Lea Toubian, a fourth-year political science and environmental studies double major, has been elected Associated Students (AS) president for the remainder of the UC Santa Barbara school year. Toubian first got involved with AS by being the external director for the UCSB Lobby Corps as a first-year. She then joined the AS Senate, before transitioning into the role of president.
When the former president resigned, Toubian recognized that there was a considerable amount of work to be done and stepped up to help run the office with the interim President Tiana White. There, she grew familiar with the responsibilities of being president and realized the office would be strained even further if it had to undergo another significant transition of power. Toubian decided to run for AS President to help smoothly bridge this gap.
“Lea Toubian, a fourth-year political science and environmental studies double major, has been elected Associated Students (AS) president for the remainder of the UC Santa Barbara school year.”
“It sort of gave everyone the green light to just continue what we were doing, full steam ahead,” Toubian explained. This unique position has given her more opportunities to work directly with others so that different tasks could quickly be set in motion.
One of Toubian’s platform objectives was advocacy for marginalized groups. Her office strives to achieve this with the COVID-19 task force and the efforts to push specialized grants. Working with organizations like the Student Commission on Racial Equity (SCORE), these targeted grants would help specific groups on campus who disproportionately feel the effects of the pandemic. This assistance is coupled with the general COVID-19 grant, of which Toubian was the task force chair for last spring. While creating the grant, she was grateful to Isla Vista Tenants Union and even the general student body feedback for the help. Toubian’s office also advocated for the pass/no-pass grade extension for grading during the quarters. She has also used targeted outreach to work with the Black Student Union to create mental health workshops.
Her platform highlighted two other focuses regarding accountability and access to resources. Toubian continues to fight for reduced student fees with the other UC Associated Students presidents. While they are not necessarily met with enthusiasm from UC-wide administration, she states they will continue pressing this issue as students are still not receiving the same school resources being paid for.
“One of Toubian’s platform objectives was advocacy for marginalized groups…Her platform highlighted two other focuses regarding accountability and access to resources.”
“If we can’t refund students’ money then we need to figure out how to use that money in a way that serves them,” Toubian stated. Some strategies include safely opening up campus resources such as the Recreation Center, Pardall Center, and more of the library. By doing this, students would have access to places that support their health, host services such as paper-printing, and offer opportunities for employment. Additionally, Toubian is grateful for those places that have remained open, such as the AS Food Bank.
There are also some things Toubian and her officer must look out for in the near future. While the current COVID-19 grant ends the second week of February, the winter version of the grant will be running. They anticipate two more grants this quarter, one with the UCSB The Food Security & Basic Needs Taskforce and the other for international students with the AS Global Gaucho Commission. Students who are eligible are encouraged to apply and keep up with AS on social media.
As she moves forward, Toubian would like to say that she is very inspired by the student body and compliments the resilience of UCSB’s student government in the face of these times. She would like to give her office, in particular, recognition for their appreciated flexibility. Toubian concluded, “I have a lot of hope for how the rest of this year will go.”