Who Do I Vote For? The USAC Candidate Guide We All Needed

Daniella Hagopian Campus, News

Written by Mia Glionna

With the USAC election around the corner, it is important for us all to be educated on who we are voting for. USAC is more than student government—it is a collective of students dedicated to representing the needs and interests of the student body as a whole. Making an educated vote in this election is a crucial part of making improvements that benefit student interest. As Afrikan Student Union (ASU) Vice President Joshua Jackson states, “USAC holds a lot of power…it is critical that we are aware of what we are voting for.” This is especially important with the context of getting the demands of the ASU met in the upcoming year. Josh urges Black Bruins to “start familiarizing ourselves” in order to get ASU demands met, including a Black Resource Center. However, without a central space for candidate information, it can be hard to make that decision.

This is where we come in. We streamlined available candidate information from across the Web and USAC Election Board events so that you can make a well-informed vote during election week. I urge you to take some time and read this information prior to or while you are making your vote. Hours of hard work and research has gone into this election guide—hours that you now don’t have to spend when voting.

The information in this list is a compilation of candidate information from election board-approved social media campaigns, USAC Candidate hearings and debates, and personal interviews. As a constituent of Afrikan Student Union, we are also highlighting who is endorsed by ASU and why. ASU endorsed candidates based upon their support and ability to meet ASU demands and the representation of ASU members within USAC.

This list is compiled of information researched both in person and online—if any candidate seems to be lacking information, this reflects the amount of information I was able to find. Feel free to explore links to candidate information pages for more information. #TrueBruinsVote


President

Robert Blake Watson (Independent)

Platforms

  • Recreate the Presidential Search Committee to make appointments fair and inclusive
  • Permanently provide free blue books and scantrons to all students
  • Make laundry services inexpensive
  • Publicize UCLA Basic Needs Committee meetings
  • Restructure on- and off-campus housing to be more queer and trans inclusive
  • Work with ASU, UCLA Recreation, and ASUCLA Board of Directors to meet ASU demands and create a Black Resource Center  

Experience

  • Current USAC Internal Vice President
  • 3 years of USAC experience in Office of the President, the internal Vice President, and the General Representative
  • Restarted Campus Safety Alliance
  • Head director of Good Clothes, Good People
  • Started Good Clothes Good People, UCLA’s first basic needs redistribution center
  • Reinstated Spring Enormous Activities Fair
  • Connected 180+ student organizations to funding resources
  • Vocal proponent for ASU demands as Internal Vice President

Endorsed by ASU for his history of support and taking action to meet ASU demands as Internal Vice President. During the Black Out protest at the UCLA vs. USC basketball game, Robert helped ASU get in contact with Daily Bruin to publicize their cause, and has already worked with ASU staff and UCLA Recreation to explore potential spaces for the Black Resource Center. The ASU demands were a central component to how the organization chose to endorse candidates, and ASU believes that “[Watson] has more understanding of how that’s going to happen.”

More information for Robert Blake Watson’s campaign can be found here.


Millen Srivastava (Independent)

Platforms

  • Create a reproductive justice health center on campus with rape kits, affordable STI testing, and accessible sex education
  • Advocate for more CARE and CAPS funding from the administration
  • Guides on the functional use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), more education and awareness on heart disease prevention
  • Expansion and continuation of the UC Women’s Leadership Conference
  • Start INTERSECT: Womxn’s Connection and Communication Council
  • Create an all-inclusive accessible UCLA YouTube channel
  • Make STEM materials more affordable, create a pre-med/pre-health guidance and career center
  • Further develop Scholarship portal on MyUCLA, advocate for more out-of-state and international student scholarships

Experience

  • UC Women’s Leadership Conference Executive Director
  • Social Media Director for USAC Office of the Internal Vice President
  • Former Affordability Advisor for Financial Supports Commission
  • Director of Public Relations for Sudden Cardiac-death Awareness Foundation
  • Former National Youth US Ambassador for the United Nations
  • Member of UCLA Kappa Delta Sorority

More information for Millen Srivastava’s campaign can be found here.


Furkan Yalcin (Independent)

Goals

  • Get people to vote
  • Highlight his role as a true outsider of USAC

Experience

  • UCLA Radio News Manager
  • UCLA Shenanigans Comedy Club

Internal Vice President

Kimberly “Kim” Bonaficio (For the People)

Platforms

  • Create a Student Advocacy Partnership so that student groups can bring up concerns and issues on campus
  • Provide grassroots organizing training to guide students on how to advocate for themselves and their communities
  • USAC website makeover with updated funding applications, streamlined USAC office staff positions, and an apartment database
  • Re-establish Campus Safety Awareness Week and expand the oversight of Campus Safety Alliance

Experience

  • Samahang Pilipino Retention Coordinator
  • Former Student Activist Project Intern
  • Samahang Pilipino First Year MVP
  • Samahang Teaching Through Experience Program (STEP) Intern

More information of Kimberly Bonaficio’s campaign can be found here.


External Vice President

Johana Guerra (Independent)

Platforms

  • Divest from ICE and prevent them from being allowed on campus
  • Support AFSCME’s demands and provide sanctuary for all
  • Advocate for students’ basic needs: finances, housing, food
  • Implement Deportation Defense Initiative

Experience

  • Active supporter of California Dream Act and Promise Act
  • Has been working with student coalitions such as Student Labor Advocacy Project, Mother Organizations, UC Student Association, and USAC since her first year
  • Advocated for statewide and federal funding for basic needs programs across the UC system for the past year
  • Hosting and leading the upcoming UC Undocumented Student Conference this May

More information on Johana Guerra’s campaign can be found here.


General Representative

Eduardo “Lalo” Velasquez (For the People)

Platforms

  • Advocate for more one-on-one support from the Center of Accessible Education
  • Implementing sensitivity training in CAPS to better support marginalized communities
  • Increase funding of cultural events on campus
  • Waiving study list charges to increase accessibility to low-income students

Experience

  • MEChA De UCLA Raza Youth Conference
  • Academic Peer Counselor in MEChA Calmecac
  • MEChA Internal Vice-Chair

More information on Eduardo Velasquez’s campaign can be found here.


Academic Affairs Commissioner

Naomi Riley (For the People)

Platforms

  • Make Academic Senate a paid position to incentivize it
  • Dismantle SAT requirement
  • Increase book lending time and use of online textbooks
  • Increase late-night study spaces on the Hill and on campus
  • Implement trauma-informed practices for UCLA staff and faculty, mental health awareness initiative, priority enrollment for moms, and more AAC activities on social issues

Experience

  • 2 years in Academic Affairs Commission
  • Academic Advancement Program Peer Counselor
  • Afro-Latinx Connection Executive Board Member
  • Started free i-Clicker program in AAC in 2018

More information for Naomi Riley’s campaign can be found here.

Endorsed by ASU “We understood that USAC is a space that ASU hasn’t had access to,” Josh says. With that in mind, ASU endorsed Riley for her history within ASU, the work she has done to benefit Black Bruins in AAC so far, and her commitment to making USAC more accessible for all students.


Oscar Macias (Independent)

Platforms

  • Basic Needs
  • Equitable admissions
  • Transparency and Accessibility

Experience

  • Chairperson of Student Initiated Outreach Committee
  • Student Activities Center Board of Governors
  • Campaign Manager of Beyond the Score

More information for Oscar Macias’ campaign can be found here.


Campus Events Commissioner

Tara Steinmetz


Community Service Commissioner

Jonathan Wisner (Independent)

Goals

  • Make Community Service Committee (CSC) the hub for all service-minded students through intentional events to bring students is
  • Make CSC a more accessible knowledge center through open office hours and sharing resources
  • Continue building relationships with other entities on campus
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of staff structure and make changes accordingly
  • Bring CSC to the forefront of social change

Experience

  • 2 years of being on CSC staff
  • Worked with Swipe Out Hunger to fight food insecurity
  • Resident Assistant on the Hill

Cultural Affairs Commissioner

Kelechi Iheanacho (For the People)

Platforms

  • Alleviate food insecurity on campus
  • Increase funding resource accessibility
  • Institutionalize anti-blackness training
  • Expand CAC’s Community Fund

Experience

  • 3 years in Cultural Affairs Commission
  • 1 year as CAC Worldfest Director

Endorsed by ASU for representing Black Bruins within USAC and her commitment to using her platform to help fellow Black Bruins on campus. “Representation is important,” Josh says, “It is important that ASU is a space where we support [our] students.”

More information on Kelechi Iheanacho’s campaign can be found here.


Facilities Commissioner

Lily Shaw (Independent)

Platforms

  • Increase accessibility to Facilities Office via streamlined website and weekly office hours
  • Improving lighting, infrastructure, and transportation to ensure student safety
  • Focusing on the infrastructural needs of students with disabilities while creating a sense of community
  • Making use of underutilized spaces of campus for students’ best interest
  • Reduce water waste of campus, implement reusable dining materials, recycle goods through Bruin Bazaar

Experience

  • University Committee on Disability
  • Director of Greater Visibility Project via Facilities Commission

More information for Lily Shaw’s campaign can be found here.


Student Wellness Commissioner

Ty Pearson (Independent)

Platforms

  • Advocating for food justice and addressing food insecurity through community organizing
  • Campus-wide dispensary stations for basic necessities
  • Acknowledge the ways that politics affect students’ health within Student Wellness Committee (SWC)
  • Fight against rising costs of UC SHIP with health insurance fee waivers, subsidies, financial aid, and improved policies
  • Year-long campaign to destigmatize UC SHIP’s resources such as contraceptives and STI medication
  • Implementing Crisis Management and suicide prevention training with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life

Experience

  • Co-Director of SWC BruiNecessities
  • CPO Basic Needs Committee
  • 3 years of health advocacy experience
  • 2 years of experience with UCLA CalFresh Initiative
  • Co-institutionalized menstrual hygiene and basic needs stations across the Hill

More information on Ty Pearson’s campaign can be found here.


Mihika Sridhar (Independent)

Platforms

  • Hold an annual week of culturally-conscious health programming
  • Establish Health Insurance Awareness Day with associated programming, with research-based instructional documentation on local health insurance providers
  • Make Title IX language more accessible to marginalized communities on campus
  • Placing body-positive messaging at various sites on campus such as gyms, restaurants, and libraries

Experience

  • Student Wellness Committee Body Image Task Force
  • Student Wellness Committee RollAIDS AIDS Awareness Campaign
  • Raised awareness of gender-based violence survivors through UCLA Taara dance organization

More information on Mihika Sridhar’s campaign can be found here.


Transfer Student Representative

Isabel Oraha (Independent)

Platforms

  • Improve the structure of Transfer Student Representative (TSR) Office so that it can be passed down easily

Experience

  • TSR Office Director of Outreach and Student Affairs

More information on Isabel Oraha’s campaign can be found here.


International Student Representative

Shahamah Tariq (Independent)

  • Address food and housing insecurity faced by international students
  • Organize international themed events with cultural organizations across campus to raise awareness of different cultures at UCLA
  • Create spaces such as International Town Hall and Culture Night
  • Establish a social media presence for international students
  • Inform international students about professional and academic opportunities at UCLA and post-graduation, such as by raising awareness on OPT/ CPT and on receiving credit for international examinations
  • Strengthen communication between international students and administration to further international student advocacy efforts on campus and at a UC-wide level

Experience

  • Pakistani Students Association Director of Social Affairs
  • International Scholarship Director at USAC General Representative 1
  • New Student Advisor at New Student & Transition Programs

More information on Shahamah Tariq’s campaign can be found here.