Thursday, February 27

Several uncontested and unrepresented positions in USAC elections this year

There is a shortage of USAC candidates running for the 2019-2020 council. There is no one running for 3 of 15 positions. This type of shortage has not happened for at least several decades. (Kanishka Mehra/Daily Bruin)

This post was updated April 17 at 11:54 a.m.

There are not enough candidates to fill all the undergraduate student government seats next year.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council election board announced the candidates for the spring election of the 2018-2019 council last Tuesday. There are 17 candidates for 15 positions, with no one running for the financial supports commission and two general representative offices.

Thirty-nine people ran for 14 USAC positions last year, with eight running for the USAC presidency alone in the 2018 election. The Bruins United slate, which has run candidates since 2004, did not put forward any candidates.

Roy Champawat, the Associated Students UCLA director and an administrative representative to the council, said there has not been a shortage of candidates this extreme in at least the last few decades.

Kyana Shajari, the election board chair, said she thinks there has been a lack of publicity about this year’s election. Since replacing former election board chair Richard White, Shajari said she has been working to learn who to reach and how to reach them to better publicize the election.

Current council members said they think complications with the election board and difficulty engaging students in certain roles contributed to the shortage.

Ayesha Haleem, general representative 1, said she thinks students have a negative perception of USAC.

“People genuinely want to create change on this campus but they don’t want to do it through USAC because there’s like this negative idea that it’s so bad for your mental health, so bad for this and that,” Haleem said.

She added she thinks the council and election board have been negligent in reaching out to students, in part due to internal personnel issues and a lack of experience on the election board.

“We’re the number one public university in the U.S., but our election board (email) accounts got hacked?” Haleem said. “I don’t even know what was happening. At this point, it’s not professional at all, which undermines everything USAC has stood for and the integrity that comes with these seats.”

Jessica Kim, transfer student representative, said she thinks a variety of factors contributed to the candidate shortage.

“I think it’s just a mixture of, starting in the beginning, getting late to installing a chair, having a noneffective chair, switching out of chairs, and then just everything that’s happened (with) communication,” Kim said.

Kim added she thinks USAC could be made more accessible to the student body by establishing an external publicity board.

Jessica Nguyen, a second-year microbiology student, said she could not name anything USAC has accomplished. She added she thinks students prefer other clubs to student government.

Shajari said she hoped the election will be more smooth going forward.

“I know this has been, like, a total shitshow. I’m really trying to solve it,” Shajari said. “I inherited a lot of problems from the previous chair, but yeah I’m really trying to claw my way to the surface right now.”

Shajari said USAC will likely hold a special election in fall quarter to fill remaining vacant positions.

Melissa Morris

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