Ali Guthy and Navkiran “Navi” Kaur spoke to the Hub the evening of Thursday, April 17, aiming to convince their fellow Gauchos that they deserve the title of 2014-2015 Associated Students President.
Student moderator Jordan LaMarche of AS Elections Committee presented questions about topics ranging from Guthy and Kaur’s favorite films to their involvement with underrepresented groups on campus.
The two candidates revealed similar personal opinions on topics such as Deltopia, sexual assault, the state of Isla Vista today, and newly appointed UC President Janet Napolitano, but differed in their hopes for UCSB’s future membership in the United States Student Association (USSA), the largest student association in the country.
Guthy said that she believes that the USSA is a “powerful tool for students to lobby on a national level,” yet that it would be in UCSB’s best interest to withdraw so that the $10,000 membership dues can be applied somewhere that “directly benefits UCSB students.” Guthy also emphasized that UCSB’s $150,000 membership in the UC Student Association (UCSA) qualifies the campus for indirect USSA membership, which still allows UCSB to engage with USSA.
“We will still be able to attend conferences through USSA. We will still be able to become board members and leaders through that association,” said Guthy, a third-year sociology and psychology double major who is running with the Open People’s Party (OPP). “We would just not be paying $10,000 to be direct members. And I believe that that money should be going to funding that directly benefits UCSB students.”
As a member of USSA’s Board of Directors, Kaur expressed unwavering encouragement for UCSB’s continued direct membership in the organization.
“I have attended every single one of their conferences since my second year here. It has been the most empowering experience of my life,” said Kaur, a third-year sociology and black studies double major who is running with the Democratic Process Party (DP). “Student power can move mountains, and through USSA we can build coalitions and networks with students across the state. That’s building power in numbers. When we have power in numbers, we can make demands to our legislators that can make waves for the student movement.”
In addition to underscoring the benefits of maintaining direct involvement with USSA, Kaur raised the point that losing direct membership would eliminate UCSB’s delegation in the organization, a potential consequence she deemed a “shame.”
As the forum’s focus moved to Napolitano, the candidates found common ground and agreed that the unpopularity of the new UC President’s appointment needs to receive more acknowledgment.
“If elected AS President, I really hope to engage all students on this campus to discuss how they feel about Napolitano,” said Kaur. “All I hear again and again is the lack of content with this appointment. If I had to work with her, I would make sure to demand changes… She has shown zero support to students. During meetings, I have heard firsthand that she acts rude, condescending, does not take students into account nor does she care about their opinions, and that is not okay… We should constantly remain critical of administration.”
Guthy echoed Kaur’s overall sentiments about Napolitano, adding that she is disgruntled with the circumstances under which the new UC President was appointed.
“I disagree wholeheartedly with her past experience,” Guthy said. “She has no background in education, and that’s a problem. Her history with the department of homeland security is a problem. Although her past is questionable and disagreeable, she’s in office now, and the way that she got into that office was with no student input. And that process is horrible. I want to attack the process, and bring student needs and student concerns directly to her.”
In the chunk of the forum centered around the IV community, both potential AS presidents acknowledged several tangible changes that they believe would renew the “beautiful” IV culture that may be sulking behind the shadows of some oppressive and discriminatory aspects. The moderator referenced a recent article in the Santa Barbara Independent that tackles the question, “Is Isla Vista dead?,” inquiring about what direction they believe IV is heading.
“I think that our community is very unsafe and transphobic and homophobic and racist and I believe that there are often parties thrown that are racist and sexist, and that is not okay,” Kaur said. “My External Vice President of Local Affairs Daniela Bayon also wants to create signs throughout Isla Vista that list resources for students, such as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center number, the CAPS [Counseling and Psychological Services] number, the Women’s Center number. Things like that will also help students if they don’t know where to go.”
The two candidates also agreed that miscommunication between law enforcement and the students was a large contributing factor to the outcome of Deltopia.
“We need to take responsibility for the actions that took place for allowing this type of culture to exist,” Guthy said.
Guthy suggested the creation of a student advisory board as an outlet for both student and non-student community members to directly discuss the issues of Isla Vista with members of law enforcement, while Kaur chose to endorse an ongoing campaign.
“I would also agree that it was a lot of lack of transparency and a lack of communication between the students, the police, the administration,” said Kaur. “I agree that the only way to move forward at this point is to really promote the ‘Keep it Local’ campaign.”
Near the end of the forum, LaMarche asked Guthy and Kaur what they have done and what they plan to do for the underrepresented communities on campus. Guthy began her response by stating that she recognizes her privilege, going on to remind the audience of her position as a co-founder of Swipes for the Houseless, a movement giving students the option to donate unused meals at the UCSB dining commons to someone in need of a meal.
Kaur responded by explaining her work with the Office of the President and the Student Commission on Racial Equality, where as co-chair she allocated the organization’s $33,000 budget to marginalized communities on campus. She also noted her attendance and involvement in conferences with the goals of widespread education on the topic in question.
“I will continue to act as the vehicle for your change,” promised Kaur, whether or not she is elected AS President.
Guthy’s qualifications include her work during this current academic year as a collegiate senator with the college of Letters and Science, co-founder of Swipes for the Houseless, and Santa Cruz Hall Council President. Kaur has experience working in the Office of the President, acting as SCORE chair, and serving on the USSA board.
Voting for president—as well as other position and lock-in fees—is on GOLD starting Monday, April 21, and ends Thursday, April 24.