The Triton’s Editorial Board endorses BOLD vice president of external affairs (VPEA) candidate Alisha Saxena in the 2020 Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Election.
According to the ASUCSD Constitution, the VPEA is ASUCSD’s representative member to the University of California Student Association (UCSA), the student government for the entire UC system. The VPEA acts as the liaison between our campus and the rest of the UC system and represents the interest of UCSD students at the local, state, and federal levels of government. Furthermore, VPEA is often present at Board of Regents meetings to raise student concerns over issues that directly affect students such as tuition, Title IX legislation, basic needs insecurities, and voter accessibility.
The Board interviewed Alisha Saxena and independent candidate An “Harry” Huang on May 10. We were thoroughly impressed with both candidates and found it difficult to make a decision. Ultimately, we chose to endorse Saxena over Huang due to her significant knowledge and understanding of ASUCSD and the VPEA role as well as the depth of her policy goals for the office.
Saxena has worked in the Student Organized Voter Access Committee (SOVAC), the Office of Local Affairs, and volunteer work for the Triton Food Pantry. Although having experience in a role is not a singular predictor of success, Saxena’s specific experiences within the Office of Local Affairs and SOVAC together with the mastery she demonstrated in her interview show she has the know-how to take on this position. Furthermore, her passion for the work came across in her interview. We feel this is also an important quality in VPEA as they will be advocating for student needs.
A key focus of Saxena’s platform is making student government more accessible to the average UCSD student. In her interview, she described plans to create a Transparency Audit Team composed of non-ASUCSD students to make sure legislation is easily understandable to all students, not just ASUCSD members. We believe accessibility and clarity are critical for ASUCSD to act with transparency in the service of students.
Further adhering to the principle of accessibility, Saxena emphasized the need to get more students involved in advocacy. She plans to have students attend University of California Student Association (UCSA) conferences with her. Saxena told us that she doesn’t “think people realize that UCSA board meetings are public. Whenever their representatives are speaking, I would love to increase the public integration with the UCSA meetings.” We believe this would be a great opportunity for students to get their voices heard and learn about how ASUCSD and the UC system work.
Though travel is not possible for the Office at this time due to the pandemic, Saxena still has plans to limit travel expenses in the future should travel become possible again during her term. Specifically, she will book flights and other transportation well in advance of expected conferences to ensure low prices and minimal extra expenses for students who want to attend.
When asked about ensuring the voices of minority communities would be heard, Saxena suggested forming minority caucuses for legislative and lobbying purposes. Saxena believes that the LGBT resource center having to organize their own lobbies means “we didn’t do our job. Regardless of your advocacy experience, I want your ideas to be heard.” She hopes that in the future, the Office of External Affairs will be better able to empower students to directly advocate for their needs. The Editorial Board appreciated Saxena’s ability to identify failures in the Office and find concrete solutions.
Though the VPEA role is particularly focused on advocating for student interests at the local, state and federal levels, the VP can still complete projects on campus. In this capacity, Saxena wants to continue her previous efforts to improve access to menstrual products for all who require them. According to Saxena, at present, products are not easily accessible due to both the limited places to purchase them on campus and the high cost for these products. If elected, Saxena hopes to create avenues for cheap convenient access to menstrual products: decreasing cost at campus stores and increasing resources to free products.
In regards to the office’s budget, Saxena believes she will be able to host more programming virtually for a lower cost overall. She will not spend excessively and will work within the means of the office without having to rely on funds meant for other ASUCSD offices. It is this prudence, along with her experience and commitment to inclusion which makes Saxena an ideal candidate for VPEA.
Although we are endorsing Saxena, this does not mean that her competition, independent candidate and current arts and humanities senator An “Harry” Huang would do poorly in the VPEA role. Huang is very passionate about student advocacy and ensuring that ASUCSD is as democratic as possible, a perspective bolstered by his proposed ASUCSD constitutional amendment to make the international and out-of-state senator positions directly elected by students. Furthermore, the Board supports his plan to dedicate less money to leadership conferences in favor of allowing more students to attend UCSA and Regents meetings where they can directly advocate for the needs of their community. We also commend his stance to not compromise with the school administration when it comes to funding mental health services and other basic student needs. We encourage Huang to continue to work in student government in roles relating to student advocacy, perhaps even in collaboration with Saxena.
Ultimately, Alisha Saxena is deserving of our endorsement or the 2020 ASUCSD Election because of her remarkable knowledge and planned policies for VPEA. She offered clear, feasible plans for the office which we believe she can execute effectively based on her abilities, experience, and passion.
To hear from the candidates directly, ASUCSD will be hosting Election Debates today from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Students can vote on TritonLink. ASUCSD voting began at 10:00 a.m. today and will last until 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Election results will be available at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 22.
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