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Week six: UCLA welcomes its 117th NCAA title, a new gymnastics coach, next year’s USAC

(Daily Bruin staff)

By Veronica Fernandez De Soto

May 10, 2019 6:14 pm

This Week in the News serves as The Quad’s space for reflection on current events at and around UCLA. Every week, Daily Bruin staffers will analyze some of the most significant stories to keep readers up to speed.

It’s week six and Bruins are winning student government elections and NCAA titles. After a busy week for the members of both the Undergraduate Students Association Council and UCLA beach volleyball, it’s no wonder their successes dominated the news. Here’s The Quad’s roundup of the week’s biggest stories.

USAC sees first independent president, lowest voter turnout in years

Unfilled positions, low voter turnouts, an independent president and greater representation for students of color – this year’s USAC elections were memorable, to say the least.

Robert Watson, this year’s internal vice president, won the majority of votes to become the next USAC president. Since Watson was not running as an affiliate of any slate, he is the first independent candidate in the past 19 years to be elected president.

Watson said he thinks the elections could have had a better turnout: Only 16.18% of undergraduate students voted this year, which marks the lowest turnout in at least 10 years.

USAC will also hold another round of special elections to fill out two general representative positions and the Financial Supports commissioner – three positions for which no one ran.

While several candidates said they believe this year’s elections were poorly managed as the USAC Election Board violated its constitution and election code in the months leading up to the election, others pointed to past USAC candidates and their toxic politics. It remains to be seen if the same election board members will run the special election.

USAC candidate sanctions fall drastically from last year

This year’s USAC candidates had a total of only seven sanctions – a stark contrast to the 56 sanctions the election board issued last year.

The USAC Election Board is responsible for making sure all the candidates follow the proper procedures during the campaign process. This year, the election board received 19 petitions for sanctions but chose not to sanction in the majority of the cases.

Then-presidential candidate Millen Srivastava’s campaign received the most sanctions, more than half of the total sanctions.

This year’s lack of sanctions highlights the fact that we’ve had a milder election environment compared to last year’s, when there were controversial accusations of voter coercion. The seven sanctions dealt with issues of campaign materials that were in violation of election code and only limited the candidate’s campaign time.

The election board released the report a day after the new council was sworn in.

UCLA gymnastics hires Chris Waller as new head coach

Chris Waller competed for the UCLA’s men’s gymnastics program from 1987 to 1991, helped the program win its first national championship, was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame and served as associate head coach to former coach Valorie Kondos Field for seven years.

Now, Waller will take over as the new coach for UCLA gymnastics.

Kondos Field announced her retirement in September after 36 years coaching the Bruins. The former coach stands behind the decision to appoint Waller and said that many of the team’s successes have been due to his coaching abilities.

“My blood runs Bruin blue, and I cannot wait to continue this journey,” Waller said in the article published Wednesday.

Beach volleyball claims second straight NCAA title, UCLA’s 117th

The crosstown rivalry saw a new stage in the NCAA beach volleyball championship finals.

For the second year in a row, the No. 2 seed UCLA Bruins took the NCAA title Sunday taking three courts to none. The win over No. 1 seed USC comes after UCLA had fallen against the same rival in the Pac-12 finals a week before.

According to coach Stein Metzger, the weather conditions in Gulf Shores, Alabama, favored the Bruins and their game as they could control the ball and its speed better. He also said that bouncing back from the Pac-12 loss was easy because of the way the team came together. He praised the team’s close bond.

The win both marks UCLA’s 117th NCAA title and the graduation of five seniors. Metzger said the title is an excellent last success for these graduating seniors.

The Quad: Vacating Venezuela

The reaches of the Venezuelan crisis do not exclude the UCLA community.

Recently, the Quad attempted to explain the volatile political, economic and humanitarian circumstances that have created a diaspora across Latin America. “Vacating Venezuela” highlights the opinions and personal experiences crafted by those who study Venezuela, those who call it home and those who have had to run away from it.

The Venezuelan crisis has seen 5 million people migrate to other developing nations in Latin America. The country, on the verge of a coup, lies in an unsettling balance between two contesting presidents who each claim their own legitimacy. In addition, the country is experiencing hyperinflation, which was predicted to reach an astounding 10 million percent by the end of 2019.

Isabel Roig, a second-year applied mathematics student from Caracas, Venezuela, finds the contrast between the United States’ and Venezuela’s respective political situations so bizarre it even seems hard to explain to her UCLA peers.

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Veronica Fernandez De Soto
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