Tuesday, December 10

EVP Matt Kaczmarek juggles classes, USAC duties


As the external vice president for the undergraduate student
government, Matt Kaczmarek faces challenges the average UCLA
student may not encounter.

Kaczmarek spends almost every weekend traveling across the
country attending conferences, lobbying Congress and advocating for
students on issues like fee increases and enrollment caps.

With all the traveling, Kaczmarek said juggling his course
schedule with work is a challenge.

“Taking classes is extremely difficult because the (course
schedule) is regular, and I am not,” Kaczmarek said.

As a fifth-year political science and geography student with a
minor in public policy, Kaczmarek added that studying for his
classes, and working with the Undergraduate Students Association
Council are intertwined.

“I don’t see a huge difference between (work and
class) because they’re both academic exercises,”
Kaczmarek said.

On Friday, Kaczmarek was appointed by University of California
President Robert Dynes to serve on a committee to review UC
admissions issues such as enrollment caps and SAT score
discrepancies. The UC has come under fire for its admissions
policies when a confidential report was released showing students
with high SAT scores were rejected from UC Berkeley, while students
with much lower scores were accepted. Officials have criticized the
report as being too narrow in focus.

Kaczmarek also participates in two lobbying bodies as chairman
of the University of California Student Association, and as a
member of the United States Student Association. Kaczmarek believes
his participation in the reviewing committee will not affect his
other duties.

“This is part of UCSA chair’s
responsibilities,” Kaczmarek said.

Holding roles with two lobbying bodies in addition to USAC,
Kaczmarek has learned to master the balancing act.

“For me balancing is being able to have an effective staff
that I trust and who can produce quality work,” Kaczmarek
said.

However, Kaczmarek admitted that exhaustion has caught up with
him. On Friday, Kaczmarek was scheduled to attend a conference in
Kansas City, Mo. but canceled his trip due to travel fatigue and to
spend time working in the office.

“I want to be able to make sure I’m not attending
conferences just for the conferences, but to be able to bring
information back (to USAC),” Kaczmarek said.

Among the most pressing duties Kaczmarek balances is serving as
the chief negotiator between the UC Student Association and the UC
Office of the President regarding guidelines on student government
funding. Current UCOP guidelines conflict with a 1999 Supreme Court
ruling that stated student governments must allocate funds on a
viewpoint-neutral basis.

The second drafts of the UCOP guidelines should be released to
UC campuses sometime in December or January. Kaczmarek said the
process has been long because students and the UC Regents disagreed
on issues such as lobbying rights, which student governments wanted
with no restrictions. The UC’s general counsel wanted to
place restrictions on lobbying rights because they were concerned
the regents would be liable for the students’ actions.

“The overall experience, though long and arduous, has been
a good model of how the student consultation process should
work,” Kaczmarek said.

USAC Internal Vice President Allende Palma/Saracho said he
always needs a copy of Kaczmarek’s schedule to know his
whereabouts.

“(Kaczmarek) will sit down and plan out his weeks in
advance which I envy because I don’t have that kind of
organization,” Palma/Saracho said.

As Kaczmarek is responsible for advocating student issues
outside UCLA, he also works with council members from other
universities, including schools within the UC. This entails
spending a considerable amount of time traveling to several UC
campuses.

Anu Joshi, external affairs vice president for the Associated
Students of UC Berkeley, works closely with Kaczmarek and also
faces the problem of time management.

“I sacrifice a lot of sleep but it’s definitely a
privilege to be where I am,” Joshi said.

Since starting his term as EVP, Kaczmarek has been to
conferences in Washington, D.C., Wisconsin and Texas. Kaczmarek
recently attended a leadership conference in Portland, Ore. On
Wednesday, Kaczmarek will travel to Washington, D.C. and Miami.

“Going to different cities is cool, but basically we do a
lot of sitting in meetings,” Kaczmarek said.

The trips are funded through various sources including the UC
Office of the President, USAC, and Kaczmarek’s office.

Five years ago, when Kaczmarek was a first-year student,
becoming a member of the student government was not what he had in
mind.

“My goal when I came here was to excel academically and
make my community happy,” Kaczmarek said.

So despite the endless hours of work, Kaczmarek believes the
entire experience is worth it.

“Learning not only happens in class but on campus as well
“¦ I am learning as much if I were taking a full academic
load, maybe more.”

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