Members of a new student-run political group said their coalition aims to use the undergraduate student government’s resources to address inequities among students on campus.
For the People is running three candidates, including Kosi Ogbuli, Nidirah Stephens and Sarena Khasawneh, in this year’s Undergraduate Students Association Council election in May. Ogbuli, the slate’s presidential candidate, said it is a coalition of different marginalized groups on campus, including students from minority groups.
Divya Sharma, an advocate for the slate and the current USAC Academic Affairs commissioner, said the slate plans to call on USAC to allocate its surplus funds to students.
“We should be looking to dismantle the endowment and looking to invest back into students,” he said. “It would benefit students more if the money went to student organizations adding to the diversity of our campus.”
Every year, USAC votes to allocate surplus funds to the USAC Programming Fund, Contingency Capital Items Fund, Contingency Programming Fund and the endowment.
Ogbuli, a second-year neuroscience and political science student, said the slate hopes to bring together various groups by creating a community room where students can raise various issues that the president’s office should focus on.
Ogbuli added he wants to help students find a community on campus and plans to hold “UCLA Quarterlies” to provide spaces in Wilson Plaza for students groups to recruit members at the beginning of each quarter.
“I came to UCLA trying to find a community that empowers me,” he said. “This slate will be empowering incoming freshmen and the student body to make sure the minute they step on campus, they have an outlet to be involved.”
Nidirah Stephens, a candidate running for Academic Affairs commissioner, said she joined the slate because she wanted to work with like-minded people who are active in student government and campus politics. Stephens is currently the chairperson of the Student Initiated Outreach Committee and the Afrikan Student Union’s access coordinator.
“I was really excited to be a part of a slate where people work just as hard as I do,” said Stephens, a third-year political science and African American studies student.
Stephens said she hopes to make UCLA more accessible and more technology-oriented if she becomes the Academic Affairs commissioner, for instance, by allocating emergency PTE numbers for students who need a course and advocating for 24-hour laptop rentals.
Sharma said he thinks the current council tends to stagnate and not implement long-lasting policies because of political infighting. He added he hopes the slate can accomplish changes that will become institutionalized.
“We can manipulate how USAC works (to) ensure it can benefit students,” he said. “We hope people in power can implement long-lasting change so it’s not for Bruins of today but for Bruins of the future as well.”