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Out with the Old in with the Du

By Daily Bruin Staff

May 9, 1996 9:00 pm

Tuesday, May 10, 1994

Undergraduate president recollects struggles and victories of
past year"Emotionally turbulent."

Undergraduate president York Chang smiled and leaned back in his
chair as he began to describe his life as council leader.

"This year was filled with the highest highs and the lowest
lows," he reminisced, shaking his head.

His term, though, is almost over. Next year’s undergraduate
president John Du ­ also of the Students First! slate ­
was elected last week. Not that Chang was upset about leaving
office ­ in fact he felt "kind of good."

"I guess some people would miss the attention or the idea of
being president, but I’m actually glad to get rid of it," he
explained. "I just don’t think I deal well with public scrutiny
­ I’m really self-conscious."

But Chang does not regret being president. In fact, he said he
nostalgically looks back on both his successes and failures.

"I don’t care what students remember about me personally ­
that’s not important," Chang maintained.

"What is important is for students to remember the different
times in the year when students got together and were able to make
this university more accessible for future students," he added.

After a surprise election victory last year, Chang moved from
being the undergraduate external vice president to the leader of
undergraduate student government. Although he did not actively get
involved in the council until his third year, Chang did participate
in dorm politics and student activist groups.

During the 1995-96 school year, the council organized thousands
of students through the University of California Student
Association to protest university fee hikes and managed a statewide
movement to support affirmative action. They also worked with the
United States Student Association to protest cuts in student
financial aid.

In addition, the council formed the booklending program, a
service which lends students textbooks for a quarter. A
fully-staffed Scholarship Resource Center will be available at no
extra cost to the students in the fall. The council also redesigned
ACCESS, a newsmagazine aimed to keep students in touch with student
government.

"One thing that I feel like this year’s council did is lay the
foundation to change the culture of student government," Chang
said.

"It has moved away from high-school ideas/resume oriented to
being a council that’s actively involved with issues that affect
students," he added.

But not everyone was as pleased with this year’s administration.
Dissenters argued that Chang’s administration focused mainly on
external issues and took away attention from campus issues.

"York Chang was effective at achieving what he wanted to
achieve," said Stanley Yen, the council’s financial supports
commissioner. "But in meeting his goals, he tended to forget about
issues which directly affected the campus."

Chang agreed that the council did not start as many
campus-oriented programs as he would have liked, but said it is
important not to underscore state and national issues.

"Cuts in financial aid, fee hikes and the end of affirmative
action were all very direct threats to the students," he said. "I
feel as though the council did everything it could to keep
education accessible and affordable."

However, critics also argued that the council failed on the one
issue the government devoted its most time to ­ affirmative
action.

"I don’t see how he can call his administration a success ­
the regents still took away affirmative action," said Matt Shapiro,
who served as campaign manager this year for the defeated United
Students presidential candidate.

But Chang was quick to contend that the regents’ decision to
delay ending affirmative action policies in admissions came as a
result of student lobbying.

"The fight to save affirmative action is not over," he
promised.

The most prominent criticism of the council, though, was the
inability to represent every member of the UCLA community.

"The Students First! (slate) alienated a large part of campus
and focused mainly on several student groups," said Brad Miller,
the defeated United Students presidential candidate.

Yet Chang adamantly maintained that it is impossible for 13
council members to represent all undergraduate students.

"The purpose of student activist groups and clubs is to
articulate the interests, concerns and positions of different kinds
of students on campus," he said. "The council serves as both a tool
and a resource for the student groups to achieve their goals."

Although criticism of Chang’s administration is prevalent, many
students said they respect the undergraduate president.

"(York Chang) really stands up for what he believes in," said
Jamie Shauna, a third-year political science student. "And even if
I didn’t agree with him, he was at least strong enough to do what
he thought was right."

Other students admired Chang for fulfilling his campaign
promises. During last year’s election, the Students First! slate
promised to work on three main issues ­ affirmative action,
fee hikes and financial aid.

"York Chang is one of those politicians that we don’t have
enough of," said Matt Arnold, a fourth-year communications student.
"He said what he wanted to do and he did it. In this day and age,
it’s rare to find a politician so honest."

Chang’s biggest strengths were his ability to motivate the
council and focus on issues he felt needed to be addressed, some
students claimed.

"York Chang isn’t one for the nitty gritty details," said Dan
Ryu, Chang’s chief of staff. "But he was able to make the council
as a whole an effective government which truly did put students
first. He also has the ability to go out and talk to students and
organize and motivate students to care about their education."

This year was one of the most influential periods of Chang’s
life, said the undergraduate president.

"Being president has enriched my life and given me a lot of
direction. I think I want to go into community or union
organizing," he concluded. "I plan to stay in Los Angeles, and I
want to make a real difference in people’s lives."

Photos by ANDREW SCHOLER/Daily Bruin

"One thing that I feel like this year’s council did is lay the
foundation to change the culture of student government," said
current undergraduate President York Chang.

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