This year’s undergraduate student government presidential candidate, who is running unopposed, said she has a vision to empower and unify the student body.
Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh, a third-year communication studies student, double minoring in public affairs and Israel studies, said she aims to use her leadership experience to better serve students. She added she thinks running unopposed has its own challenges.
“I am still competing with myself, and I don’t take this new reality for granted,” Mokhtarzadeh said. “Nobody is entitled to a seat in Kerckhoff 417.”
This is the first time since 2012 that there is an uncontested president running in the Undergraduate Students Association Council election.
Mokhtarzadeh is running with Bruins United, and will be elected as president if at least one person votes for her. Bruins United, a student-run political slate which has historically secured the majority of seats on the council, is running nine candidates in this year’s election.
This year, Mokhtarzadeh served as chief of staff for the USAC external vice president and president of Bruins for Israel. She said she thinks her involvement on campus has helped her better understand the needs and importance of different student communities.
“I was able to see the campus in diverse points of views, whether that is as a student, activist, academic or interfaith point of view,” Mokhtarzadeh said. “It would be a disservice if I didn’t use the skills and experiences I learned here to better serve the students.”
Additionally, this is Mokhtarzadeh’s second year serving as an undergraduate representative for the Associated Students UCLA Board of Directors, which she said has taught her the importance of shared governance. As a representative, she worked with the four entities that make up ASUCLA, including USAC, the Graduate Students Association and Services and Enterprises, she said.
Nathan Glovinsky, a second-year history student who worked with Mokhtarzadeh as an undergraduate representative for ASUCLA, said he thinks students are losing their voices across campus entities. He added he thinks USAC needs a president who will improve student representation.
“Her work ethic is unparalleled, and her ability to empathize across the aisle is remarkable,” Glovinsky added.
Mokhtarzadeh said one of her platforms is to connect students with the UCLA Alumni Association and UCLA Career Center for more internship opportunities.
“I want to change the employment culture at UCLA, and to have more alumni hire Bruins,” Mokhtarzadeh said. “I know how competitive the job market is and I hope this will help secure internships for students.”
Another one of her platforms is to create a safer and more welcoming campus by improving and creating new policies that are more student-centric. For example, Mokhtarzadeh wants to install gender-neutral bathrooms in every campus building to address the concerns of the LGBTQ community, Mokhtarzadeh said.
She said members of the LGBTQ community have reached out to her about the stress they feel about not knowing where all-gender bathrooms are located.
As USAC president, she wants to focus on unifying the student body and representing all student voices.
Mokhtarzadeh said her office plans to create a symposium for students to share and define their own experience with hatred or oppression. She added she hopes the symposium will help students identify different forms of intolerance on campus and discuss them with the council. She then plans to incorporate what the council learns from the symposium into policy changes.
“We want to focus on the idea that you are not defined by your identity, but you are defining your experience,” she said. “We also want to bring those definitions to administration so they are aware and develop a policy themselves that students see themselves reflected in.”
Justin Jackson, a Bruins United candidate running for general representative this year, said he thinks Mokhtarzadeh will be open-minded to helping represent different student groups as USAC president.
“She is a strong advocate for the Jewish community, but I am confident that she will lend her office toward the courtesy of many more marginalized communities,” Jackson said.
Mokhtarzadeh said she is grateful to be a part of the UCLA community and appreciates the experiences and opportunities she has been given.
“UCLA is a community, family and a home,” Mokhtarzadeh said. “And I cannot be more excited and humbled to have this opportunity to serve the student body.”
Click here for full coverage of the 2017 USAC elections.