USAC fills its three empty seats following special election
Orion Smedley, a third-year physics student, was elected as general representative 2 during the Undergraduate Students Association Council fall special election. Smedley and newly elected general representative 3 Brandon Broukhim, ran against five other candidates. (Niveda Tennety/Assistant Photo editor)
Nov. 1, 2019 12:31 a.m.
All Undergraduate Students Association Council seats are now filled following the end of the fall special election Thursday.
Millen Srivastava, a fourth-year political science and biology student, will fill the USAC Financial Supports commissioner seat. Orion Smedley, who received 946 votes, and Brandon Broukhim, who received 1339 votes, were also appointed as general representatives two and three on the council, beating out five other candidates. A little over 9% of undergraduate students voted in the special election.
USAC is the UCLA undergraduate student representative council that manages nearly $9 million in student fees every year. Students pay about $350 each to USAC every year, and each representative receives about $10,000 per year in stipends.
The USAC election board had to run a fall special election since an insufficient number of candidates ran in the spring to fill the 2019-2020 council. USAC has been operating three members short since May 7, with 12 out of 15 seats filled until Thursday.
Election board chair Kyana Shajari previously cited a lack of publicity for why there were so few candidates on the ballot. Of the 16 candidates that ran in the 2019 spring election, nine ran uncontested.
All special-election candidates ran independently of slates.
Srivastava, who ran unsuccessfully for USAC president in spring, said she’s been looking forward to sitting on the council.
“I have a lot of FSC experience; I know that the office is a very important office,” Srivastava said. “We’re already put at a disadvantage because (of) the fall election, so (we’re) just getting started as soon as possible.”
Srivastava added she was excited to get started.
Smedley, a third-year physics student, said he plans to follow through on his campaign promise to bring back the bus from the Los Angeles International Airport and UCLA, which previously closed because of a lack of use.
Smedley added that he will try to make USAC more transparent with the money the council spends.
“I think people have in general been kind of frustrated with USAC; I think most of the people I’ve talked to haven’t thought that USAC is very important, and I think I brought them a little bit of hope, maybe, for a sort of difference in USAC,” Smedley said.
Smedley said he was pretty surprised at the results.
“There’s a lot of candidates and the chances were kind of low,” Smedley said.
Walker Cook, who ran for general representative and lost, said he was pleasantly surprised Smedley got elected.
“I think that he could really make some really substantive changes on campus,” Cook, a third-year political science student, said.
Shajari, a fourth-year psychology student, said she did not expect seven candidates for the general representative position
“It was very refreshing to see,” Shajari said.
Broukhim, a third-year public affairs and history student, said one thing he was concerned about was the low voter turnout.
“The one thing (students) get is the right to vote for their representatives, so every student should be voting, and we’re not there, so we need to do better,” Broukhim said.
Broukhim is a member of the Associated Students UCLA Communications Board, which is the Daily Bruin’s publisher. Members of the communications board are not allowed to be a part of USAC. Broukhim said he plans to resign from the board and will abstain from any votes the Communications Board takes in its upcoming meeting Monday.
Justin Suarez, who ran for general representative and lost, was an independent candidate, like his opponents. He said he ran independently because he wanted to represent his own values and get his own message out.
“I feel that many candidates this election season wanted to go down that route,” Suarez said.
Suarez, a fourth-year international development studies and Asian American studies student, said he hoped the elected students will be able to grow their platforms and added he wishes them the best.