For the students who are surviving this institution, before we are able to thrive
My politics are centered on the survival of my people, on and off the campus of UC Berkeley. It
is with the acknowledgement that our university is founded on colonized land and on the backs
of those whose labor is prioritized over the retention of their children, that I enter into the race
for ASUC Senate.
The following principles that I intend to hold at the core of my campaign and tenure as senator
are based on my perspective that the University of California, Berkeley is failing to prioritize the
retention of its most marginalized students. While it is black, brown, indigenous, queer,
transgender, intersex, poor, housing and food insecure, disabled, im/migrant, undocumented
students who are valued for diversity satisfaction, it is these (our) communities who are most
silenced when demanding of institutional change.
Yet, it is our people who have the most to say. Are you ready?
Housing– At the start of my freshman year of high school, my parents’ unemployment found
our family homeless, motel-hopping throughout southern California. Having spent six years
living out of baskets, cars and motel rooms, my value on education was cemented. However, it
has been housing and food insecurity that has threatened my academic success time in and time
Housing and food insecurity is what threatens students on our campus every day.
Throughout my time in office, I intend to continue my work with the Homeless Students Union,
as well as the Basic Needs Coalition, battling our anti-poverty campus climate. My office will
lead the ASUC in efforts to collect campus-specific data that can shift our housing crisis once
paired with institutional reform. I intend on placing students over profit, advocating for
additional real estate projects, stabilizing housing costs, and supporting the Berkeley co-op
system in regrounding itself in its original goals of providing subsidized housing for the most
marginalized of students.
In order to deconstruct anti-poverty stigma, my office will spearhead campus-wide education
campaigns that break down the reality of housing insecurity, allowing the stories of those at the
margins to put faces to the issue. We will cooperate with next year’s ASUC Chief
Communications Officer to make these narratives and resources as accessible to all students as
possible. I will use my own experiences to drive the ASUC in continuing emergency resources
for students experiencing housing insecurity, through prioritizing the work of basic needs
organizations on campus and throughout the city. This includes being vocal about protecting the
agency housing insecure folks deserve, protecting important spaces like People’s Park and
reminding administration that before students can excel, we need to be housing secure.
Mental health- My personal dedication to mental health is rooted in the painful histories of our
people and our community’s lack of mental health. From my parents’ substance abuse to the
multiple friends who’ve died by suicide to my own mental health, my experiences in grassroots
organizing have been focused to center the hypervisible and proactive systems of support
Actions that I believe will further the work of mental health on our campus include holding space
for students balancing academia with pain. This means elevating the supportive work found at
TANG and encouraging expansion of support groups and one-on-one therapy. Too many of our
campus’ existing mental health resources go severely underutilized. Expanding the work on
campus also means holding campus-wide conversations through workshops, townhalls and
lectures on the importance of prioritizing ourselves, especially in this political climate.
In my experience, this university has hardly encouraged our people to truly prioritize the
preservation of our hearts, bodies and minds over its graduation rates. Before we are students, we
are people, worthy of healthy lives.
Safety- I believe that the higher education system is a dangerous place for the existences of
many students. From physical to mental agency, this university was not built, nor is it run, to
preserve the lives of our people at the margins. There is a growing list of actions I intend on
taking to work towards to overall safety of our campus community:
1. Prioritizing transgender students- my office, in partnership with the Tang Center, will
spearhead a plan of action to ensure the protection of identities, chosen names, and
pronouns during student interaction with medical professionals. Transgender students
should not fear being misgendered and/or dead-named by an institution serving us.
2. Prioritizing black and brown students- my office will work to reenvision the necessary
presence of UCPD on campus, at campus-sponsored events, and within campus-affiliated
residences. I hold the intention of limiting the presence of a symbol that has historically
been a vessel of oppression, with the revisioning of what police presence looks like today
as an eventual goal. This includes the intention to reshaping the use of Nixle emergency
alerts, understanding that the campus-wide reports have held potential to cause racialized
and transphobic violence while being minimally effective in improving safety. Safety is
able to come from within the community and I intend on initiating continuous workshops
and sessions on community accountability, dealing with mental health, dissecting
situations without police, etc.
3. Prioritizing undocumented students- my office will be intentional in taken every step,
crossing every line, holding each administrator and official accountable, in proactive
efforts to keep ICE off the Berkeley campus. I will leverage every institutional
connection I gain as an ASUC Senator towards supporting the protection and retention of
undocumented students, and their families. This also includes supporting networks of
support systems that are built to protect students in crisis, emergency situations.
I do not believe that this university, nor this nation, is wholeheartedly dedicated to the retention
and success of its most marginalized communities. In the semester and a half I’ve experienced
existing on this campus, I know that the power of so many students is caged by the socially
constructed obstacles we must hop through to simply survive UC Berkeley, versus thrive.
Through my experience on the #fight4spaces campaign, I have seen how the ASUC can be an
obstacle to progress, but I have also witnessed myself how much good can be done for our
students with the right people inside.
While I began this writing claiming my politics are simply centered on the survival of my
people, I intend to dedicate my time in office on this campus to pushing our communities past
the point of survival, and into the realm of thriving at the University of California, Berkeley.
They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds. -Mexican Proverb
National Trans Youth Organizer, Transgender Law Center (2014-Present)
Student Homelessness Staffer, ASUC Office of Senator Yamas (2016-Present)
Member of Homeless Student Union (2016-Present)
Member of Basic Needs Coalition (2016-Present)
Resident of UNITY Queer/Trans Housing (2016-Present)
Former Statewide Trustee for the California Community Colleges (2015-2016)
Former Citrus College Student Trustee (2015-2016)
Former Citrus College Associated Students Commission of Equity (2014-2016)
Former Co-Chair of Advisory Board, Trevor Project (2014-2016)
Former Member of Advisory Board, Campus Pride (2014-2016)
Zaynab AbdulQadir, ASUC Senator/Wellness Fun Committee Co-chair*
Rigel Robinson, ASUC Senator*
Rosa Kwak, ASUC Senator*
Benyamin Yosuf, ASUC Senator*
Alyssa Yue, ASUC Senator*
Jenny Kim, ASUC Senator*
Jerry Javier, QARC Director*
Pan Narez-Mendez, Facilitator of QTPOC Collective*
Sergio Leon, SHEP Clinic & Outreach Lead*
Kelly Archer, Facilitator of Cal Basic Needs Coalition*
Michael Lepage, President of Sigma Epsilon Omega*
Dahlia Salem, Former President, Student Senate of CA Community Colleges*
*Titles for identification purposes only