Saturday, May 27

Candidates discuss influence of national politics in USAC election


Members of Bruins United slate march toward Meyerhoff Park on Friday, May 5, prior to the release of the 2017 Undergraduate Students Association Council election results. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin)

Members of Bruins United slate march toward Meyerhoff Park on Friday, May 5, prior to the release of the 2017 Undergraduate Students Association Council election results. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin)


Several candidates who ran in this year’s Undergraduate Students Association Council elections said they think national politics influenced this year’s election.

Nine independent candidates were elected to the council in Friday’s election. The election also featured two slates, with the Defend Affirmative Action Party winning one seat and the Bruins United slate winning four positions. Many of the candidates ran on platforms that addressed national issues, and President Donald Trump’s administration often came up in debates between candidates.

Nicole Corona Diaz, a DAAP candidate who will be next year’s General Representative 1, said she thinks national politics played an important role in this year’s election because federal policy changes directly affect many students.

“When there are policies and executive orders that are affecting students on campus, like deportations or the Muslim ban, and these policies are affecting someone sitting next to you in lecture, how can you not care about that?” she said.

Corona, whose slate ran a campaign advocating against the Trump administration and creating defense networks that could protect undocumented students against deportations, said she thinks students and USAC have generally been complacent about national political issues.

“Some people on the council (this year) have taken an approach of, ‘Okay, we’d like to fight for your rights but there’s not much we can do,’” she said. “That’s very unfortunate, and I’d like to see a more hands-on approach in council (next year).”

Chloe Pan, an independent candidate who was elected as external vice president, said she thinks council members tend to be reactive rather than proactive to national events.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for the Trump administration and deportations to start talking about how we are going to help undocumented students,” Pan said. “You need to be actively working with communities and not just talking about certain issues because that’s now the trendy thing to do.”

Pan added she thinks the election has mobilized more students to become involved in national political issues.

“This year, we saw what happens when complacency takes hold,” she said. “We need to be unapologetic about resisting the Trump administration.”

Several candidates said the election of Trump was a major reason they decided to run for a USAC position.

[Related: Independent candidates take majority of USAC seats in 2017 election]

Jack Price, an independent candidate who ran for external vice president, said he thinks he would not have run if Trump had not become president.

“I don’t think as many people on our team would have been inspired to get involved in the election, and I think it definitely was a factor in sparking our campaign,” he said.

Price added many of the platforms he ran on, such as his lobbying and phone banking platforms, were in response to the Trump administration’s policies.

“Just as much as we make sure we are reacting to and resisting this president, we have to make sure we are filling in gaps and creating a more resilient community,” he said.

Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh, the uncontested Bruins United presidential candidate, said she thinks council members can use campus resources to advocate against national policies. She added her Bruins Fight Back platform would advocate for UCLA’s administration to act in response to federal policies.

“For example, we have a president that brags about sexually assaulting women,” she said. “We would encourage the administration to implement strong sexual harassment policies.”

Mokhtarzadeh added she thinks the council can do more to address student concerns on national issues if they get over partisanship.

“We can’t change the whole world, but we can change our world,” she said.

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