By Daily Bruin Staff
May 9, 1996 9:00 pm
Tuesday, May 10, 1994
Out with the Old In with the Du
President-elect looks optimistically toward new
yearNewly-elected undergraduate president John Du always knew he
would be involved with political issues.
"My background and the experiences that I’ve gone through have
all pushed me to be involved," Du explained.
When Du was 4, his family escaped from Vietnam and moved to the
United States. With six children to raise, his parents had neither
the time nor the opportunity to focus on their careers, Du
"My parents are intelligent and capable people," he maintained.
"But as immigrants, they were perceived as unqualified and they
never had the chance to do what they wanted to do."
With that in mind, Du worked his way through the honors program
in high school and dreamed of attending UCLA..
Four years later, Du has not only achieved his dream, but he has
risen through the ranks of student government to become the 1996-97
leader of the undergraduate council.
His university involvement began with community service on
Project MAC, a tutoring program for inner-city children. He also
served as assistant UC and state affairs director for the
University of California Student Association.
Currently Du is the council’s external vice president; he will
assume duties as the undergraduate president on May 28.
The Students First! member said he has innovative plans for next
year’s undergraduate government. With a landslide victory by the
Students First! slate last week, he can almost be assured that all
13 council members will agree with his agenda.
"[Current undergraduate President] York Chang laid a lot of the
groundwork for next year’s council, and I plan to expand student
government’s work on educational and access issues," Du said.
His plan consists of three parts Â student services,
empowerment and student advocacy.
Du wants to expand student service programs started this year by
the council, including the booklending program and the Scholarship
Resource Center. He would also like to expand the professor guide
by publishing the results of student evaluations at the end of each
"The council needs to provide student services in order to be
relevant to students’ daily lives," Du stressed. "It would be the
basis for building a relationship and the trust of students."
The next step, Du said, would be to organize students through
voter registration drives and postcard and phone-in campaigns.
"The philosophy behind this is that students’ strength lies in
our numbers and our ability to vote and hold those in power
accountable through our votes," Du said.
The third step would be for the council to work with students
across the state and nation to advocate for issues such as
financial aid, fee freezes and affirmative action.
"This all comes under the idea that we need to have access to
education," Du explained. "So (we) need to build a relationship
with the students through student services,become relevant to their
daily lives, then organize students collectively and use that power
to advocate on a state and a national level," Du added. "Students
First!’s ideology is that the titles on our office don’t mean
anything unless we have the support of the students."
But some students feared that Du’s background as external vice
president will lead the council to concentrate entirely on state
and national issues.
"I’m worried that all 13 council members will focus only on
affirmative action and fee hikes and will do nothing directly for
the students," said Ben HofileÃ±a, who ran a defeated campaign
for general representative under the United Students slate.
Du, however, contended that his experience with state and
national issues will only aid him in his presidential duties.
"It’s dangerous to have a president who doesn’t know what is
going on outside of UCLA," Du claimed. "Because I have worked with
people on these issues the last few years, I have a large
Du’s commitment to educational access is the reason other slate
members said they support him wholeheartedly.
"I fully support John Du because he has a clear grasp of student
issues and he’s not a bunch of talk," said Max Espinoza, the
1996-97 academic affairs council member."He’s proven time and time
again that he takes action on behalf of students whenever he gets
the opportunity to do so."
Other students, though, charged that Du’s agenda is limited to a
few students and believed next year’s council will be accessible
only to students who believe in Students First! ideology.
"John Du tends to focus on a small number of students and fails
to consider the rest of the UCLA population," claimed Rob
Greenhalgh, who served as last year’s undergraduate president.
Although Du believed he accurately represents the majority of
the student body, he acknowledged that it is impossible for him to
represent all 25,000 undergraduate students.
"I think it’s an issue of human capacity Â physically
there’s only so much I can do, so what we do is pick the most
broad-based issues that affect students, such as financial aid and
fee hikes," Du said. "Human capacity can only go so far; I would
like to represent all ideas, but I just can’t."
Some students agreed with Du’s philosophy and lauded him for
standing by his ideals.
"It is important for the president to set achievable goals and a
vision of where you want student government to be in a year,"
explained York Chang, the council’s current president. "Du is very
focused … he needs to fight with all his heart and mind and
finish the task no matter how many people try and pull him
But other students viewed Du as an activist and protester Â
one unable to effectively handle day-to-day bureaucratic details of
running the council.
"Every time I’ve seen John Du he was running around in some
protest or conducting campaigns," said Jennifer Lou, a second-year
chemistry student. "It seems to me that he can do the protests all
right, but I wonder about his ability to handle presidential
Yet Du believed his ability to handle administrative planning is
something very few students have an opportunity to observe.
"The Daily Bruin covers actions Â not meetings, because
it’s uninteresting," he said. "But I’m a policy minded person and I
come from a policy background Â I’ve served on several policy
Other council members attested to Du’s commitment to
"John Du is much better than York Chang at delegating
responsibilities," said Dan Ryu, Chang’s chief of staff. "John is a
very dedicated and very emotional leader, and he is able to focus
and understand the day-to-day details. In addition, he knows how to
bargain, deal and solve problems effectively and efficiently," Ryu
Du said he was grateful for the support of the student body and
vowed to continue the fight for affordable and accessible education
for all students.
"I’ve been lucky to get into the UC schools and I’ve been very
lucky to receive financial aid so that I could attend this
university," Du concluded. "But I know that there are thousands of
students across the nation who may not have the same opportunity
… I would like to give the same chance as I had."
"The council needs to provide student services in order to be
relevant to students’ daily lives," said undergraduate
President-elect John Du.