Campus Beat Reporter
With the fall 2018 Special Election having come to a close, the UC Santa Barbara student body will not have an External Vice President for Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) until the spring 2019 Associated Students Elections, with A.S. Senate, A.S. Elections Board, and the EVPSA office mobilizing to address the vacancy.
According to EVPSA Campus Organizing Director Alexandra Gessesse, the most pressing consequence of the vacancy is the disappearance of “a student representing our larger campus’ need” on issues such as rent control, tuition rollback, and police force both on and off campus.
During Senate’s public forum this week, Elections Board Chairs John Paul Renteria and Davis Quan stated that the Board will be discussing the possibility of another EVPSA special election during the fourth week of winter quarter 2019.
However, Gessesse said “by the time that election is over, Spring elections would start, giving the newly elected EVPSA maybe an eight to ten week term in total. While it might sound better to have a short-termed one than not one at all, it would only cause more chaos in our office.”
Madeline Loudon, a third-year history of public policy major and runner-up of the spring 2018 A.S. Elections, ran as the sole uncontested candidate during this fall special election.
The final voter turnout of the Fall special election was 10.55 percent, 5.45 percent shy of the required 16 percent needed to validate the results. According to Quan, the Board came to the 16 percent number by averaging past voter turnout and “consulting sources to confirm that the threshold was at a good number.”
“The students have done the most. The lack of voter turnout in this Special Election is not voter apathy, it is voter exhaustion,” said Gessesse in an email sent out to all A.S. Entities.
Addressing the Chairs, Proxy Dhishal Jayasinghe proposed that Senate update A.S. Legal Code to provide for a “plan of recourse” in light of potential emergencies such as the EVPSA vacancy.
Gessesse states that Senate has been “proactive and hands-on” in writing legislation that helps the EVPSA office get access to financial resources to continue operations. In fact, Senate passed a resolution on Friday, June 29 that split the duties and funds of the EVPSA amongst several individuals.
Currently, the EVPSA office is working on the UCweVote campaign, which aims to register students to vote, provide voter education, and get out the vote on Election Day. They are also working on FundTheUC project, which focuses on tuition rollback. Additionally, the office is rekindling relationships with cultural organizations to further the Racial Justice Now and ACQUIRE campaigns to connect resources back into campus communities. Lastly, the office is working to address rent control at the statewide level.
“We are having our next University of California Student Association (UCSA) Board Meeting this weekend at UC Merced, where we will be briefed on potential changes, updates, or improvements to legislation that the EVPSA would have been vocal for,” said Gessesse.
Since there is no EVPSA, a team of representatives will be attending the meeting.
“The three officers [in the EVPSA office will attend the Board meeting] with a legislative liaison, ACQUIRE Chair, RJN Chair, Campus Organizing Director, UndocuCoalition representatives, and two others,” said Gessesse. The representatives will try to stand in and advocate on legislation as the EVPSA would have.
For now, Senate and the EVPSA office will continue to work together despite the EVPSA vacancy. However, the office will have to wage through much bureaucracy due to the lack of executive power.