUC President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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President Part 3- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for ASUC President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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President Part 2- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for ASUC President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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External Affairs Vice President Part 2- ASUC Forum 2010

The students running for the position of External Affairs Vice President for the 2010-2011 school year answer questions about their platforms.



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2010 ASUC Endorsements

The Daily Californian issues its official endorsements for the 2010 ASUC elections. Clarification: This video may have implied that independent EVP candidate Christopher Franco is a voting member of the Store Operations Board. Franco is actually an ex-officio member.



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Every spring, The Daily Californian Senior Editorial Board issues its recommendations to campus voters on the most qualified candidates to hold ASUC executive offices. These endorsements are primarily based upon the candidates' performance in this newspaper's candidates forum and their existing legislative record, if any.

Last year, disillusioned by ASUC's continuous pattern of wastefulness and paralyzing partisanship, the Senior Editorial Board decided not to endorse any of the proposed candidates and instead to provide an elected officials' guide. But much has changed in these 12 months and UC Berkeley-indeed the University of California as a whole-finds itself at a crucial crossroads: a point where student leaders are needed now more than ever.

In contrast to the chaotic and embarrassing occurrences in ASUC politics last year, the senate and especially the executive officers have significantly improved upon the work of their predecessors. Rather than becoming embroiled in the typical bickering and distracting scandals of years past (the recall election of John Moghtader comes to mind), this year's elected ASUC officials have largely focused their efforts on the tangible and urgent issues that have arisen in the last academic year.

Faced with an intensifying recession and unrelenting budget cuts, our elected student leaders have been forced to decide whether to support the numerous campus protests or to remain boxed in by their job descriptions. And though Student Action is not ordinarily associated with activism, President Will Smelko has proven himself to be a reliable advocate for students of all backgrounds-whether they be athletes, engineers or protesters barricading themselves in Wheeler Hall.

It is within the context of campus upheaval-devastating cuts, record-high fee hikes and stunningly large demonstrations-that we chose to endorse this diverse combination of candidates. Representing Student Action, CalSERVE or no party at all, these five individuals possess the institutional knowledge, the practical experience and the leadership potential to guide this campus through the present crisis with poise and conviction.

Together, they have the promise to unite the varied elements that compose this campus in a manner that will encourage more effective student activism and more responsible student government.

Take our recommendations into consideration, but ultimately the choice is up to you. Regardless of your political leanings, be sure to vote over the next three days and exercise your right as a student to shape your experience at UC Berkeley.

President: Noah Stern

Current ASUC President Will Smelko has demonstrated that the leader of the ASUC is not automatically relegated to figurehead status. When the right person is in office, the ASUC president can truly have pivotal significance to the administration's treatment of students. A successful president must be one that embodies students' voices, ensuring the well-being of the ASUC through strong leadership and forceful negotiations with the campus and university administration.

With no end to the current budget crisis in sight, the need for decisive leadership from the head of our student government is clear and continuing. And in this context, Noah Stern of Student Action is the best candidate for the job.

Stern's performance in the forum perfectly encapsulated the rational, level-headed and mediating persona he has developed in his tenure as an ASUC senator. The way he has carried himself throughout his senatorial tenure speaks volumes: though he has a discernible constituency, Stern has made it a point to sometimes break from his party's mindset by seeing all sides of issues. Furthermore, Stern's party affiliation has not caused him to alienate those outside of Student Action.

However, this avoidance of the pettiness that so often plagues ASUC politics has also led Stern to extend these tendencies to an unhealthy extreme-his contention that the ASUC and its president ought to be apolitical actors was naive and misguided. And CalSERVE candidate Eunice Kwon was quite right to challenge them in the direct manner that she pursued at the forum.

In fact, the primary purpose of the ASUC-enriching students' lives in Stern's perspective or Kwon's vision of advocating for students, including through political causes-formed perhaps the starkest difference between the two candidates. Despite Kwon's correct instincts on this question, she lacks presence-that intangible quality that can separate true leaders from the forgettable alternatives.

We just can't picture her mediating pressing campus conflicts or standing up to administrators; in short, though she made some valid points, she doesn't strike us as a pragmatist. And her lackluster record in the senate reinforces our suspicion that she is just not a leader.

However, Stern could certainly learn something from her honest answers and political conviction. Her willingness to make "the unpopular decision" is brave stance, and she made a much greater effort than Stern to expand on the tired campaign rhetoric. He needs to recognize that being an effective president means more than being a person that everyone likes and that just acting the part doesn't cut it.

SQUELCH candidate Chad Kunert would actually be a contender in this race, if not for his needlessly offensive behavior at the forum and his upcoming graduation. Despite his regrettable conduct, his point about the sorry state of ASUC finances and the association's poor handling of these matters is a valuable lesson for the other candidates. One we hope Stern remembers if elected.

Though far from a perfect candidate, Stern has the amiable personality, the enthusiasm and the drive to help the campus effectively mediate the current crisis. Above all, we need a leader who can inspire us-and we see that potential in Noah Stern.

Vote Noah Stern for President.

External Affairs Vice President:Ricardo Gomez

Unlike the other executive offices, the best choice for external affairs vice president is undeniably clear-CalSERVE's Ricardo Gomez.

In the last semester and a half, Gomez has emerged as a capable and eloquent leader of student-organized activism against state disinvestment in higher education. Despite the violence and vandalism perpetrated by offshoots and extreme elements in this movement, Gomez has proven himself time and time again to be a reasonable and moderating leader above the chaotic fray.

Though Student Action candidate Bundit Kertbundit has qualifications that are relevant to the job, he did not wow us with his ideas or his presence. His "leave the porch lights on" campaign idea, one of his main platforms, didn't strike us as particularly innovative or even feasible. Beyond his two mainstay proposals ("leave the porch lights on" and a crime texting program), he never got past vague statements when outlining his vision for the office. And he just has not had the depth of organizing experience that Gomez has, especially on the issues of budget cuts and fee hikes.

An important distinction between the two is that Gomez, unlike so many other candidates, has actually made tangible achievements in his budding organizing career. Among these would be his leadership in the wildly successful voter registration drive on campus in 2008 and the founding of the well-known group Berkeley Students Against the Cuts, which helped jump-start campus activism last semester.

Somewhat surprisingly, Gomez's preparedness for the external affairs position also extends to his knowledge of city issues; he responded to a question regarding pervasive crime in Berkeley quite rationally, espousing a common-sense approach that's shared by UCPD. And we were glad to hear that he's even taken the initiative of speaking with city officials about the problem.

Well-informed, articulate and passionate, Gomez is the ideal candidate for this position, and we have no doubts that he will be an effective and dedicated lobbyist for all UC Berkeley students at the local, state and national level.

Vote Ricardo Gomez for EAVP.

Executive Vice President: Christopher Franco

Judging by the efficiency of ASUC Senate meetings, the overall success of recent executive vice presidents has largely been based on how much experience they've had on day one. As the second-highest ranking executive officer, the EVP must have an extensive knowledge of the association's operating procedures and a level-headed, fair manner of dealing with other elected officials.

Among this officer's many duties, chairing senate meetings and serving as a voting member on the Store Operations Board are two of the most important. And with this array of candidates, the one with the best chance to fulfill these duties effectively and fairly is independent candidate Christopher Franco.

It would be ludicrous to bring in an EVP who hasn't served as a senator and lacks familiarity with this body, regardless of his or her other worthy qualifications. This is why Student Action candidate Nanxi Liu, despite competent responses to our questions at the forum, is not the best candidate for the job. Though she made a strong case for her coldly efficient approach, adopted in her time as associate finance officer, her desire for the senate to serve as a "resource hub" didn't exactly point to an informed institutional perspective.

But her emphasis on effectiveness should be an essential takeaway for whomever is eventually elected to the position, given the lingering problem of delayed officer appointments by the senate.

On the other hand, CalSERVE candidate Lean Deleon has served as a senator this year and is likely quite familiar with Robert's Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure. However, his booming personality and blinding focus on the CalSERVE agenda lead us to question whether he can truly be the neutral facilitator the senate needs at its helm. And though he is a senator, his record doesn't really stand out.

More importantly, though, Franco stands head and shoulders above the competition in terms of experience with the Store Operations Board-he actively served as an ex-officio member of the board this year, while Deleon (and Liu) attended a few meetings at most.

Despite our belief that Franco is by and large the most qualified for the position, we'll be the first to say that his performance at the forum was far from impressive. Nerves got the best of him, and he choked at a critical moment. To be a successful EVP, he'll need to greatly hone his speaking skills and build his confidence as a leader.

Looking at the candidates overall, we chose to endorse Franco despite his off night. Especially because he's free of binding partisan ties, Franco could be just the antidote to the pervasive atmosphere of partisanship in the senate.

Vote for Christopher Franco for EVP.

Academic Affairs Vice President: Viola Tang

Charged with carrying out academically related events and leading the ASUC's relations with the Academic Senate, the academic affairs vice president is generally one of the least contentious executive positions. But it has gained a new level of importance in this year of devastating budget cuts, debilitated departments and decreasing access to resources.

With a significant degree of hesitation, we endorse Viola Tang of CalSERVE for this position. Though Tang and Student Action candidate Yoori Chung exhibit vastly different approaches, both showed serious defects in their forum performances.

Chung failed to bring many compelling ideas to the table, despite her experience serving on an academic advisory committee and in the AAVP office. Other than her idea for a shadowing program to prepare student appointees on these committees for their roles, she was unremarkable and uninspiring.

Tang, on the other hand, took her allegiance to CalSERVE to the extreme, tainting an otherwise convincing appearance with partisan mudslinging. On credentials alone, she's qualified for the position, having served as an ASUC senator and clearly grasping the importance of the AAVP's responsibility to appoint students to the Chancellor's advisory committees.

It's her sometimes grating personality that we worry about. She could learn from the example set by Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Damien Anderson on how to make a statement while still being composed and amicable. Anderson also proposed a common-sense improvement-a campus-wide survey of students-that the winner ought to look into implementing.

Though Tang clearly takes the task of representing (some) students very seriously, she needs to learn the difference between passionate advocacy and outright hostility. If she could steer away from her alienating tone, we believe Tang could be a strong advocate for students' voices-or, at least a significantly stronger one than Chung.

In this respect, their answers on whether they would work with or against the administration to fight for students was quite telling. Tang's answer hinted at a decidedly proactive approach, while Chung tended toward the passive and reactionary-she would cooperate with administrators but be open to students' complaints if they were dissatisfied.

If she is elected, Tang must be careful not to antagonize the administration. An essential component of the job is working with these people and remaining civil despite ideological differences. But in toning her hostility down, we hope she retains her fiery drive to defend the student voice, whatever the cost. It's a passion that we need in our representatives, especially when our interests are being threatened left and right.

Vote for Viola Tang for AAVP.

Student Advocate: Kelly Fabian

Among the executive officer positions, the student advocate is unique. The office is non-partisan and thus substantially less subject to the divisive politics that otherwise accompany ASUC campaigns, elections and governance. But because of the numerous services provided by the SAO, this office, out of all the executives, has one of the most direct impacts on students' lives.

Though guidance provided by the student advocate on financial aid or grade problems is, of course, valuable, the officer's duties have become significantly more important given the tense relationship between student protesters and the campus and UC administration. The candidate with the experience to lead this office is independent Kelly Fabian.

Currently Fabian, a former employee of The Daily Californian, is chief-of-staff to Student Advocate Hassan Khan, and clearly demonstrates intimate knowledge of the Code of Student Conduct and the office's activities. The one real negative to Fabian is that she campaigned on a platform of more of the same-a natural consequence of electing a candidate who already serves in his or her office of choice.

Competition for the office has become essentially superfluous because it is a non-partisan position and usually a current staffer runs in the election. The student body can be reliably expected to vote for whomever appears the most qualified and receives the endorsement of the two major parties.

Though barely visible, the office of student advocate serves an important duty by providing counsel to students charged with violations of ASUC, campus or UC rules and presenting the ASUC's position to the administration in discussions on students' rights and conduct. With an increasing level of politicization in the way Student Code of Conduct violations are being charged, we foresee a more activist role for the office in advocating on students' behalf-and we have faith in Fabian's ability to fulfill the office's evolving responsibilities.

Vote for Kelly Fabian for student advocate.

B.E.A.R.S. Initiative: Vote "Yes"

This year, students will have the opportunity to decide whether Lower Sproul redevelopment is a cause worthy of their funding, through a proposition entitled the Bringing Energy and Revitalization to Sproul (B.E.A.R.S.) Initiative. For years, both parties have waved the banner for redevelopment in ASUC elections; executives have based their platforms on it and plugged this seemingly inexhaustible idea during their tenure. Yet nothing has really changed-until now.

After more than a decade of efforts, student leaders have developed an innovative and exciting plan to redevelop Lower Sproul Plaza, potentially transforming it from a seismically unsafe campus eyesore to an environmentally sustainable hub for student life at UC Berkeley. The promise of this vision and the hard work it has taken to get this far prompts our endorsement of a "yes" vote on the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative.

Before examining the many benefits this plan offers, we must acknowledge that its timing is poor. After a year of historic fee hikes, asking students to shell out more money for a project that virtually none will see to fruition is an unenviable task.

With the largest campus deficit in recent memory, naysayers have an easy argument against the initiative. But, in this case, the eventual benefits will outweigh the costs-and then some.

An especially smart move in crafting the provision is that, at any given time, students are getting what they pay for. Fee levels have been pegged to proportionally match the benefits to the student body. Among the immediate changes will be the moving of the Career Center to 2440 Bancroft and the opening up of Hearst Gym studios for dance practices.

Like everyone else, we're not eager to pay even more in fees next semester. But beyond the glaring dollar signs in the

immediate future, we envision dramatically revitalized student life on this campus in the years to come-enabled by accessible spaces for meetings, shows and events, more commercial spaces to bring revenue to the ASUC and more plentiful resources within students' reach.

It has taken years just to get to this point. For this plan to even be considered possible is a huge achievement, and students may never be able to drive as hard a bargain as they could this year. Proponents weren't exaggerating; now really could be the only chance for Lower Sproul redevelopment in the foreseeable future.

Vote "yes" on the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative.

Clarification: A video accompanying this endorsement may have implied that independent EVP candidate Christopher Franco is a voting member of the Store Operations Board. Franco is actually an ex-officio member.

Tags: ASUC ELECTIONS 2010






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