The Triton’s Editorial Board endorses Forward! vice president of campus affairs (VPCA) candidate Samuel J.W. Fleet for the 2020 Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Election.
On May 10, the Board interviewed two VPCA candidates: Samuel J.W. Fleet for Forward! and Hannah Krietman for BOLD. If elected, this would be Fleet’s first position in ASUCSD, whereas Kreitman just finished a term as Speaker of the Senate and Advocate General. Both candidates were asked a series of general and individual candidate-specific questions to help us better understand their goals and priorities as candidates.
The VPCA oversees multiple campus committees and assumes the position and powers of the President should a vacancy of office occur. The following committees are under the VPCA’s jurisdiction: AS Concerts and Events (ASCE), the Offices of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Environmental Justice Affairs, and Athletic Relations. VPCA chairs the senate and oversees any further duties delegated by the Council.
We are endorsing Samuel Fleet over Hannah Kreitman because we believe his goals, to look critically at the ASUCSD budget, to streamline certain AS departments, and to increase transparency, could yield positive change for the UCSD community. Furthermore, when describing his plans he spoke articulately and provided detail needed for the Board to feel he has a good chance of executing his ideas efficiently.
While some have criticised his slate as “anti-AS”, we found Fleet’s attitude to be sufficiently critical to yield change, yet cooperative enough to accomplish his goals. Throughout the interview, he deftly advocated for systematic budget changes without being disagreeable or becoming a pariah. “A huge part of this [budget and organizational reform] is talking to the new AVPs. I am not exacting the Will of God, that would be a gross overstatement of the actual power that I have or want to have,” explained Fleet. “It’s really more about preaching responsibility and making AS work better for everyone.”
Not only do we appreciate Fleet’s outlook, we fundamentally agree with his proposed budget changes. Particularly, his plan to reduce ASCE budget costs where possible, cutting chiefs of staff for some departments if and only if departments agree, and putting more money into the hands of the Senate to re-allocate. He hopes more money in the Senate could propel other projects, including revamping the Food Pantry and implementing peer counseling.
Fleet’s plan to increase transparency in ASUCSD is as follows: improving the consistency and timeliness with which the Senate posts meeting minutes, updating the microphones in the Senate chambers to improve clarity of meeting recordings, and reducing or eliminating closed door Senate meetings. In order to maintain transparency within his own office, Fleet wants to “create a hub to view budget usage and be more transparent because the executive budget is not very specific about where money is going. Monthly reports. No closed meetings.”
Fleet’s ideas on office restructuring also appear to be sensible. We were particularly impressed by his idea to create a Food Pantry app where students can select food online and pick it up from lockers. Furthermore, he wants to allow students to spread out their points at the Pantry over the course of the week, rather than limiting students to one visit per week. His goal with these changes is to alleviate any stigma students may feel and make shopping fit better into day-to-day life, which can be particularly challenging on our large campus. The other major structural change Fleet advocates is to combine the Office of Environmental Justice Affairs with the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in hopes of streamlining overlaps in programming and increasing funding to these offices.
Fleet may lack experience in ASUCSD; however, unlike many students on campus who criticize student government, he is actually trying to make changes. We are not endorsing Fleet just because we think he is an example to the UCSD community, but because he is the best candidate for the job. His policies are well thought out, his perspective provides concrete solutions to problems rather than leaning on bureaucracy. He was able to thoroughly answer our questions as well as difficult follow up questions in a way that secured our confidence in his ability to be an effective VPCA.
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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