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Several candidates run for Graduate Students Association election

Nine candidates and one referendum will be featured on the ballot for the upcoming Graduate Students Association election. The candidates (clockwise from top left) include Donald Zelaya, Danny Ying, Candace Wang, Noor Nakhaei, Priyanka Sigar, Sonya Brooks, Jamie Leonard and Ernesto Arciniega. (Courtesy of GSA Elections Board)

By Alexandra Kaiser

March 16, 2022 2:12 p.m.

This post was updated March 16 at 3:07 p.m.

The ballot for the Graduate Students Association election will include nine candidates and one referendum.

The candidates are running for four positions: president, vice president of internal affairs, vice president of external affairs and vice president of academic affairs. The internal affairs office is unopposed.

GSA Graduate Opportunity and Learning Experience (Gold) Referendum seeks to increase graduate student fees by $2 per quarter or $3 per semester to fund graduate student programs and services.

The referendum will also increase student fees by an additional $2 per quarter or $3 per semester every year through the 2025-2026 academic year, resulting in a total student fee increase of $8 per quarter or $12 per semester by fall 2025. Beginning fall 2026, the $8 quarterly or $12 semesterly fee increase will be subject to annual inflation adjustments in accordance with the Los Angeles County Consumer Price Index, a publicly-calculated inflation metric.

Voting will take place online between April 5 and 11, and results will be certified April 12.

President

Donald Zelaya

Zelaya is a public policy graduate student advocating for better resources for graduate students, including more affordable housing, improved networking opportunities and better local transportation options. Zelaya is currently the GSA director of internal affairs and is running under the Let’s A.C.T candidate slate.

Noor Nakhaei

Nakhaei is a computer science doctoral student calling for affordable housing, transparency from the UCLA administration, advisor-student relationships and social programming. Nakhaei is currently the GSA director of campus relations and a board member of the Engineering Graduate Students Association and is running as an independent.

Vice President of Internal Affairs

Adejah Taylor

Taylor is an education and information studies doctoral student focusing on creating community between graduate students, advocating for affordable housing, expanding transportation benefits for students and demanding transparency from the UCLA administration in policy and decision-making. Taylor is running under the Let’s A.C.T slate.

Vice President of External Affairs

Jamie Leonard

Leonard is a civil and environmental engineering doctoral student hoping to represent and advocate for graduate students across the University of California and work on state and national lobbying. She is also helping organize the second Women in STEM Conference at UCLA. Leonard is currently the vice president of the Engineering Graduate Students Association and is running as an independent.

Ernesto Arciniega

Arciniega is a Hispanic literatures doctoral student advocating to increase teaching assistant salaries, decrease student housing rent and enhance mental health resources. He also plans to create an advocacy program in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and improve sustainability on campus. Arciniega is currently the GSA director of organizing and the vice chair of the UC Graduate and Professional Council. He is running as an independent.

Danny Ying

Ying is a statistics graduate student planning to prioritize student needs with data-based approaches, improve transparency on office policies and expand the GSA bench-to-bill initiative that connects graduate students with state policymakers. Ying is running under the Let’s A.C.T. slate.

Vice President of Academic Affairs

Sonya Brooks

Brooks plans to be a voice for graduate students and represent their needs and interests on the Academic Senate. Brooks is running as an independent.

Priyanka Sigar

Sigar is a psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences doctoral student calling to limit the use of the GRE in graduate admissions and improve the work environment in faculty-professional mentorship training. She also plans to create programs to prioritize work-life balance by reviewing parenting leave, career reviews and stop-the-clock policies. Sigar is currently a career liaison on the Biological Sciences Council and is running as an independent.

Candace Wang

Wang is the incumbent vice president of academic affairs. Over her term, she has advocated to increase the number of staff members at the Center for Accessible Education and created a new office to address student needs while returning to campus from remote learning. Wang called for the formation of a threat response task force in response to campus mass shooting threats from a former UCLA philosophy lecturer. If reelected, she plans to continue to advocate for campus life, transportation and transparency. Wang is running under the Let’s A.C.T. slate.

Information for this story was obtained from candidate statements provided by the GSA Elections Board.

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