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USAC officers-elect react to victories, look toward year ahead

Kerckhoff Hall, which hosts the offices of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, is shown. Results of the 2024 USAC elections were announced Friday. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

By Shiv Patel

May 21, 2024 10:13 p.m.

As dusk began to fall on campus Friday, the dawn of a new Undergraduate Students Association Council rolled in.

USA Elections Board Chair My-Lan Le announced the results of last week’s USAC election shortly after 8 p.m. Friday via a Zoom webinar. Full results, including the complete ranked-choice voting tabulation, were published online.

After the results were announced, multiple officers-elect expressed joy and excitement for their new positions on the council. International Student Representative-elect Syed Tamim Ahmad said he was ecstatic and honored to be elected to USAC.

“The international community is awesome,” said Ahmad, who is also a second-year physiological science student. “To get an opportunity to represent the diverse and beautiful community is going to be lovely.”

Ahmad, who ran on a platform of prioritizing mental health, said he has noticed through his time as a resident assistant that international students have been reluctant to seek mental health resources because of cultural stigmas. He added that he believes addressing mental health is important for ensuring academic and career success.

Ahmad will succeed current ISR Adam Tfayli, who has been elected as the council’s president. Tfayli, a second-year human biology and society student from Lebanon, said he was hiking Friday evening when he learned that he would become the first international student to be elected USAC president.

“It just speaks to the growth of our university and how our university has become more of a global hub for students across the world,” Tfayli said.

Tfayli is not the only officer who will return to USAC next year. Cultural Affairs Commissioner Alicia Verdugo won re-election with over two-thirds of the votes cast in that race. The upcoming year will be Verdugo’s third consecutive term in the position.

The council’s two vice presidents-elect will enter their positions with prior experience in their respective offices. Internal Vice President-elect Josh Garland has served as the assistant internal vice president under incumbent IVP Megan Law, while External Vice President-elect Javier Nuñez-Verdugo works in current EVP Eva Jussim’s office.

Garland, who previously sought the internal vice presidency in the 2023 elections, said he was happy with the election results.

“After spending over an entire month campaigning, it was really nice to actually find out that I won,” he said.

Nuñez-Verdugo said they plan to continue the work of Jussim’s office, including lobbying for increased access to the Cal Grant Equity Framework and continuing to advocate for the goals of the Racial Justice NOW! campaign.

Student Wellness Commissioner-elect Chiara Frank has also had previous experience in her office through multiple positions, including serving as executive director of Active Minds UCLA – one of the commission’s 13 committees. She said her familiarity with the office and experience with problem-solving and communication will help her as commissioner.

“The institutional, foundational knowledge of the commission will help me be able to allocate our resources and guide our efforts in a way that will be effective,” said Frank, who is a third-year neuroscience student.

She added that her immediate goals include increasing the Student Wellness Commission’s collaborations with cultural and identity-based organizations and continuing relationships with on-campus entities such as the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center and the Student Health Advisory Committee to encourage health literacy.

Mona Tavassoli, a third-year political science transfer student who will succeed incumbent Transfer Student Representative Meagan Harmon, said she was proud of her campaign’s consistency.

“I’m really proud of myself for putting in the work whatever way I could and showing myself to the student body as a candidate who was capable,” she said.

Tavassoli, who will be the fifth transfer student representative in just over two years, said she plans to strengthen transfer students’ experience, including in the transition from previous institutions to UCLA. She added that she wants to continue to advance the goals of prior TSR officeholders.

Also among the 15 officers elected Friday evening were the three general representatives-elect – Diego Bollo, Tommy Contreras and Chris Ramsey. Bollo, a second-year labor studies and political science student, said he was proud of many of the endorsements he received, including from cultural organizations such as the Muslim Student Association and the Middle Eastern Student Association.

“It just means a lot to understand that there was solidarity built in this campaign,” he said. “That’s something that I really look forward to in this upcoming school year, in creating cross-cultural and cross-campus solidarity with so many communities.”

Contreras, a second-year political science and public affairs student, said he wants to improve unity on campus during his term.

“At times, it can feel like there’s definitely a lack of unity present,” Contreras said. “Focusing on harboring that sense of unity further and healing any sort of divides we may have – I think that’ll be a top priority for me as general representative.”

Like many other of Friday night’s elected officers, Ramsey, who won the third and final seat in the election for general representative, expressed his eagerness to begin his work in the new role.

“I’m really excited to go to the office and serve the Bruin community,” Ramsey said.

Contributing reports from Catherine Hamilton, News editor.

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Shiv Patel | Campus politics editor
Patel is the 2024-2025 campus politics editor and a Photo contributor. He was previously a News contributor on the campus politics beat. Patel is a second-year mathematics and economics student from Gilberts, Illinois.
Patel is the 2024-2025 campus politics editor and a Photo contributor. He was previously a News contributor on the campus politics beat. Patel is a second-year mathematics and economics student from Gilberts, Illinois.
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