Face off for A.S. elections
The Associated Students' Board of Directors will be determined this Thursday, April 7, with candidates going so far as offering free ice cream in exchange for votes. Students running for the 13 different positions are representatives from two different slates, the Unison Party (UP) and Students United (SU).
For presidential candidates David Stavis (UP) and Harrison Wills (SU), winning the elections will result in representing the students' interests, coordinating clubs, student activities, and overseeing the $1.2 million A.S budget.
"Everyone should be involved and have a say in what is happening with our school. We need the right representatives in order to bring forward students' wants and needs," said Santa Monica College student Terese Amgren.
"I wanted to do something and be involved. This is the first time I am voting," biology major Jennifer Ozoemena said. While reading through the list of candidates and pointing out who she voted for, Ozoemena points out that it was Student Outreach candidate Cameron Espinoza's (UP) secure persuasion technique that made her decide on what candidate to choose.
Espinoza says that she and the rest of UP are discontent with current student government. She wants to see change, and says that SMC needs to be more of a community. "Not just a place for homework, but you should be able to come here and be with your friends and go to events," said Espinoza.
"I consider myself an activist," said Jasmine Delgado, 18 and vice presidential candidate (SU), as she was encouraging students to vote outside of the A.S computer lab just as the online voting opened up. Delgado is a political science major who currently serves as commissioner for the sitting vice president. "I saw how apathetic students are with their government and it made me upset. A lot of people are misinformed or unaware of what we do, and students are not represented properly, which is our job as student government."
Delgado believes that the experience she has gained as vice president commissioner will help her if she gets elected. She runs as a part of the Students United slate, but points out that the two sides have similar views and goals.
This is reflected in the campaigns where candidates from both slates present similar ideas and accomplishments. "One side is not going to triumph over the other," said Tarrin Andrews, candidate for director of activities for the Unison Party.
According to Andrews, a sociology and political science major, the reason for him to run is the lack of activities on campus. He feels there is little being done for students to get to know one another. "If I tell you that you are going to have a good time and you show up and you meet some really cool people, then you care more of the well-being of these cool people," said Andrews. "Then you will be involved and if more people are involved we can affect and impact our surrounding. "
The voting period lasts from Tuesday April 4 to Thursday April 7.
David Stavis, 20, is an anthropology major who feels like he has perspective of what a functioning school should be like. "The school deserves more confidence for itself; I have seen the alternative," said Stavis. After studying game design in Japan and New York, Stavis appreciates Santa Monica College and the knowledge and capabilities shared by SMC students and faculty.
This is Stavis' third semester at SMC. He is the current Inter Club Council vice chair. He feels that his studies in anthropology have increased his abilities to understand human behavior with its capabilities and weaknesses.
He feels that, as in game design, politics is a way of making systems work. A system should encourage people to improve, succeed, feel good, and always gives the player an opportunity to win. "Currently, SMC is a broken game," said Stavis. "It's a game nobody wants to play. They check in and drop out, plug in and turn out."
Partly due to frustration about irresponsible representatives, Stavis became involved with student government and became the ICC representative for his game design club. "The system was so bad it kept the club from being good," he says. "We never got to use any of our funding; we wanted to do things all the time but it took three weeks to get things approved."
Stavis later took the position as ICC vice chair, and he remembers the excitement for the first board meeting and how happily surprised he was when he realized that the people around him were good people. "I think I am a part of this good thing that can really help people," he said.
"I watched and learned how things can get done, and I learned how to reform the system when there is something that's in your way. There's always a back-up plan, a way for me to change it," said Stavis of his experience as ICC vice chair.
He believes that experience and knowledge of the bureaucracy is crucial for the new Board of Directors in order to make any progress, and points out the importance of knowing the history of what has been done in order to know what to do next.
"There is no one to tell you how to work the job; it's sink or swim. It all comes from you and the environment and people around you," he said. "If you need to have training wheels on, you will never get things done."
With a realistic agenda and clear goals of improvement of the student government, Stavis has already danced with the system so much that the movements now come naturally.
Stavis is confident that his slate, the Unison Party, has found the perfect people for the right positions. "I didn't want to leave it up to chance that the person would be honest and have integrity and be willing to work hard for other people", said Stavis.
"Next year is going to be a blast. We are already a team. When we have fun doing the work and meeting people, it gets done," he said.
Running for president with the Students United slate is Harrison Wills, 26, International development major and environmental activist. "What I love most about SMC is the fact that it is so diverse," said Wills. "Education is more than just your professors; it is also the type of students you interact with, and diversity is true here. Not just skin color, it's from all over the world of all ages. It adds so much to the educational experience. I feel like I am backpacking every day."
Wills, who has lived in Santa Monica for ten years, says that he has much knowledge of the community. What he thinks are amazing environmental programs and partnerships with environmental agencies were both big reasons for him to enroll at SMC.
This is Wills' second semester at SMC, and he is currently commissioner for the Director of Sustainability. "I was going to run for director [of sustainability] at first," Wills explained, but after being selected to attend the FACCC advocacy conference in Sacramento, he wanted to become more involved. "I received great encouragement from SMC professors that were at the conference," said Wills.
Wills made his decision to run for president, largely due to one of his professors. "My friends were really encouraging too, but the one I want to credit is Professor Guido Del Piccollo. He told me: ‘You can protest, or you can put on a suit and make policy,'" said Wills.
"When sociology opened up my eyes to a wide range of social problems, it also showed that many of the best solutions came in the form of policy," said Wills.
Wills wants to focus on sustainable activism, which is creating solutions for the future because, "We are not just victims of policy, but pa rticipants."
Making the American dream a reality is something Wills is eager to help students with. "I want to promote the scholar's program to international students, and I would really like to have the opportunity to help less fortunate students who come here from less developed countries unaware of a program such as this."
"The agenda is students' right, environmental justice, equity and equality," Wills said and ensures that he is committed to fight for students' rights.
Wills believes in the capabilities of the Students United slate. "We are doers, we'd rather do then talk about it. It is not like we are going to be politically active, we already are, and we are going to continue to be."
Complete biographies and more information can be found at smc.edu/associated_students. The results will be presented on Friday.