2020 AS Election Candidates: Letters & Science Senator

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Beginning at 8 a.m. on April 20 until 4 p.m. on April 24, UCSB students have the opportunity to vote in the AS spring general election. On the ballot, students in the College of Letters & Science will be allowed to rank up to four collegiate senators to represent them on the 71st AS Senate.

These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and formatting.

1. Marcello Stephano Cutri

Marcello Stephano Cutri

Campus United

Third-Year Global Studies Major with an Art History Minor and Technological Management Program (TMP) Certification

He/Him/His

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“When I moved from South Florida, I was extremely nervous to be immersed in a completely different environment than what I was used to and was apprehensive to see if I could acclimate to the culture here at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). After the first couple of months here, however, all those emotions completely dissipated and were replaced by the feeling that I could fully be myself here devoid of others judgment and having support from the people that surrounded me. The vast amount of opportunities UCSB has given me the ability to grow into the person I am today and has become the place I call home now because of the great experiences I’ve had while going here. I want to be able to continue to keep this school as great as it already is and add some much-needed improvements to make the school even better!”

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“While some may say it is foolish that my goal is to encounter and represent the entire Letters and Sciences (L&S) student body, but that is what I plan to accomplish if I get elected into the 71st Senate. In order to do so one of my first priorities is the creation of a ‘virtual complaint box,’ which allows for students in our college along with the rest of the undergraduate population to voice their concerns directly to the AS representatives to ensure a more seamless and efficient dialogue. This will also show what issues students care more about than others which will help AS Senate lead to changes students want to see. Having this in place, as well as being a Letters and Sciences student will allow me to see what points of contention in our college need to be addressed if I get elected.”

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize?

“The most important thing that needs to be accomplished is to create more open dialogue between students and the environment around them. This refers to both campus and the community of Isla Vista since both rely on each other here at UCSB. Students deserve to have transparency to the on-goings of what is happening within the community. That is why I think it is essential to have a town hall in coordination with local law enforcement and the Drug and Alcohol department to give students relevant crime and drug statistics in Isla Vista to make them more informed members of the community. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, the creation of a ‘virtual complaint box’ will allow students to have their voices heard, fostering a more free-flowing communication between the student body and the school.”

2. Hayley Slater

Hayley Slater

Campus United

Third-Year Political Science Major

She/Her/Hers

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“I got involved in AS my second year on campus and was blown away by the dedicated work my fellow UCSB students had been doing. This motivated me to have a more involved role in AS my third year and I decided to join the board of the Isla Vista Tenants Union (IVTU). Helping students and creating resources for everyone quickly became a passion of mine. I have a lot of ideas for UCSB to make experiences for students more stress-free and make resources more accessible and I believe that the Senate is the best place to make these ideas happen.”

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“As a collegiate senator, my main priority is to alleviate academic problems on campus for students in the Letter and Sciences college. As a student in the Letter and Sciences college for over two years now, my biggest concern with the program is obtaining classes and knowing which classes to take to make a plan for my years at UCSB. The Letters and Science community is by far the biggest on campus and unfortunately, that means it also can have the least amount of accessible academic resources for students. Trouble getting into classes, trouble picking majors, trouble making a four-year plan, etc. These are all stresses on students and representing L&S students and their concerns and needs is my biggest priority.”

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize?

“If I were only to accomplish one thing in my term it would be to implement academic advising live chats. Academic advising is a resource all students need and is often the hardest to use. I know for me seeking advising can lead to long wait times and when you only need a single answer or a five-minute conversation going to the office and waiting to see someone can be a very discouraging process. This has led me and many people I know to look to peers and other avenues for answers which may not give you the full or even correct answer. Students have the right to accessible and helpful academic advice from professionals and creating live chats online is an easy fix to a difficult system.”

3. Phillip Huynh

Phillip Huynh

Campus United

Political Science and History Public Policy & Law Double Major

He/Him/His

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“I have always been interested in student government ever since high school where I was class president for three years in a row and involved in AS for all four years. Although my aforementioned leadership was relatively small-scale when compared to the affairs of the university’s student government, it has made me realize that true change starts with Associated Students. The administration is inherently detached from the student community in regards to what is going on in our lives and the problems that we are facing. I want to make sure that the voices of students from every aspect of life are heard by the administration and their concerns deliberately. I want to be an advocate for the student body by voting for initiatives and bills that will make student lives more convenient, easy, and healthy.” 

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“I hope to represent the Greek, low-income and first-generation, and Asian American communities.”

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize?

“I would prioritize starting a Late Night On-Campus Food Bank/Center. From my time here at UCSB, I have found that many of my peers here go to sleep hungry at night, not primarily because of financial insecurity, but mainly because there’s not a lot of options to get food from at night. Especially during midterms/finals season, many of our hardworking students stay up very late at night studying and preparing for tests. I am proposing a pop-up food bank/shop completely funded by AS to be located in the library from the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. during weeks four through six, and the last three weeks of the quarter. This establishment would sell cheap and affordable foods and drinks for students and is designed to waive students’ food insecurity and maintain their health by providing them with nutritional snacks; it is meant to ease their academic experience during the quarter’s most stressful times.” 

4. Aimee Wang

Aimee Wang

Campus United

Third-Year Sociology Major

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“The simple way of answering this question is that I am very passionate about our school and the student body. I see UCSB and I.V. as my home. I have been constantly moving since middle school. I went to three different high schools, and this is the first time in the past ten years for me to stay in one place for a four-year span. I think it is amazing that we have so many diverse groups on campus pursuing different goals and interests, and I enjoy reaching out to different entities, hearing their needs, and trying my best to help with them. We are all students, and I hope everyone can receive the best college experience possible.” 

For almost every student, it is inevitable to run into some sort of issues throughout college, including myself, and I understand that during those times, it is very important for students to have somebody to reach out to.” 

[Wang’s response was cut to fit the 150-word count given to each of the candidates before submitting their interviews. This was done in order to be fair to everyone who submitted their responses.]

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“I would like to represent the underrepresented and marginalized groups on AS Senate. UCSB has a very large population and not everyone is able to voice their concerns or opinions. I would like to utilize my office hour to welcome students to come chat with me and address their issues.” 

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize?

“Among the list of things I plan on doing, I am most passionate about the ‘Major Carnival.’ I came to UCSB as a sociology major, but through the past two years, I had considered switching to many other majors such as political science, history, psychology, etc. In the past years, I have met a lot of students unsure about what to major and what to expect from their major. While having the ‘Major Carnival,’ professors, representatives, and department deans will table at the beginning of the fall quarter to give students presentations on what to expect from each major and allow students to ask questions after.”

5. Ava Kargosha

Ava Kargosha

Isla Vista Party

Third-Year Psychological & Brain Sciences and Political Science Double Major

She/Her/Hers

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“I am a third-year, and instead of being involved in AS in my first two years, I took on leadership roles in other communities. I held positions such as multicultural awareness chair in housing, residential assistant (R.A.), and was vice president for Persian Student Group. AS always felt exclusive to me, but once I learned about the existence of Lobby Corp this year, I joined immediately. During my lobbying trip advocating for student mental healthcare, I realized that the differences I had been trying to make in my community work could be achieved using AS Senate’s platform. As an R.A., I was always frustrated with how my residents would continuously be turned away by Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and I had no power to fix it. I am running so I can continue my student advocacy through tangible legislation in order to better address the needs of students, and make AS more accessible.”

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“As a first-generation, low-income immigrant, the communities I hope to represent are the EOP [Educational Opportunity Program] community and the Middle Eastern community, which I have been very involved in. Although I cannot personally represent other communities on campus, I would strive to make sure the voices of marginalized communities are heard, and that their concerns are brought to the Senate floor. I understand and promote the importance of representation and visibility for all communities, especially minorities. I am running because I want to instill values of diversity and equal opportunity onto this campus, in order to make sure that every student feels welcome, heard, and has access to the resources they need.”

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize? 

“During my three years here at UCSB, I have noticed many difficulties my peers and I have faced within the department of Letters and Science. As a psychological and brain sciences major as well as a political science major, there have been many times where I’ve logged on during my pass time only to find the classes I need to be full, been terrified of being cut from an impacted major, and been told by advisors to just switch to a less popular major. If I can accomplish one thing, it is to combat over-enrollment. I would do this by authoring legislation and pressuring UCSB administration to allocate more money towards hiring more professors and adding more classes to meet the needs of each major. We are not paying for an education so that we are put into ‘weeder’ classes or kicked out of an impacted major.”

6. Jose Gonzalez-Herrera

Jose Gonzalez-Herrera

Isla Vista Party

Third-Year Sociology Major with a Minor in Applied Psychology

He/They

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“My first experience with activism at UCSB was listening to speakers and students fight for the list of demands that they would like to see happen for LGBTQIA+ students on campus. Listening to students beg to be heard by administration brought me to tears and possessed me to become involved on campus to better listen to the voices of students so that I could do whatever it took to uplift them. Investing myself in organizations and movements that I am proud of has grown me into not just a supporter, but into a leader as well. There are a lot of reasons why I decided to run for Senate, but the biggest one is that I want to serve students in whatever capacity I can, and share their voices with a university that continues to silence them.”

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“I hope to represent as many students as I can. However, I understand that I can only speak for communities that I belong to, and even then I am only one voice. I believe that the entire student body needs to be represented in the Senate. My communities are first-generation, low-income, queer, Latinx. I also hold different experiences as a student who has been homeless and lives with major depressive disorder, but I instead choose to let these empower me and not hold me down. I am also involved with multicultural Greek life and will be serving as the president of my organization during the 2020-2021 academic year. I face my own challenges as a student, and understand that everyone has their own unique experiences that cannot be grouped into one sole community. I want to uplift the voices of all students.”

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize?

“If I could only accomplish one thing during my term, I would prioritize supporting survivors of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH). Survivors need to be heard. The party culture and social scene that Isla Vista produces needs to be talked about more. The toxic culture that Greek life historically has reproduced and perpetuated needs to be dealt with and held accountable. It’s ridiculous that the university refuses to listen to survivors and support them, and instead decides to be neutral on attending to student issues. I would like to introduce a bill or resolution demanding swift action and transparency in the protocols that the university follows, so students and organizations can come forward and hold a town hall to make the voices heard, establishing a board of students who will work with Scalable Energy-efficient Architecture Lab (SEAL) and Title IX and be represented on all actions that university takes.”

7. Shva Star

Shva Star

Isla Vista Party

Fourth-Year Earth Science and East Asian Cultural Studies Double Major

She/Her/Hers

What made you decide to run for AS Senate?

“I decided to run for the collegiate senator position because I have seen SO many changes that are needed in my four years at UCSB.  Rather than complain or remain complacent, I have decided to run and advocate for my fellow Gauchos.”

Which communities do you hope to represent on AS Senate?

“I am representing all students. I would like to especially represent students from low-income first-generation students who often do not have guidance and fall through the cracks.”

If you could only accomplish one thing in your term, what would you prioritize?

“If I could only complete one thing it would be ‘weeder’ class reform. It’s a shame a single class can prevent someone from completing the major they have spent potentially years and time on. There is no reason a single class should prevent you from completing the degree you want and are paying for.”

Noe Padilla
Noe Padilla is a fourth year philosophy major. He joined The Bottom Line his first year after transferring to UCSB. He is looking to pursue a career in journalism after graduation, specifically focusing on housing issues within communities. If he’s not following a story or talking to people in the community, he’s probably taking photos or listening to music.