A new slate running in this year’s undergraduate student government election hopes to advocate for the interests of students not traditionally involved in Undergraduate Students Association Council.
Leaders Influencing Tomorrow is running seven candidates in this year’s USAC election. The slate plans to call for additional support for students of color, transfer students and veterans, said Richard White, the slate’s candidate for president and third-year political science student.
For example, White said he plans to advocate for the establishment of a UC systemwide housing grant initiative for low-income students, and Karla Blessing Savaliolefilemu Thomas, who is running for external vice president, said she hopes to advocate for in-state tuition for students who come from U.S. territories that do not have four-year universities.
“I don’t think the EVP position right now really advocates for students who come from U.S. territories,” said Thomas, a third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student. “It’s not fair that we pay international student tuition, so that’s one of the new things I want to bring to the table.”
Thomas said the candidates feel they can better represent nontraditional students than previous slates because their slate includes nontraditional students.
Roberto Vasquez, a fourth-year psychobiology student who is running for Academic Affairs commissioner, said he and the other candidates plan to advocate for more diversity at all levels of UCLA, including more diverse students, faculty and administrators.
“As a low-income student of color, walking into a math class full of non-Hispanic white students taught by a non-Hispanic, white professor my first quarter at UCLA was uncomfortable,” he said. “I couldn’t identify or relate with anyone.”
Although the candidates do not have previous experience serving on USAC, they said they think their experience in other student organizations have prepared them for USAC leadership.
For example, White said his current position as the chairperson of the Student Fee Advisory Committee, which provides recommendations to the chancellor on how to allocate student fees, has given him experience working with administrators and handling a large budget.
“Everybody’s issues should be taken seriously and USAC is a tool to do that,” White said.
The other candidates have also served in leadership positions, including Thomas, who is in her second term as president of Pacific Islands Students Association and Vasquez, who is the student director of the Math Success Program, which provides free math tutoring to help low-income students of color succeed in STEM fields.
White said he believes Leaders Influencing Tomorrow will be able to actively solve problems for all members of the UCLA community.
“I want us to move beyond politics towards action and tangible change for everyone,” White said.