Interview: Liz Buda


POSITION: External VP for Local Affairs
PARTY: Student Voice!
YEAR: Third
MAJOR: Film Studies

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

The issue with AS is that it needs to include more students in the process, and that will directly lead to more students being included on a local level. In terms of Isla Vista and Santa Barbara County, the issue is making sure policies that are negative towards students aren’t created. The problem with us being fully represented is that there are very few people currently involved in local affairs and AS largely because AS is viewed as inaccessible, so my goal is to really reach out and make people feel that IV is important because the majority of students live or will eventually live in Isla Vista, and also to make sure that they feel that they are invested in and are apart of AS.

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

The primary issue I hope to tackle is representation and making sure decisions that are made in Isla Vista actually represent what students want and need. For example, working with local county officials and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol to make sure they’re representative of the people of Isla Vista so there aren’t things like the zero tolerance noise ordinance, or that they are held accountable for the rising rent costs, or the unfair evictions. Finally, it’s making sure that the future of Isla Vista is what members of the community want, for example, having a voice in the Master Plan, being actively involved in that process and also keeping our open spaces and not letting the county just build on all of them.

3) While UCSB has the highest per capita of registered student 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 feel that students don’t feel invested in AS and that they don’t feel that it necessarily works for them. With the large amount of money that AS has, it’s important to make people feel that their work is important. So my goal is really to focus on the issues that affect students, and from a local affairs standpoint, the majority of students live in IV, so huge issues that really affect them are issues like safety and tenants rights. It’s really important to go back to what students care about, not just have signs out there and not work with students, but rather find out what they want. This is the greatest opportunity to find out what students want and need and that’s the goal for everyone running in this election should be.

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

Basically, ever since my freshman year, everything I’ve done has been centered on Isla Vista. I’ve been in Chilla Vista since my freshman year and I’m currently the head organizer, which I want to continue until next year. I’m also the coordinator of the Isla Vista Community Relations Committee, which is an AS group that provides funding for events and programs that improve Isla Vista. I’m also currently a student representative of the Project Area Committee, which oversees the Master Plan and works for the redevelopment of IV. I’ve been working really hard to make sure students are represented in decisions the county makes. Also, I was the External Coordinator for STAR, Students Teaching Alcohol and other Drug Responsiblility, which promotes positive experiences in IV and on campus. So almost everything I’ve done has been for IV. I love this place and want to make it the best that it can be.

5)What kind of student resources (organizations, events, etc.) that approach AS for funding do you think most directly serve students?

Again, from a local affairs stand point, I really feel that anything promoting positive experiences in IV, healthy choices and that increases awareness of issues going on is what should be funded. For example, I feel that festivals in the park are the perfect opportunity to bridge different communities that live in IV in a fun way that’s all about personal and community well-being. I also think the peer health internships that get funding through AS are extremely beneficial to students because they provide water and food to them on a Saturday night, ensuring that everyone makes healthy decisions and good choices.

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 student fees and what makes your plan the best?

What’s really rare about UCSB is that we are the only campus with two external offices: the External Vice President of Statewide Affairs, and the External Vice President of Local Affairs. At the statewide level, I’m there to fully support the statewide office in decreasing these fees or just keeping them where they should be. At a local level, my goal is to keep landlords accountable and I’d like to create a student-run landlord watch group to make sure students are aware that their deposits should not be fully taken from them, that their houses can be fixed, and which management companies to avoid. I will also work with the county for affordable housing with the Master Plan, so students won’t have to spend $800 for a double.