April 27, 2016

Letter: Outgoing United Progress Slate Weighs in on Current SG Election

When we reflect on our time participating in Student Government (SG), we find that much of our work leads back to the underlying principle that students should have a substantial role in the governance of their university. From leading the effort to enroll the College in the U-Pass program to fighting for more resources for low-income, first-generation graduate and international students, we’ve devoted our time at this university to transforming Student Government into a place where students can effect change on their campus.

As the current Executive Slate, we recognize the need for future leaders to approach this work in an open and collaborative way. Perhaps more now than at any point in recent history, SG is at a crucial crossroads. The budget recommendation put forward last week by the Executive Committee will increase resources for RSOs, academic teams, arts groups, and graduate students, but it will require care to implement. And securing more resources for all students will require undergraduate and graduate students working hand-in-hand, as partners in an effort to involve all students in the operation of SG and University governance.

We are prepared to endorse any and all slates that we feel are equipped to carry on the work of leading SG. This might seem odd given that a slate is running under the same banner we were elected under last spring. However, our allegiance lies not with a particular banner but instead with the institution of SG, and its ability to meet the needs of students and student organizations on this campus. With this in mind, we reached out to Our Campus and United Progress. We felt each of these slates shared our values and vision for what SG can and should be, and we sought to meet with them in order to share our experience in this role.

Our invitation to meet was ultimately declined by Our Campus, who said their campaign manager was opposed to our meeting. The work of Executive Slate requires a commitment to open dialogue both leading up to and throughout its term, and this lack of engagement required us to rely on their platform to evaluate their positions. On what is arguably the most important function of Executive Slate—oversight of the SG budget—their platform suggests a lack of familiarity with many critical aspects of the RSO funding process, and calls for the creation of services that already exist. This is concerning because the budget proposal put forward this year by SG’s Executive Committee and the stability of student organizations’ access to funding require an Executive Slate which understands the nuance of the SG budget and is able to work to direct more resources in support of student life. We are also concerned by their platform’s failure to recognize the many existing efforts to address equity and access on campus—issues that they claim to center their platform around. Despite initially launching a platform that supported the right of graduate students to pursue the formation of a union, this has since been edited out. Pushing back against administrative attempts to undermine graduate students’ ability to form a union is an area in which SG can and should play a role, and we find this quiet rollback of support concerning.

In our view, there is one clear choice for Executive Slate: United Progress, made up of Eric Holmberg, Salma Elkhaoudi, and Cody Jones. Having served with Eric and Salma, we can speak to their work ethic, diligence, and record of working to address the issues that we agree matter. Eric played a key role in the formation of the Executive Committee budget recommendation that will increase funding for RSOs and has led efforts to implement a living wage on campus. Salma has been a consistent voice in pushing for expanded funding for RSOs through her role on SGFC, advocating for the needs of students of color. She has also has worked to re-establish direct student appointment powers to the Independent Review Committee of the UCPD—a necessary part of ending racial profiling by the UCPD. Cody is a much-needed voice capable of advocating for the unique needs of graduate students, which include access to affordable health care, fair wages, and expanded support for resources for professional development and the childcare stipend program. His voice and experience are crucial given that two-thirds of the students that SG represents are graduate students, and the needs of graduate students will continue to play a major role in future conversations about the SG budget. We believe that Eric, Salma, and Cody have the vision, the experience, and the know-how to continue creating a stronger SG that advocates for a stronger, more democratic University for all students. We are proud to support them in their candidacy for Executive Slate.

— Tyler Kissinger, Alex Jung, and Kenzo Esquivel, current Student Government Executive Slate

Editor’s note: When contacted, Our Campus confirmed that they chose not to meet with the current Executive Slate, though they clarified that it was a collective decision made based on Paragraph 6 of Article III of the Student Government Election Code which states: “Collusion between separate slates, for the purpose of campaigning or undermining other slates may be punishable by vote penalties.”

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