Interview: Justin Reyes


POSITION: External VP for Statewide Affairs
PARTY: Student Voice!
YEAR: Second
MAJOR: Asian American Studies
MINOR: Queer Studies

1) Where do you think AS has the most room for improvement?

My initial response is the active involvement of students. Its really important to look at Associated Students beyond Finance Board and beyond Leg Council because while a lot of great things have come out of those spaces, and they get a lot of press coverage, support for the other Boards, Committees, and Commissions is really important. Making sure that groups like the Women’s Commission for example, are getting the credit they deserve, and that when we recruit to AS, we’re recruiting to all our BCCs, is a good thing. There are many avenues in AS to get involved in and we have spaces to spark all types of interest, so making a really conscious effort in engaging students beyond what they think AS is and into what they really are interested in is really important.

2) What is the primary issue that you hope to tackle during your tenure?

As well all know, it’s 2008 and the elections are coming up in the fall, so initially for fall quarter that’s going to be a huge thing. I really believe we’ve showed everybody,— politicians, administrators, our peers— that 2008 is the year students are getting engaged in the issues that affect them, so voter registration is going to be one big project for me, our office and our Voter Registration Coalition. Beyond that I plan to bid for the UC Student Association Student of Color Conference. Last year we brought about 100 students from our campus to UCSC, and I think it’s really a good time for UC Santa Barbara to host the conference because we’re in a really amazing place with our involvement as students. This is where a lot of activism has happened, this is where a lot of work is being done, and I think it’s a really great opportunity for us to get Santa Barbara on the map.

3) While UCSB has the highest per capita of registered students voters of any US university, only 21.95% of undergraduates participated in last year’s AS Elections. What do you think accounts for this difference in energy?

Why should students vote and how will you encourage them to do so? I think it really stems to engaging students and making sure they actually believe that AS is here for them, and understand the many things that AS does and has the capacity to do still. Involving them and getting them to vote in this year’s elections is really important for sustaining work that’s being done and to make sure we’re taking steps toward doing work that maybe students are interested in but aren’t seeing in AS. I really believe that students do care about the issues that affect them and that they have the knowledge base our elected officials in AS and all our participants in this association work on, so I think it’s really about inciting that interest in them to get involved in AS.
4) Discuss any experiences in the campus community that you feel will inform your work as a campus leader.

I am the co-chair of the Student Commission on Racial Equality and we took the largest delegation of students to the Student of Color Conference this year. Being able to galvanize 100 people to go to a conference was really important for me, especially students who had never been to a conference before or been involved in AS in any capacity before. I have also been involved in voter registration work all of fall quarter and winter quarter. It’s a lot a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun and getting people to register to vote is so important. I’ve been to most of the UC Regents meetings in the past two years, spoken at public comment, white lined (which is where you can cross the divide between the VIP’s and the public). Being able to be in those spaces with the UC Student Association is very important for me and has really inspired my passion and fervor for the work that we do in this office and being able to connect with people across the state. A lot of their needs are our needs, a lot of issues are their issues, and being able to have that wide network makes UCSB stronger and makes our network stronger. We become a lot more powerful in keeping the regents accountable, the legislature accountable, and it really does inform a lot of the work we do as a statewide coalition.

5) What kinds of student resources (organizations, events, etc.) that come to AS for funding do you feel most directly serve students?

I think every organization that comes to finance board is totally valid in the funding that they are requesting. I think all of the events that happen touch and reach students in different ways and each event is equally important to our campus. It’s really important to support student organizations because they are the backbone of this campus and bridge spaces between organizations and AS. It shouldn’t be judged by the number of attendants, or how much money this would cost, I think each and every event we fund is an event that at least one student will get something out of.

6) It was recently announced that the next UC President’s base salary is jumping to $591,000, while student fees continue to rise. How will you address the issue of rising students fees and what makes your plan the best?

The fact that student fees rise every year is a very dangerous trend and is detrimental to the student experience. I really believe that we can address this by active involvement in UCSA actions getting students to the regents meetings, which we’ve been good about. I think students really care that their fees are going up every year, so I’d like to have workshops with student organizations through AS about what is being done, where the numbers are, where they’re going to be and how as students we can get involved through the office of External Statewide Affairs, and really hold the regents accountable. It’s easy for people to say students are apathetic, but I really don’t believe they are. I feel they just need the information. The regents meet every other month, and I would love to have workshops and teach-ins every other month as well. Having that knowledge base and constantly being in that space is the backbone of being able to keep the regents accountable.