External Affairs Vice President 

 
raj.JPG
 

PLATFORMS  

          I am excited to announce my candidacy to serve as your next External Affairs Vice President* of the ASUC. In this role, I intend to set forth a vision for the EAVP office that empowers students to advocate on behalf of their own experiences, tackles the most pressing issues facing the students of this university, and honors the diversity and legacy of our incredible student body. My first set of platforms are directly inspired by the reasons that propelled me to join the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office* three years ago and by my passion for ensuring that finances are never a barrier to higher education. My second set of platforms is focused on issues of basic needs insecurity–issues that I have had the privilege and experience of attempting to tackle, with an ultimate goal of elevating conversations about basic needs insecurity to a community-centered level. My final set of platforms are meant to push our university and push our state to be the leaders that they claim they are. We are not defined by our country, nor are we defined by our politics. We are defined instead by an unwavering commitment to justice, and a student population that will fight for what is right. These three platforms are are not exhaustive in naming the problems that this university faces and what I intend to accomplish. Instead, they are starting points for conversations around student mental health, student success, student rights, and a promise that the ASUC exists to represent and advocate for the students of UC Berkeley.

 

  1. As EAVP, I intend to use the in-depth knowledge of financial aid and tuition policy I gained as a Financial Aid caseworker* in the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office* to inform and advocate for more equitable financial aid and tuition policies.

    1. My first solution is to develop and structure the university’s response to a cut in federal funding as well as develop a protocol for similar situations in the future. Programs like the Pell Grant and funding for Title VI and Title IX are what enable thousands of students to attend and thrive at our school, and it is essential that we as a university are prepared to deal with potential threats to these, and other, programs. I plan to collaborate with UCOP and the state to ensure that cuts in federal programs and funding are managed so as to support the most vulnerable populations on UC campuses.

    2. Just as important as supporting students while on campus is providing the resources to enable students to apply to and enroll on campus. As California explores making college free and San Francisco has promised to provide free community college for its residents, a practical solution to ensuring that students have equal opportunity to participate in our campus is to provide fee waivers for free applications to UC schools for low-income California community college students as well as formerly incarcerated California residents. This could provide great benefit to the UC system by increasing the amount of qualified in-state applicants, strengthen Berkeley’s leadership in creating a prison-to-school pipeline, and, most importantly, provide a greater opportunity for students to access Californian higher education.

    3. Financial aid policy is often complicated and the impact of decisions made in Sacramento on individual students is often hard to predict and understand. I plan on building relationships with the California Student Aid Commission as well as other entities, and ensuring that policies being implemented and projects being pursued are informed by real student experiences. An example of such a policy I intend on changing is ensuring that students with disabilities or medical conditions that require them to take less than a full courseload do not face a reduction in their Cal Grant award for doing so.

  2. Students come to Berkeley expecting stability and a community that can help them in times of greatest need, and as EAVP I intend to facilitate community-oriented solutions to basic needs, and especially housing, insecurity.

    1. Projects to alleviate student homelessness and housing insecurity have thus far been student-led, and I intend on expanding and institutionalizing these efforts. I would like to collaborate with local hotels and shelters in order to provide immediate emergency housing to students who are in desperate and unexpected need. I also intend on working with the city and with property owners associations to create partnerships that will allow the university to place students in housing owned by members of the Berkeley community. Solutions may at times have to be legislative, such as potentially working on an ordinance requiring new student apartment buildings to set aside a certain amount of rooms for emergency response.

    2. Secondly, I would like to push conversations around housing insecurity to the forefront of UCOP and shift the focus of the coordinated efforts of the UC system from food insecurity to a more holistic understanding of basic needs insecurity. Doing so will require not only understanding data and first-hand experiences, but it will also require leveraging the UCSA network to organize students around this particular issue. Furthermore, I believe that engaging in these conversations provides an opportunity to unify a strategy for placing students at UCs where the capacity for them to thrive exists, rather than where the state demands.

    3. On a more long-term timeline, I believe that any long-term response to the current housing crisis necessarily requires the construction of new beds and should be done in concert with different stakeholders in the local community. New developments can create a very real risk to the community and further marginalize non-student populations, but I intend to ensure that any strategy that the university pursues benefits both students and the Berkeley community.

  3. Berkeley has a storied history of commitment to social justice, and as EAVP I intend to further that legacy and hold our campus and our state accountable by ensuring student representation and advocacy in this period of extreme volatility.

    1. Setting the groundwork for future collaboration efforts, I intend to develop relationships with legal advocacy organizations such as the ACLU and the East Bay Community Law Center and create a framework by which students will have direct and immediate access to legal representation in times of violation of constitutional and civil liberties. I also plan on having the state codify its commitment not to have the National Guard cooperate with ICE as well as inform the specific practices of and hold the UC system accountable to its recent Statement of Principles for students and workers alike.

    2. Finally, I intend to have the office of the EAVP fulfill its obligation to represent and advocate on behalf of all students on an external platform. The ASUC cannot claim to be representative and serve the student body if it ignores certain communities and fails to address the most pressing issues facing this campus. I plan on prioritizing the recruitment of diverse and less visible viewpoints, ensuring that these populations are represented on Berkeley’s delegations to the UCSA, state, and national levels, and relentlessly fighting to solve the issues facing these communities.

QUALIFICATIONS

External Chief of Staff* (2016 - 2017)
ASUC Student Advocate’s Office

Financial Aid Caseworker* (2014 - 2016)
ASUC Student Advocate’s Office

Student Representative* (2015 - Present)
Basic Needs Security Committee

Board Member* (2016 - Present)
Stiles Hall Board of Directors

Resident Assistant* (2015)
Summer Bridge

Co-Chair* (2016 - Present)
Basic Needs Coalition

ASUC Representative* (2016 - Present)
Coordination Board for Undergraduate Admissions,
Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management

ASUC Representative* (2016 - Present)
University Partnership Program Advisory Committee

University Partnership Program Advisory Committee (2016 - Present)
Associated Students of University of California

Member* (2015 - 2016)
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Advisory Committee

 *Titles for identification purposes only

Member* (2014 - 2016)
University of California Office of the President Sexual
Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force Working Group

ASUC Policy Representative* (2015 - 2016)
Coordinated Community Review Team

ASUC Representative* (2016 - Present)
University Partnership Program Apparel Consolidation
Working Group

ASUC Representative* (2015 - 2016)
University Partnership Program Banking Consolidation
Working Group

Co-President* (2014 - 2015)
Priestley & Ida Sproul Hall Association

Member* (2016 - Present)
Berkeley Consulting

Programming Committee Member* (2014 - 2016)
The Berkeley Forum

International Committee Member* (2014 - 2015)
Cal Rotaract