Party Yields, Lopez Elected to VP Spot

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After a grueling four-hour debate divided along party lines, the ASUC Senate unanimously confirmed nominee Jose Luis Lopez as Academic Affairs vice president early yesterday morning.

When it appeared that the seven Student Action senators did not have enough support to push their own candidate, they simultaneously switched their votes to back Lopez.

After being sworn in, Lopez said he would focus on bringing back former office aides and recruiting new staffers. This will be a challenge, since only five out of 26 aides remain on staff, with many citing the controversy surrounding the office as their reason for leaving. Meanwhile, acting Academic Affairs Vice President Meredith Packer resigned Wednesday night, weary of partisan games.

"We will preserve existing programs and create new projects that can enrich the academic lives of the student body," Lopez said.

Several top aides, including former Cal-FACTS director Anyah Hoang, have pledged to return to the office if he was appointed, Lopez said.

The situation "looks bleak" for Cal-FACTS, which may not be published this spring.

"We'll have to re-evaluate how important those setbacks are and see if we can salvage the program," he said.

An initial deadlock broke when Student Action Senator Pav Singh said he would back Lopez in order to break the impasse. The Student Action senators had supported their party's candidate, Senator Cara Kim, for the position, initially blocking Lopez's confirmation.

When it looked like no candidate would be approved at all, the party's senators followed Singh's suggestion to back Lopez.

Senators divided into two camps while arguing over the nomination. The seven Student Action senators were pitted against 13 senators from Cal-SERVE, APPLE and minor parties, who supported Lopez. Fourteen votes are needed to confirm a nominee.

Lopez's supporters said the senate should trust the selection committee's decision, and cited his familiarity with the office. As the Cal-SERVE candidate for the position last spring, Lopez was 300 votes short of winning.

"Mr. Lopez has gone beyond familiarity with the office and has expanded it to include a vision of academic advocacy," said Green Party Senator Erwin Tam. "He understands the needs of the office, which needs recruitment and command abilities."

Lopez said his experiences as a coordinator of the Stiles Hall mentoring program, a city Housing Advisory Commission member and a former senator demonstrate his qualification.

But Student Action senators grilled Lopez in an apparent bid to ask the senate to reconsider their candidate. One senator criticized Lopez for his inexperience serving on Academic Senate committees, and noted Kim had such experience.

Student Action Senator Wally Adeyemo worried that with his busy schedule, Lopez did not have the time to be the vice president.

"(Executives) need to devote their whole life to the ASUC," he said.

When the initial senate decision failed to confirm Lopez by one vote, Student Action senators pushed to consider Kim. Rival senators refused.

"Cara (Kim) won't pass the senate," said independent Senator Richard Schulman, the selection committee chair. He said he did not want to be forced to approve Kim.

It became clear that unless one side backed down, come spring semester there would be no one to manage the office.

Then Singh, who had supported Kim, said he would back Lopez in order to break the impasse.

APPLE Senator Kenny Kamrin said he respects Singh's decision to compromise.

"The individualism and strong sense of right makes Pav an incredible senator," he said.

Student Action senators denied their initial support of Kim was partisan and said it was based on her qualifications. They criticized their colleagues for not allowing their candidate to be considered.

"I feel bad Cara didn't get a chance to present herself," Adeyemo said. "I thought Kim was the best for students, but I hope Lopez can outperform my expectations."

The move to support Kim was a partisan move by Student Action to keep the seat under party control, said Cal-SERVE Senator Evora Griffith.

"I think (Student Action) saw their candidate didn't have a chance. They realized they were outnumbered," she said. "They saw it would be really bad PR if they denied an academic vice president."


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