USAC Officer Evaluation: Johana Guerra Martinez, External Vice President
May 2, 2020 9:38 p.m.
Johana Guerra Martinez had the determination and commitment, but despite some successes, engagement with the broad population of the UCLA population was limited as well as a lack of specific moves made to implement her platforms.
Regarding the undocumented student population, Guerra Martinez was able to finish campaigns with student organizations at UCLA before winter quarter ended, tied with work done with Undergraduate Students Association Council and a coalition of undocumented student organizations on campus to offer students paid work responsibilites. Her office served as an ally pushing for budget priorities and additional funding provided by the state for undocumented sutdents, foster youth and system impact groups.
Guerra Martinez was absent from USAC council meetings for two weeks after not receiving pay as she lost her status as a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Jan. 1 and her DACA employment authorization was not renewed. She said it was a difficult time choosing to not work as a volunteer and although USAC was able to offer the rest of her stipend through surplus, she said it was hard to ask her friends for pay knowing that those dollars were originally a part of student fees.
It hurts any representative to miss meetings, especially the external vice president. However, she was able to serve as an example for other undocumented students as a student leader without documented status.
Her work with AFSCME saw success through the push through student government for the ACA-14 legislation against the University of California to prevent them from outsourcing which passes. Continued allyship and training to support the labor union also continued throughout the year.
Basic needs advocacy was another important platform for Guerra Martinez, but it ended up being one of the most disappointing aspects of her tenure. Many offices work for basic needs funding, but most of the funding is controlled through the Basic Needs Committee.
Guerra Martinez found it difficult to work with the Basic Needs Committee and that the struggles stemmed from them being an unwelcoming meeting space and anti-USAC – so that even members of her office assigned to basic needs were discouraged from interaction and were restricted in their roles.
From the get-go she was not able to oversee how basic needs funding was going and was unable to push for her initiatives due to an inability to meet with the committee – such that her first meeting with them was Week 10 of fall quarter and funding closed at the end of that week. Being out of control on your own campus did not help Guerra Martinez and the work she did through USAC and not on the ground at UCLA.
Overall, the leader of the EVP office was able to work on the level of the greater UC as well as in California. But prior external vice presidents have been able to tap into the campus on the day to day and extend into the surrounding Westwood community.
Guerra Martinez certainly had the legislative background and it is all well and good to say that change was made on the higher levels. But more work was needed on the local level at UCLA – with specific solutions to issues that the campus faced more broadly.