Two candidates for External Vice President of Statewide Affairs for the 2014-2015 school year voiced their thoughts at The Hub on the evening of Tuesday, April 16, for the AS Candidate Forum. Third-year Kashira Ayers is running with the Democratic Process (DP) party. Her opponent Melvin Singh, also a third-year, represents the Open People’s Party.
The two candidates were immediately questioned about their plans for future interactions with current president of the University of California system Janet Napolitano.
Ayers acknowledged her problem with Napolitano’s appointment.
“As students, we should have a voice with who our UC president should be,” Ayers said. “Hopefully if she is open to meeting with the student body, open to a forum and a discussion where she and students can voice their opinions. I plan on educating the student body about what she’s been doing and what she’s doing now. I plan to be open and honest about her appointment, the regents, and hold her accountable and transparent.”
Singh also expressed disapproval of Napolitano’s past decisions, especially those regarding undocumented immigrants.
“However, she is in the position right now where she’s a public figure,” said Singh. “She’s been very receptive since her appointment, and I’ve seen her engage with students. I hope to continue that. I will push for that not only in our office but for all students, because she is responsible for all of us.”
Next, the candidates were asked about the foundations of their respective campaigns and the issues they think are most important.
Singh stressed student education.
“One of the phrases I live by is, ‘you may not be involved with politics, but politics will be involved with you,’” he said. “I want to make sure students are involved and [can get access] to approach these issues together to have a louder voice.”
Ayers brought up an issue at the forefront of many students’ minds—tuition prices—and expressed ways to go around tuition increases and hold legislators accountable.
“Tuition is always rising,” she said. “Being able to afford higher education and being able to afford education is a problem, not just at this school but nationwide.”
Both candidates also placed a strong emphasis on diversity.
Singh explained that the root word of university is “universal.”
“In order to uphold the concept of ‘universal,’ we need multiculturalism,” he said.
As a first-generation student from an immigrant family, Singh emphasized opening up avenues for a larger variety of students to come to university.
Ayers has drawn attention to issues of students of color in her various positions on campus.
“I feel like we need to be focused more on increasing financial aid to students who need it, and focused on increasing number of students of color who come to this university,” Ayers said.
Both students have had leadership and policy-change experience. Singh has worked with legislators through lobbying for the past few years, and was a key player in the recent AS Week of Revenue. Ayers is heavily involved with the Black Student Union (BSU) and is currently the RA for the Black Scholar’s Hall of Santa Rosa.
“What makes me a great candidate is that I have a lot of experience in organizing, mobilizing, bringing people together, and reorganizing power,” said Ayers. “If we all work together effectively and efficiently, we can get a lot of stuff done. We can dismantle problematic hierarchical levels.”
“We as students have the power,” said Singh. “The biggest capital we have is knowledge. With AS, we can build on that knowledge by creating experiences. We need to build bridges and cohesion. At the end, we’re all students and we’re all fighting for the same thing,” said Singh.
For more information on all of the AS candidates, visit http://www.as.ucsb.edu/elections/supplement.php. Voting on GOLD begins on Monday, April 21, and will continue until Thursday, April 24.