Campaigning for Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) campus-wide elections began on Sunday, May 10, after a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are 22 candidates running for 14 positions this year on two slates: Forward! and BOLD, as well as five independent candidates. Both slates have released their official platforms on their respective websites.
Forward! contains four candidates running for the positions of president, vice president of campus affairs, and two campus-wide senators. If elected, this would be all members of the Forward!’s first position on ASUCSD.
The slate is running to institute wide-scale reforms of ASUCSD. According to its platform, their top two goals out of ten pledges that make up their platform are to streamline the ASUCSD budget to prioritize student services over bureaucratic costs, and to extensively alter the ASUCSD constitution to a parliamentary system they believe would be more democratic.
Forward!’s budget reform plan begins with authorizing a spending review to determine where costs can be cut and better allocated. Proposed cuts include terminating the Triton Dine events and ASUCSD’s yearly retreats. The slate argues that Triton Dine is an inefficient way of addressing food insecurity on campus and that it’s $23,000 budget could be used to better address the issue. They also believe that the retreats only benefit ASUCSD members and therefore are not worth the $10,000 expense. The ASUCSD 2019-20 budget backs up these figures.
According to the platform, saved costs will be reallocated to organizations that benefit the students directly, namely to fund some of Forward!’s other pledges: revamping the Triton Food Pantry and reinstituting a student-controlled television service.
Forward!’s other major plan is to draft an entirely new constitution for ASUCSD by replacing the current Constitution, standing rules, and governmental structure with a parliamentary system, something they hope will be more democratic.
“The way AS is structured now inhibits effective representation and efficiency while also promoting weak and unstable government. It is a system in dire need of reform and radical improvement,” the slate explains on their website.
Forward!’s tentative timeline for constitutional reform begins with holding a special referendum to assess student support of a new constitution. If passed, the process of drafting a new constitution would begin and a temporary constitution implementing the parliamentary system would replace the current ASUCSD Constitution. The drafting period would last until Week 5 of Winter Quarter 2022. Students would then vote to either implement the new constitution or revert back to the previous ASUCSD Constitution. While this is occuring, the slate claims that the student government would function normally.
Forward! also has action plans to increase ASUCSD transparency, publish a financial management guide, form a peer counselling program, increase the student organization budget to $600,000, create avenues for student artistic expression, and research a student-oriented rideshare service. Specific details outlining these plans can be found on their website.
BOLD has 13 candidates in running in the election: one for each of the three executive board roles, four campus-wide senator candidates, two off-campus senator candidates, and one candidate for each of the four department senator roles.
BOLD’s platform centers around student advocacy and outreach. It consists of three major principles: basic needs issues, advocating for inclusivity and belonging, and promoting outreach initiatives. Each candidate’s specific goals for their position can be found on BOLD’s website. Many of the slate’s members have experience in ASUCSD or previously held positions in their college councils.
In order to improve basic needs accommodations, BOLD hopes to alleviate housing and food insecurity by increasing accessibility to established institutions dedicated to these goals. They also want to increase accessibility to physical and mental health care as well as push to prevent increases in student tuition at the University of California (UC) system-wide level. Specific action plans for these goals were not outlined in their platform.
According to the BOLD website, the slate intends to, “support first-generation, low-income, LGBTQ+, minority, and undocumented students by advocating for their rights on- and off-campus,” in their goal of promoting inclusion and belonging at UCSD. Additionally, in terms of outreach, BOLD intends to create online forums where students feel comfortable presenting their ideas and critiques. According to their website, they will also provide “clear pathways and connections” between students and administrative officials. Information about how the slate plans to achieve these goals were not provided.
While Forward! presents a substantially more detailed outline of their intentions compared to BOLD, their plans to institute a new constitution will prove challenging to accomplish since they will have to codify and outline their new governmental structures while still running ASUCSD’s daily functions. Furthermore, based on the long drafting period proposed, the creation of a new constitution would exceed the one year term of ASUCSD members.
BOLD’s platform lacks specific details on how they intend on achieving their goals. It is expected that they will expand on their platform during the ASUCSD Election Debates that will be held on Monday, May 18, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Triton will be moderating these debates.
Besides the slates, there are five candidates running independently. Current Arts and Humanities Senator An “Harry” Huang is the only independent candidate running for an executive position, namely for vice president of external affairs. According to Huang’s candidate statement he intends to assert the values and opinions of UCSD students in the UC Student Association (UCSA), the student representative government at the UC system-wide level.
Huang intends to support student-led lobbying initiatives by giving people access to the funds and resources they need to effectively support their cause. Huang also vows not to compromise with the school administration and will push them to fund programs such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and school internet using their funds rather than rely on student fees.
In addition to voting on ASUCSD candidates, students will be voting on the CAPS Fee Referendum, where an additional student fee would be added to fund campus mental health services. In order to pass, the referendum first requires 20% of the student body to participate in the election in general or else it will automatically fail. If a majority of that 20% support the new fee, it will pass and be added to future student fees.
Students will cast their votes on TritonLink. ASUCSD voting will be from 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18 to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Election results will be available at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 22.
Samir Nomani is the News Editor of The Triton. You can follow him @samir_the_first.