The Results Are In: SUA Candidates-Elect Gear Up

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After a contentious election season and low voter turnout, Student Union Assembly (SUA) candidate results were announced in Tuesday evening’s SUA meeting.

Several officer-elects expressed differences in opinion but emphasized a readiness to move past elections to work together in their new positions. The newly elected board also marks a moment in UCSC history — this is the first officer board comprised entirely of students of color according to the candidates.

“Students elected these officials because they saw something in them,” said President-elect Ayo Banjo. “[…] Now we’re in these positions and we got to do what we were put here to do. This is less of a ‘we won’ and more of ‘okay, we were just hired for a job.’ Now it’s time to get this job done.”

Participation in SUA proceedings were low in other areas as well. Five of the 10 colleges had nobody run for college representative roles, four of which were then filled by write-in candidates receiving fewer than 40 votes. Additionally, as results were announced, just three of the six elected candidates were present.

Campus elections ran from May 17-23 and 23.49 percent of the student body participated. Because the voter threshold of 25 percent to pass a measure was not reached, Measure 69 failed to be approved. This is not yet official, as the chancellor must first sign off before a campus announcement is made, said SUA elections commissioner Adam Selcov.

Read below to see the rest of the election results and hear from those stepping into SUA officer positions for the 2018-19 school year.

Ayo Banjo

President

Banjo’s first priority is to create Students United with Survivors, a student group to watchdog the Title IX system.

“The best thing that we can do, because [Title IX is] from the federal government, is that we need to start to trust the system more. And that can’t happen if Title IX continues to not reply or respond to complaints within a specific time period,” Banjo said.

He also hopes to make SUA more accessible to new members and strengthen communication with the student body through a newsletter and office hours in the Quarry.

Keshav Kumar

Vice President of Internal Affairs

With primary elections quickly approaching and general elections in November, Kumar hopes to increase student voter registration through residential life programs. He also hopes to increase SUA accessibility and give students room to make themselves heard throughout the university.

“[I want to ensure] that students understand the seat at the table that’s talked about so often is something that’s attainable at our university. [Having input] has to be fought for at times, but when we fight for it this is the form that it comes in,” Kumar said. “And so ensuring that activism and advocacy can find some sort of balance, with students who are very passionate finding their way into rooms with high-level administrators.”

Davon Thomas

Vice President of External Affairs

Thomas hopes to increase student participation in city and county politics and to use his position on the Santa Cruz METRO Board to establish student positions on additional boards and commissions in other areas of city affairs.

“When you’re talking about planning the city, how there’s not a lot of space to build and plan things, it’s important that students who are living in the city for 4-6 years have a say in what’s being built in the city,” Thomas said. “Making sure students are in those spaces is really important.”

He also plans to continue the fight against pending tuition hikes through lobbying in Sacramento.

When it comes to engaging with the student body, Thomas plans to attend ethnic and identity organization meetings to know the needs of those he lobbies for.

Enrique Yarce

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion

Yarce’s goals regarding campus climate include increasing cohesion among undocumented students on campus through more groups and retreats, establishing more food security through campus Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) programs and continuing his work with the Student Union Housing Working Group.

He also wants to continue to address levels of campus policing and push other recently elected SUA officers to take more political stances on issues addressing the student body.

“There are some people that I want to push on because some of them have said they are apolitical, but we need to pick sides,” Yarce said. “I do not believe in centrism so I feel that we need to actually have conversations about that.”

Lauren Woo

Vice President of Academic Affairs

Some of Woo’s first initiatives will build off their current work establishing an affordable textbook program.

“Textbook affordability […] really affects students abilities to succeed academically,” Woo said, “and obviously if it does that, if it hinders one’s ability to succeed, and that’s what we’re here for, then that has to be something that’s addressed immediately.”

They also expressed wanting to better communication with students before representing them in meetings with administrators.

Bella Bullock,

Vice President of Student Life

The SUA Food Pantry, which is facing relocation out of the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS), is at the top of Bullock’s list of to-do’s. She said she’s ready to do whatever she needs to do to find it a new space and ensure operations remain running smoothly.

“Just because [administrators] are giving me a hard time does not mean I am going to give up on the pantry,” Bullock said. “[…] We have so many testimonies and people saying ‘I really love and need this pantry,’ and I am not going to let that slip just because administration says no.”

Bullock also spoke about wanting to implement more events, such as concerts and wellness weeks and making SUA meetings less hostile.

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Laretta Johnson is co-editor in chief at City on a Hill Press. Before this, she wore many hats within City on a Hill, starting as a copy editor and working as copy chief, opinions editor, city news editor and campus news editor (at different times) over the past year and a half. She sees journalism that helps people understand things, whether it’s a portion of a complicated bureaucracy or the way systems of power function within the UC, as a way to help facilitate change. Beyond the walls of the Student Media Center, Laretta can be found riding her bike around town, cooking food with her 11 housemates, journaling, going on long neighborhood walks or convincing herself one more cup of coffee isn’t a bad idea.