Thursday, January 23

Bruins United dominates council after controversial election season


Bruins United candidates Heather Hourdequin, Heather Rosen and Zach Helder win executive positions on next year's undergraduate student government council. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)



The original version of this article incorrectly stated new Undergraduate Students Association Council members will be sworn in May 16 in Kerckhoff Grand Salon. In fact, they will be sworn in May 5 in Kerckhoff Hall 417.

This post was updated on May 3 at 8:16 p.m.

About 200 LET’S ACT! supporters gathered in a huddle for more than two hours in Wilson Plaza Friday night after hearing of their slate’s severe losses in last week’s Undergraduate Students Association Council election.

Several slate leaders took turns giving speeches, saying how they felt robbed of representation on the council table and marginalized as people of color.

“This time is different, this time we lost our hope,” said former USAC President and LET’S ACT! member Devin Murphy to the circle of students. “I never felt as hurt as I do tonight.”

The slate won just two of nine contested undergraduate student government positions to the Bruins United slate. The losses included seats across the board that LET’S ACT! held this year and in previous years, including the close race for the external vice president position, which Bruins United has not held for over a decade.

“Shame on them for not electing the person that advocates on their behalf every single day,” said Denea Joseph, this year’s LET’S ACT! candidate for the seat.

The results followed a week of controversy after leaked documents alleged LET’S ACT! sold alcohol and drugs and used student fees to fund its past two campaigns.USAC Election Board Chair Shagun Kabra said the board has done all it can to investigate these allegations and he is unsure whether the council will choose to investigate further. If found to have violated the Election Code, some elected candidates could still be removed and the Election Board would hold a special election to fill those spots.

Bruins United candidate Heather Rosen took the presidency by a large margin, winning about 60 percent of the vote. Rosen, the current financial supports commissioner, is the first female USAC president to be elected in the past four years. LET’S ACT! members have won the seat for the past two years.

“Being in charge of council, your job is to lead,” Rosen said. “My platforms are already underway.”

Rosen said she wants to institutionalize a middle-class scholarship, promote food security and sustainability and advocate for Dead Days before finals.

Bruins United will hold eight seats on the 2015-2016 council, with LET’S ACT! securing three nonexecutive positions and independent candidates filling the remaining three offices. Last year, six Bruins United members, four LET’S ACT! members and three independent candidates were elected to council. Bruins United has not held a majority in the council since 2012.

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Though the Election Board launched a voter education campaign this year called #makeitcount, voter turnout still decreased slightly. About 29.6 percent of eligible student voters participated in this year’s election, the lowest turnout in the last six years.

Kabra said he was disappointed by the voter turnout results.

“This year, there has been a lack of communication between USAC and students,” he said. “Next year’s USAC council should make sure students know more about USAC.”

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Bruins United candidate Heather Hourdequin, an incumbent, will serve as next year’s internal vice president. She received 51.8 percent of the vote, securing an office that her slate has held since 2010. Her platforms include promoting safety and self-empowerment and improving intercommunity relations.

Zach Helder from Bruins United won the external vice president position by a slim margin, taking 50.6 percent of vote. Helder said he hopes to have a diplomatic and constructive relationship with University of California leaders while in office, and follow through on his platform to work with the administration.

Aaliya Khan and Anais Leontine Amin from LET’S ACT! were elected as General Representatives 2 and 3 respectively. Bruins United candidate Danny Siegel was elected as General Representative 1.

Ariel Rafalian from Bruins United won the runoff vote for transfer student representative after J. Cesar Flores, the only independent candidate, was eliminated with 713 votes. Rafalian won with 52.3 percent of votes against LET’S ACT! candidate Keytiana Hempstead after Flores’ votes were redistributed.

Bruins United also filled the positions of next year’s Academic Affairs commissioner and Financial Supports commissioner after Trent Kajikawa and Ruhi Patil won the seats with 53 percent and 52.5 percent, respectively. Bruins United councilmembers have held both these offices in recent years.

Kajikawa said he thinks slate politics shouldn’t influence the council’s ability to work cohesively.

“We’re councilmembers,” he said. “We should work collectively to increase transparency at UCLA for students on campus.”

Kevin Casasola, LET’S ACT! candidate for Academic Affairs commissioner, said he was angered by the results since he felt voters told him his issues as a queer Filipino were not important to them.

“USAC doesn’t matter,” he added, while speaking to LET’S ACT! members Friday. “I will go back to my community and I will continue to fight for the issues that I believe in. I want all of us to take this anger and channel it in a better way.”

Independent candidates Marvin Chen, Lexi Mossler and Zack Dameron were elected next year’s Student Wellness commissioner, Campus Events commissioner and Community Service commissioner, respectively. All three candidates ran uncontested.

LET’S ACT! candidate Amy Shao was elected next year’s Cultural Affairs commissioner. Ian Cocroft, a Bruins United candidate, will serve as next year’s Facilities commissioner. Both candidates ran uncontested.

Candidates will be sworn in May 5 in Kerckhoff Hall 417.

Contributing reports by Chandini Soni, Jillian Frankel, Sujung Hahn, Kartik Kolachina, Shreya Maskara, Rafael Sands and Laurel Scott, Bruin senior staff and Bruin contributors.

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  • bsu42

    The feelings of being “robbed of representation” and that the newly elected President is not their President are some of the reasons why Lets Act lost and why they will continue to become less and less relevant. It was an election. You lost. Don’t be sore losers. Maybe we were tired of voting for people who cheated to get elected and once they were in office they wasted their time on international issues instead of UCLA issues, and after a few months they just ended up quiting anyway.

  • y’all

    How self righteous. Rosen isn’t your president? Yes, she is. That’s the risk you run when going up for election. Don’t fulfill LA!s infamous behavior of not compromising and throwing a fit when you don’t get what you want. You’re on a governing body representing all of UCLA so it’s time to act grown. Why don’t you save us the trouble and step down now, like last years elected president, if you’re unwilling to face what happens? Did you think that all of LA was going to get elected, even without the knowledge of the dirty games you played? Of things weren’t exposed it still wouldn’t have happened. Maybe the executive board will help you out and get rid of you after this investigation so you can’t stall things from happening. You’re too immature to hold a position of any type of power. Get over yourself.

  • RB

    Aaliya’s remarks demonstrate a major lack of professionalism. You’re about to enter a council where 60% of voters chose the president of that council. Work with her, not against her. If she fails you while in office, then call her out but until she’s spent any time in her term as president, you should respect the fact that in the eyes of the voters she earned her place. Really sad to see, makes me regret ranking her as highly as I did on my ballot.

    • Nilesh Murali

      Completely agreed!

    • Zev Allison

      ABSOLUTELY! She’s a disgrace and I hope she reads this and knows that this is the reason why she lost. complete and utter immaturity.

  • Dee

    She’s not my president either. Anyone who says that if you can’t afford college then you don’t deserve to be here and says no to voter education on important propositions like prop 47 can never represent me. And unless or unitl she sincerely changes, Heather Rosen will never be my president.

    • justastudent

      hmmm and I can never have a president who utters anti Semitic comments as a proxy for the EVP. Yup I went there. He does not represent me! Shouldn’t represent an entire student body at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Dont even think of saying I am making things up about him saying those remarks, the live- stream is up from Feb 10 and he even made a weak apology for his actions after being forced to.

    • Are you kidding?

      I understand that you dislike Heather Rosen, but denying reality doesn’t help your cause: it just makes you look childish. Whether you like it or not, she won with a comfortable majority, and will assume office shortly. Nobody’s asking you to “comply with a mindset” here… whatever that means.

    • M D

      When did Heather say that? Link?

    • Zev Allison

      Dee, you either provide evidence for your claims against Heather or you delete it off the site and apologize.

  • justastudent

    Aaliya Khan doesnt have to go to UCLA then, get with the program, shes your president, move ON

  • TrueBruin

    Why did the Daily Bruin delete Aaliya Khan’s quote in this article? She said those things, did she not?

    “Heather Rosen is not my president,” said Aaliya Khan, one of the two LET’S ACT! members who were elected to council. “And we need to make sure this campus knows who is.”

  • DissentIsSometimesPatriotic123

    “Shame on them for not electing [me]”

    Yeah! The nerve of them to not for you – who do they think they are?!

    #EntitlementPrivilege

  • Adam OnWeb

    Let’s Act’s was justly “booted out” for atrocious performance. Ironically, they claimed they were fighting bigotry and they turned out to be perhaps the worst bigots on campus.

    Consider these 5 points:

    1)The Non-Invest in Israel vote.

    2)The questioning of the legitimacy of Avinoam Baral’s (VP and Jewish) ascendanding to the presidency.

    3)The blatant anti-semetic questioning of Rachel Beyda.

    4)Running Morris Sarafian – an active participant in the anti semetic questioning of Rachel Beyda – for President on the Let’s Act ticket.

    5)Morris Sarafians refusal to address Jewish groups in the community during the election.

    Let’s Act pursued a consistent antisemitic agenda. They were not “lobbyng” or “social activists”. There was nothing noble in their motives. They used the Israel-Palestine conflict to cover their contempt and disdain for Jews. Ultimately, they even failed to cover up their contempt.

    Consistently, when they had the opportunity to behave badly towards a Jew – not merely Zionists or Israelis, but any Jew in the local community – they abused their power and did their utmost to oppress them. They divided the community. Their bigoted behavior brought shame and humiliation to campus, and they left UCLA with a nation-wide reputation for antisemitism. Once their actual motives became transparent to enough students, they were resoundingly rejected.

    Bravo to the undergrads of UCLA for seeing through the propaganda and doing the right thing.

    At this point, Let’s Act should just disband and another slate should replace them. They’re a bunch of hypocrites with no credibility and they’ve done more than enough damage to the community.