Friday, April 3

Slates evolve to shape USAC


Bruins United, Students First! have dominated elections; formation of third slate alters dynamic

For the past several years, Students First! and Bruins United have dominated undergraduate student government politics at UCLA.

Both Students First! and Bruins United are slates, which are groups of students that pool together resources and run under common platforms. The candidates run as a united front, though they are unofficial and not sanctioned by the university.

The two slates differ on agendas and their approach to student government.

On Tuesday, independent candidates from the student welfare commission, campus events and the community service commission announced the formation of a new third slate, called SERVE.

Representatives from the slate issued a statement saying it was formed in response to a candidate from Bruins United contending for the traditionally independent position of student welfare commissioner.

This past academic year, Students First! has held seven out of the 13 positions in the Undergraduate Students Association Council. Bruins United has two seats, and the remaining four officers are independent.

This makeup is a change from the 2007-2008 academic year, during which Bruins United held eight seats and Students First! held two.

Students First! is the older of the two slates, having evolved from the defunct Third World Coalition and later Praxis, said Cinthia Flores, the presidential candidate running with Students First!

Officially established in 1994, Students First! has changed its name a number of times, calling itself Student Empowerment! and Student Power!, depending on the year’s platforms, Flores said.

Despite the frequent name changes, Students First! has abided by a commitment to affordable education, a diverse curriculum, civic engagement and the promotion of a sustainable lifestyle, said Homaira Hosseini, the current undergraduate student body president.

Flores said empowering students and giving them a voice on campus is another key component of Students First!

“We look for students to create their own organizations, advocate for their rights and compliment their efforts outside of the classroom,” Flores said.

Hosseini said Students First! also works to address the needs of underrepresented students as part of the slate’s commitment to fighting for student’s rights.

Hosseini added that Students First! seeks to build coalitions with groups across campus to work for common goals and implement them through USAC.

“USAC is a great tool and resource, and through our work we have addressed textbook prices, sustainability and having students well-represented on university committees,” she said.

Flores said that if elected, she would work to continue her slate’s commitment to affordable education and promoting the student voice.

“We made great progress this year, and we want to continue to make monumental structural change that will benefit students,” Flores said.

Bruins United was founded in 2004 by a coalition of student organizations who challenged the status quo, said Jesse Rogel, the presidential candidate running under the slate.

Rogel said that when Bruins United was formed, only a few select student groups could apply for funding from USAC, which, at the time, had had a Students First! majority for over a decade.

He added that most of the groups that were allowed to receive funding were Students First! supporters.

A coalition of several students ““ including members of Bruin Democrats and Bruin Republicans, several fraternities and sororities, Jewish student groups, and students working in residential life ““ formed Bruins United, Rogel said.

“These groups felt excluded from student government and decided to come together to fight for equal access,” he said.

The year following the formation of Bruins United, the slate won its first council seats, and subsequently, USAC funding opened to all student groups, said Tim Mullins, the Bruins United candidate for facilities commissioner.

Mullins said his slate believes in representing students equally in terms of funding and opportunity.

Mullins said members of the slate come from “all walks of life, representing the entire political spectrum, different majors, as well as all ethnicities and orientations.”

Rogel said another key component of Bruins United is focusing on local issues directly affecting UCLA.

He said that Bruins United believes in empowering all students and not alienating communities.

Rogel added that Bruins United candidates, like Students First!, are making affordability a key part of their party’s ideological platform.

He said that the external vice president candidate for Bruins United, Megan Ward, has spoken to Sen. Barbara Boxer about implementing fee freezes in the UC system.

All slates will undergo intensive campaigning in the next week, and voting will begin on Monday, May 4. Voting ends the following Thursday, May 7, and results will be announced that evening.


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