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USAC 2023-2024 Candidate Debates: President

(From left to right: Courtesy of Bryce Busch, Courtesy of Poom Yoodee, Courtesy of Carl King Jr., Courtesy of Nate Magari, and Courtesy of Naomi Hammonds)

By Dylan Winward

May 5, 2023 1:44 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Poom Yoodee’s name.

This post was updated May 6 at 5:32 p.m.

Five candidates for Undergraduate Students Association Council president attended the second and final of the USAC 2023-2024 candidate debates Thursday.

The Elections Board and the Daily Bruin co-hosted a series of debates between candidates in the upcoming USAC election. Five candidates are running for the position of president.

Bryce Busch, a third-year history student, said he wants to provide more transparency for students by showing how money obtained from student fees is allocated. Bryce added that he wants to increase turnout at USAC elections by reducing distrust in the student government and working with BruinsVote to help students understand their voting options.

“There is no excuse to not be open with students and to not tell them what’s happening,” he said. “I hope that if we increase transparency, we increase voter student turnout and students care more.”

Bryce also said he feels there is a perception that USAC incumbents are only in office for their $10,000 annual stipend. He added his experience as a staffer, rather than a representative, in the external vice president office would help him bring change at the federal, state and university level.

Naomi Hammonds, a third-year psychobiology student, said she was running to give more support for underrepresented communities by increasing funding opportunities and bringing their voices into USAC conversations. She added that one of her platforms, which she calls “planning the dinner,” calls for creating infrastructure to allow all students to have a seat at the table.

Hammonds said she hopes to better support students managing USAC budgets, making the process of getting funding for student programming smoother after complaints received this year.

Hammonds added that she feels UCLA’s response of creating task forces and resolutions has been insufficient in addressing the issues that most affect marginalized students.

“We still have to do better. We still have to serve better, and we still have to listen better to students,” she said. “I don’t know every issue on this campus. I need students to tell me. I need to make it accessible. I need to have feedback forms and stuff of that nature.”

Carl King Jr., a third-year business economics student, said he was running for reelection because he feels that there is still more work to be done to improve the lives of students on campus.

King also said he hopes to reopen currently closed dining halls to reduce the lines students face to get meals on the Hill. He said he hopes this will build on the work his office has done to reopen Cafe 1919.

He added that he plans to consult a diverse team of stakeholders to help better represent student views in his position.

“My office will live to do a lot for the student body,” he said. “There’s so much more work to be done.”

Nate Magari, a third-year astrophysics and applied mathematics student, said he would use a random lottery system to determine who would serve on his budget committees. He said he hopes to restore trust to USAC by bringing fresh ideas into the role.

Magari also said his experience working as the director of campus affordability in the office of the Financial Supports commissioner would help him understand how to help disadvantaged students.

“I think a lot of the negative sentiments around USAC have to do with the fact that there isn’t really a way to remove students or hold them accountable for their position,” he said. “I think that once you’re elected, that should be the start of your campaign.”

“I will work every day. My job will never be finished because there will always be room for improvement. There’s always more to fight for,” he said.

Poom Yoodee, a third-year microbiology student, said he wants to make USAC more accessible to the student body by engaging more with the Mother Organizations coalition and retention programs.

Yoodee also said he hopes to hold the administration accountable for university-wide spending. He added that USAC leaders should not only be more accountable but more reliable by livestreaming updates about their role.

“I want to set up a permanent presidential advisory cabinet so clubs and orgs can get involved in our student government, making decisions that affect the long-term problems that we face,” Yoodee said.

Students can vote in the election on MyUCLA starting May 5 at 12 p.m. and ending May 12 at 2 p.m.

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Dylan Winward | News editor
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
Winward is the 2024-2025 News editor and an Arts, Copy, Photo, PRIME and Sports contributor. He was previously the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. Winward is a third-year English and statistics student from London in the United Kingdom.
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