Lesure elected ASOC president, positions left uncontested and unfilled

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A poster at the Johnson Student Center exhorts students to vote in ASOC election at Occidental College in Los Angeles Feb. 16, 2018. Margaret Su/The Occidental

The Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) election ballot for leadership positions opened April 16. Poppy Thekdi (junior), ASOC elections director, posted election results April 20 via email to the student body. Students elected Jacques Lesure (junior) for ASOC President, Micol Garinkol (junior) for Vice President of Financial Affairs, Wafa Abedin (first year) for Vice President of Internal Affairs, Paul Charbonneau (junior) for Vice President of Academic Affairs and Jordan Walker (first year) Vice for President of External Affairs.

Mia Smutney (junior), Phillip Wong (sophomore), Dejah Williams (junior) and Lauren Di Lella (first year) won candidacies for Honor Board. Darla Chavez (first year) will be the sophomore class senator and Annis Roberts (junior) as well as Tony Romero (junior) are the new senior class senators for the 2018–2019 school year.

While each of those positions were contested by two or more candidates, the positions of vice president of internal affairs, vice president of external affairs and one sophomore class senator went uncontested. Both junior class senator positions, one sophomore class senator position and one Honor Board position went unfilled, according to ASOC Advisor Tamara Himmelstein.

Himmelstein said that although these positions remain unfilled at the moment, students will be able to run for and elect candidates to them in the Fall of 2018, when first year senators will also be running for office.

EvaMarie David (junior) and Lesure campaigned for ASOC president to replace current President Zach Solomon (senior). According to David, her experience as both a first year and junior class senator made her stand out as a candidate.

“I couldn’t leave this institution without at least trying to leave my footprint, and leaving a positive one, because of so many of the injustices I have seen,” David said. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a black woman as ASOC President, but I also do realize that in my position and with the caliber of experiences I’ve had with student government already just at Occidental, I could make palpable change.”

David’s counterpart for this election, Lesure, ran on a platform of shared governance, according to an email sent to the entire student body April 15 containing each candidate’s platforms. Shared governance is a system that would involve students and administration collaboratively working to govern the campus, according to Lesure.

“I believe that there needs to be a shift in approach and tone when it comes to the stances we take as ASOC,” Lesure said. “So much exciting stuff is happening across campus. There are so many different pockets of campus organizing and gaining momentum. ASOC Senate should provide a stable foundation for these individuals and groups to gain momentum.”

Lesure said that while achieving shared governance will be no easy task, he has plans to implement programs that would test the idea.

“I plan to implement a year-long agenda in which we explore the possibility of shared governance,” Lesure said. “This agenda will include informational workshops, speaker series, working sessions and other creative programming to build a campus-wide discourse around shared governance.”

The vice president of academic affairs position was also contested — Amy Kang (first year), Olivia Shinners (first year) and Charbonneau all ran for the position. According to Charbonneau, who previously served as the ASOC president during the 2016–2017 school year, one of the main responsibilities of the vice president of academic affairs is to communicate with the dean of the college and work with professors in addition to overseeing the textbook reserve program.

“I love our professors, I think students should absolutely have a say in decision-making regarding our academia, the textbook reserve program is something that makes a very tangible difference, so this role is just a natural fit,” Charbonneau said.

According to Kang, she also aimed to improve the textbook reserve program. However, she was more focused on making sure it is visible to every student on campus.

“As a first year, and with experiences with my first year friends, a lot of people aren’t really aware that we have such a program and you can get a lot of benefits out of it,” Kang said. “If you don’t have the means to pay for textbooks or anything like that it’s a really good program that we have here to utilize.”

Shinners said that she coordinated her election effort with vice president of internal affairs candidate Abedin and vice president of external affairs candidate Walker.

“We already knew that the three of us worked really well together,” Shinners said. “I personally have student government experience in high school and wanted to run because now that we’ve been at Occidental for a while and have become more acclimated with the campus and how its ran, I want to play a more integral role in dealing with that.”

According to Himmelstein, running on a ticket with other candidates can help candidates gain visibility and get elected.

“Tickets can definitely be successful where two candidates pair up and they kind of come across as a team and so then they both get elected, that’s been successful in the past,” Himmelstein said.

Ryan Zhu (junior), Garinkol and William Sheerin (junior) each ran for the vice president of financial affairs position. According to Zhu, his experience helped him stand out from other candidates.

“I have some experience in [the] board of trustees budget finance committee which is definitely related to the financial affairs of student government,” Zhu said. “My previous experience helped me with my decision [to run].”

Garinkol, who currently serves as the ASOC vice president of external affairs, said that she considered running for the position earlier, but wanted to have more knowledge and experience about ASOC’s finances before doing so.

“I feel confident that I will be able to work within ASOC’s budget and expend student body fees responsibly, while still maintaining flexibility so that students can have as much of a voice as possible in the process,” Garinkol said. “I stand out from other candidates because when other people see scarcity in our budget, I see opportunity for innovation.”