The Triton’s Editorial Board will not be endorsing a presidential candidate in the 2020 Associated Students of UC San Diego (ASUCSD) Election. The Board believes that though both Kimberly Giangtran and Patrick Miencharoen have qualities that make them viable presidents, they ultimately both have crucial weaknesses that make us apprehensive of endorsing either candidate.
The president serves as the official representative of ASUCSD. Critically, they formulate ASUCSD’s annual budget with approval from the financial controller and present it to the Senate. The president oversees several offices that impact the student experience at UCSD including the Offices of Academic Affairs, Food and Housing Resources, and Student Advocacy. Barring the Judicial Board, they are a member of all ASUCSD bodies, including the Senate, working to guide and guide its actions in accordance with their overall vision for serving the student body.
On May 10, with the gravity of this role in mind, the Editorial Board interviewed these candidates and later reviewed their platforms. Though many factors led the Board to its decision, the most relevant criteria we had for selecting a candidate was their overall understanding of the role and duties of the president, the explicit policies they intend on implementing, and the feasibility of these actions coming to fruition during their term.
On Forward!’s slate, Patrick Miencharoen is a strong, charismatic orator who is passionate about rectifying the problems within ASUCSD. In his interview, Miencharoen displayed an adequate understanding of the presidential position. However, the Board was concerned when Miencharoen stated that the Office of the President should not have any specific projects of its own. As overseer of many impactful offices within the executive branch of ASUCSD, a member of the Senate, and primary representative of ASUCSD, the president focuses, guides, and unifies the body around a specific agenda to ensure that goals are effectively met and carried out to help the student population. The president carries out this important role by spearheading initiatives to best ensure students reap the eventual benefits. Though this does not mean that Miencharoen is unfit for this position, it does mean that he should reevaluate what the presidency does and how it best functions.
In terms of policy, Miencharoen was somewhat lacking in details during his interview; a later review of the Forward! website showed that the slate does have several policy plans that have been laid out in detail. The Board was particularly receptive of their goals to reallocate and streamline the ASUCSD budget by eliminating expenditures that do not directly benefit the student body, and host press conferences and possibly recruit a dedicated officer to improve communicative transparency with the press.
In his interview, Miencharoen went into detail about his goal of restructuring ASUCSD by creating a new constitution which implements a parliamentary system. This appeared to be his primary goal based on his discussion of the initiative.
While the Board is hesitant about the viability of this policy goal, we are more concerned by the fact that this is the cornerstone of Miencharoen’s agenda. While we do admire Miencharoen’s novel thinking and his progressive platform, we question the need to entirely scrap the current form of ASUCSD and create a new constitution.
According to their platform, the process to create a new constitution would last until Week 5 of Winter Quarter 2022, long after Miencharoen’s term would have ended. We feel that this time can be better allocated towards achieving Forward!’s many other action plans. Furthermore, during this public health emergency, it is imperative that the student government is fully dedicated towards providing aid and guidance to the students rather than be distracted by an expansive internal restructuring campaign that can ultimately fail if students eventually elect not to implement it. We urge Miencharoen to focus on his other, more plausible goals if elected president.
Miencharoen brings a new perspective to the ASUCSD political scene. Many of his goals would benefit students at large, but accomplishing all these goals within the one year term, particularly revising the constitution, will be a difficult task to accomplish. Unless this reality is addressed, his presidential term could prove unproductive. Ultimately, the Board will not endorse Patrick Miencharoen due to how he prioritized issues in his platform and interview, which in turn makes his platform less feasible.
The BOLD presidential candidate, Kimberly Giangtran, is an intelligent, capable leader. She has a great amount of experience in ASUCSD, working as the appointed first year senator and currently as campus wide senator. This experience has led her to have a firm understanding of the powers and responsibilities of the ASUCSD president. In her interview, she critiqued the Office of the President’s communication with the Senate and the media as well as its outreach efforts to student organizations. It is evident that Giangtran is cognizant of the challenges the Office of the President faces and can work effectively to alleviate some of its issues.
In her interview, Giangtran laid out some of her intended policies in basic needs and outreach to the student body. In terms of basic needs, she recognizes that with the move to online learning due to COVID-19, a stable Internet connection and electronic devices are basic necessities and is ready to work to make sure students have access to them. She is presently working with current ASUCSD President Eleanor Grudin to ensure that the CARES Act funding is reaching students to assist their needs. The Editorial Board appreciates Giangtran’s focus on basic needs and understanding of how these needs are exacerbated by COVID-19. For outreach, she intends to use part of the presidential budget to host virtual dinners with the student body where participants can voice the experiences and issues that have had and seek guidance for how to improve their situation.
Although Giangtran went into some detail during her interview, as with Miencharoen, we were looking for specific policy goals. BOLD’s website does not have much detail regarding her overall presidential platform. Their website primarily conveys the slate’s guiding principles, which in itself is not an issue. It does not, however, back these principles up with firm policy and action plans. Giangtran did not sufficiently detail her policy planning to back up the overarching ideas her slate advocates. As such, we have decided to not endorse Kimberly Giangtran for the president position as well.
Overall, both candidates showed promising characteristics that, if elected, will aid them in achieving their goals. Miencharoen’s desire to enact reform backed up with specific action plans is commendable. Nevertheless, well-constructed policy goes only so far if ASUCSD lacks the time and effort to actually implement it. As such, Miencharoen’s main weakness lies in the feasibility of his policies being accomplished in his term as president, especially considering his intention to rewrite the rules of ASUCSD. In Giangtran’s case, her experience and her drive toward inclusivity within ASUCSD will serve her well. Certain policies she advocates are compelling, such as her commitment to supporting stable tuition and advocating the removal of single use plastics from campus. However, she has not yet outlined specific steps for many of the goals she wants to achieve. Without a degree of specificity, we cannot put our support behind a candidate. Based on these weaknesses, the Board voted to abstain from directly endorsing either candidate for the presidency.
With that, we do have recommendations for each candidate to improve their positions. To Miencharoen, we recommend putting more time and resources towards your many other policy goals such as your budget reforms rather than redrafting the constitution. We advise you to reformulate your goals in terms of not just what you ideally want to accomplish, but what you can accomplish as president, taking into consideration the very real possibility of political gridlock and emergency situations stalling the process. To Giangtran, we recommend increasing the specificity of your goals. If elected, we encourage you to listen to all stakeholders and incorporate their ideas into specific plans of action to strengthen your guiding principles of inclusivity, outreach, and basic needs. With these alterations, we believe that these candidates can be effective presidents, the importance of which during these uncertain times cannot be understated.
To hear from the candidates directly, ASUCSD will be hosting Election Debates today from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Triton will be moderating the Presidential Debate at 6:00 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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