Interview: Kevin Higuchi


PARTY: Open People’s Party (OPP)
YEAR: Second
MAJOR: Business Economics
MINOR: Statistical Science

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

I think that AS could benefit the most from increased efficiency within itself. This burden falls on the members of AS, both to maintain accountability for the involvement of its current members and to continue their commitment towards working together for common goals. To that extent, there have been several events that have transpired as result of inadequacies within the AS system, such as the continued increases to student fees, or the onset of the 15-unit minimum requirement.

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

As the Internal Vice President (IVP), my job would be among other things to facilitate and manage the Legislative Council meetings, as well as serve as a resource and advisor to help these council members. Many new members experience an unusually long transition period into the office due to a sloppy introduction and lack of any external support. This “learning” period results in a dead loss of campus work. Other members may lack motivation and fail to become personally invested in their responsibilities, and will find ways to retain their position despite an obvious incompetency. Sound, central leadership from the IVP could change this.

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? Many students fail to vote because they are unaware of the student body election, and even more students are actually aware of the election, but choose not to vote because they cannot see their vote affecting change on campus. This contradicts our excellent voter turnout because students are kept involved in government politics, and see the results on a continual basis. We can increase the involvement of students in voting for AS elections by both expanding our campaigns to include more students and informing them of the significance of their vote by using relevant facts. But even more important than the extent of our campaigns, is our focus throughout the year with normal activity. If we represent the student body best we can with day-to-day work, the significance and knowledge of AS’ work will speak for itself and increase voter turnout.

4) Discuss any experiences in the campus community that you feel will inform your work as a campus leader.

This year and last I volunteered for and helped with countless campus activities ranging from distributing finals kits, to facilitating AS-involvement workshops, to helping organize a break-out session in response to the 15-unit increase requirement. My assigned work with these committees as well as my collaborations with various student organizations and campus departments has given me a passion for involvement in campus issues. I also currently serve as the Chair for Associated Students Finance Board, ensuring the responsible management of an almost $7 million dollar budget. I’ve also learned more about the internal workings of Associated Students through work with various committees such as the Investment Advisory Committee and Legislative Council.

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

Like many of my peers, I came into AS with a strong preference towards certain student resources. However, unlike many of my constituents, the demand for me to stay neutral and objective for my involvement with Finance Board superseded any personal tendencies of my own. As a result I learned to naturally appreciate and respect all the student groups for their desire to better the student body experience. That being said, I feel that virtually all student resources contribute to serve and benefit students, each in its own unique and significant way. The only exception I can make to this is an entity that exhibits a flagrant and intentional misuse of funds or resources, or one that directly infringes upon the personal rights of others.

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?

I will become more involved with the External Vice President of Statewide Affairs, a position in AS that assumes the primary responsibility for lobbying the state and national governments, to find a solution. I will collaborate with the EVPSA and work with legislative council members to try to bring the commitment to lower student fees tangible in the form of an outreach to students, something we have yet to see effectively implemented. I can also work within legislative council to pass legislation that will lower and offset other campus related costs, such as parking and student housing. By doing this we can still limit our total incurred costs, and hopefully make our education accessible to more people.