The graduate student government’s election for its executive cabinet will continue until Tuesday. The Daily Bruin Editorial Board interviewed each of the five candidates and evaluated their platforms for the coming year.
This board endorses Michelle Ellis Viorato for vice president of external affairs because of her experience fighting for graduate students’ needs and her passion for advocacy.
Viorato has helped push for more affordable graduate student housing by getting involved with Westwood Forward, the coalition seeking to create a new neighborhood council in Westwood to better represent students, faculty and businesses. She has also worked alongside the University of California Student Association to advocate for students’ needs at the state and national level.
As a first-generation student and a California State University graduate, Viorato brings in background knowledge and expertise that will help her serve as a representative who will advocate at the state and campus level for graduate students.
Some of Viorato’s ideas for next year, however, are too broad in scope. Viorato said she wanted to establish a Los Angeles advocacy coalition to partner with students at CSU campuses and private universities to tackle issues such as access to resources and lack of affordable housing opportunities for graduate students. She added she wants to work with UCSA to figure out how to bring up the specific needs of first-generation students with the UC Office of the President.
While the coalition is a worthy cause, it’s wishful thinking to get such an effort up and running in one year. Similarly, Viorato should not prioritize her platform of elevating the concerns of first-generation students unless she can come up with specific, accomplishable goals.
The graduate student body would be better served if Viorato pursued her more concrete and realistic initiatives, such as her goal of setting up lactation stations across UC campuses – something that could be implemented quickly, should administrators be receptive.
This board is confident Viorato will be an enthusiastic and productive member of next year’s graduate student government. Her eye for advocacy and involvement with the association this year make her a fitting candidate to serve as the voice for graduate students’ needs.