EAVP Candidates Aim for Student Voice in Politics

The External Affairs Vice President's Job Includes Representing Students' Interests in Issues That Are Outside the Campus

Photo: From left to right: Hayden Greif-Neill, James Gambrell, Ratha Lai, Joey Freeman
From left to right: Hayden Greif-Neill, James Gambrell, Ratha Lai, Joey Freeman

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Increasing student involvement and representation in the political process are among the platforms of the four candidates competing for the position of External Affairs Vice President in the 2011 ASUC General Election.

Responsibilities of the office include representing the ASUC in matters outside the direct scope of UC Berkeley, supervising governmental lobbying on behalf of the student government and acting as the ASUC representative to the UC Student Association.

In light of Gov. Jerry Brown's $500 million cut to the UC system - which may be doubled if a tax extension is not approved by voters - candidates said they would work to fight for students' political interests if elected.

Student Action candidate and current senator Joey Freeman said responding to budget cuts would be one of the primary focuses of his term.

"It's really just unacceptable that our fees continue to rise," Freeman said. "Other sources of revenue are not being identified, and a lot of the burden is being placed on students' backs."

To encourage student engagement, Freeman said he would advocate for an issue alert system by which students would be notified via email when important education issues arise.

Both Freeman and independent candidate Ratha Lai said they would like to see more involvement with the Berkeley City Council.

Lai - who is currently the organizing and community development director at the Bridges Multicultural Center on campus - said he has been working on a "higher education pledge" with Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington that would call for no additional cuts to education in the future.

SQUELCH! candidate Hayden Greif-Neill also expressed an interest in working with the city.

"If I were elected, I'd probably try to conquer the entirety of Telegraph Avenue, because as EAVP, I would have jurisdiction over student interactions in the outside world," he said.

He added that he is a "living god" and that there should not even be an election because he is "obviously the most qualified candidate."

Lai said he would work with the UC Student Association to advocate for more student seats on the UC Board of Regents and establish a student political presence through lobbying efforts.

"This is not going to be a single one-man show," he said. "I'll have a staff, but we will act more as ... leaders."

Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate James Gambrell said his campaign is about mobilizing students against the budget cuts and the "descent of public education."

"It's about the movement," Gambrell said. "If we can get the student body mobilized and we can get them to Sacramento, this stuff can be reversed, but we have to speak up - speaking up is half the battle, and we have to do that much."

Citing the cost of his own tuition - which he called "outrageous" - Gambrell said he was motivated to become a leader and get other students involved in speaking out against the ongoing cuts.

Though the office has currently directed much of its attention towards activism, Freeman said he would support those efforts while directing more attention towards the traditional political field, where he said he hopes to produce legislative results by lobbying and communicating with politicians.

Lai said he would also commit the office to activism and political lobbying, attempting to "go full throttle on both."

"Once we do that, then what are they going to do?" he said.


J.D. Morris is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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