Q&A with Navkiran “Navi” Kaur, DP Party Candidate for AS President

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Interview by Anjali Shastry, Opinions Editor

Why do you want to be AS president?

I want to be AS president because I have been on the ground organizing on this campus really since day one of my undergraduate career at UC Santa Barbara. I got involved with Associated Students literally within my first quarter at UCSB; I was actually a fellow for the Office of the President–funny story, actually, I guess that’s where it starts… So then I got more involved, I actually decided to run my freshman year. That happened, and I found my place with DP Party, and that was when I was co-chair for the student commission on racial equality, and then I ran again. I got to be a senator the second half of the year, actually, my second year, and it was an interesting year… I also learned a lot there, how to stay true to your values, and how to represent all people, really, as well, like people on this campus. It opened my eyes to more isms, like classism, more about racism, misogyny, how patriarchy functions as well.

I started noticing a lot of things that bothered me about Associated Students, and how just–how just really messed up it is right now. It’s really not, in my opinion, representing all students. I feel like Associated Students has not been associated with the students. I feel as though there’s just a lot of disconnect between Associated Students and the actual students that do work on this campus, like the actual organizing, where things are actually getting done, I think they’re disconnected… I’ve been a part of Associated Students since my freshman year, so I really do understand Associated Students fairly well, I feel. And I have been a part of the students who work on the ground, who organize as well, and so I feel like that that’s why I want to be president. I want to connect that bridge and organize in Associated Students. I want to be sure to represent all students on this campus, the students on the ground, the working-class students, the student workers, the undocumented community, the queer community, the trans community, my community as well. I also am here because I’m representing all of those people. I want to be the vessel, or the vehicle, for their change, for the goals of their community as well… Also, I feel like on top of that, I have great networks with administration on this campus; I worked in Office of Student Life, Multicultural Center, I’m a NUFP fellow, for the Student Affairs Fellowship, and so I know a lot of administration through that. I feel like all these different connections will lead to a very productive Associated Students. Sorry that was so long! That question just made me think.

Student apathy for the Association is still a persistent issue. How do you plan on making AS a more inclusive association?

I don’t like the phrase apathetic students. I don’t feel like students are apathetic; I feel like students are unaware of the issues, and I feel like students need to learn more, need to learn differently. For example, the European Traditions requirement–we don’t even need that requirement. Let’s add a Sexual and Gender requirement, let’s add a more diversity requirements, more ethnicity requirements, because I feel as though things of that nature will help educate the student body more than the European Traditions requirement. We’ve grown up our whole life learning Western form of education. I feel like that’s where it starts, with education. I don’t feel as though students are apathetic.

What will you do as president to address continued state divestment from higher education and subsequent rising UC tuition?

Ooh, that’s a great question. First and foremost, I would definitely continue actively lobbying our representatives, both at the state and national level. I also believe that we should also obviously be lobbying our representatives at the local level as well, and I think we should really be promoting student lobby…more as well to send larger groups of students to the lobby. I think that should be publicized more as well. I also feel like organizations, like the University of California Student Association, and the United States Student Association, are very important for this reason. They bring students from around the state–UCSA–and for USSA, students around the nation, together, in one space, and that’s really important. That helps build statewide and nationwide coalitions and networks. We can use that to build student power, and we have power in numbers, so organizations like those are really, really critical for the student movement. Really, if you have statewide networks, we can mobilize, you know, 10,000 students to Sacramento. That’s been done in the past; we can definitely do that again. That requires statewide networks and a lot of statewide organizing and knowing how to navigate conferences like the University of California Student Association conferences and sending hundreds of students to those conferences and really being actively engaged in those spaces. The same goes for USSA. Their conferences are really important and we should be sending students there. We should be actively engaged and participating in the organization.

What will you do as president to defend student organizations?

That’s a great question. I think first and foremost, it’s about what student organizations want. I’m not here to speak on the behalf of organizations I’m not actively involved with, so that would be something I would always keep in mind. Also, I would definitely promote Finance Board to always be very critical about the money requests that come in, and always being very supportive of our student organizations. So I’d also be sure to ensure that no student organization is feeling threatened by administration or other student organizations as well. We need to ensure that all student organizations are promoting a safe environment for all students… I would also ensure that student organizations are getting the funding that they need to continue and to sustain themselves as well. Also, ultimately, I will be present at organizations. I know I can’t be at absolutely every one of them, but I will do my best to be present and approachable. I will continue to do that, because I feel as though I do try my best in doing that as well, and I think it’s important to, again, network in that way, because that helps create coalitions on this campus and that’s what we need. Students really need to be unified and stand together in that way, because I feel like right now, we do have huge disconnects on this campus.

How do you plan on creating a fair and honest budget that will keep AS financially sound while simultaneously ensuring the reach and impact of the Association?

I would make sure to work with all aspects of Associated Students when even beginning to think about the budget. I think this process needs to start ahead of time; I need to be, for one, always checking how BCCs, for one, are spending their budgets, to ensure that I am aware, ahead of time, when the budget needs to be made for the following year, how BCCs are spending their money throughout the year…

I would also be very open and always communicating with the AS administration as well, and our staff, because we decide their salaries and they have families. It’s very important to me to also be communicating with our administration that do so much for us, and our staff that do so much work for us–and they’re so important to the administration. A lot of the Association functions with their help…

The BCCs that represent marginalized and underrepresented communities are the ones that really need the support. They really have a lot to do…for their communities on this campus. Therefore we also need to remember that we need to support our fellow students and make sure that every person on this campus is feeling safe and feeling welcomed, and that they have the resources that they need, because we do have to remember that this institution does give privilege to others, and oppresses others in different ways. Different identities are affected in different ways, so we need to remain critical of that, and I’ll definitely take that into account when doing the budget for the different BCCs and the staff salaries… Oftentimes, folks forget that organizing can be done on a very limited budget. You can organize events and rallies and marches under $200, under $100–like you really don’t need that much, and I think people forget that.

Photo Courtesy of AS Elections Committee

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