SUA elections will take place from May 15 to May 22, and currently enrolled UCSC students will be able to access ballots virtually through the elections website here.
The current SUA positions up for vote are President, Vice President for Internal Affairs (VPIA), Vice President for External Affairs (VPEA), Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), Vice President for Student Life (VPSL), and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion (VPDI).
City on a Hill Press (CHP) asked SUA candidates questions you want to know the answers to: why they chose to run, what their priorities are, how they plan to enact change, and what they would adjust about how the current SUA operates.
CHP has fact-checked each statement and noted factual inaccuracies.
SUA Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA)
The Vice President for Academic Affairs is the main contact between the student body, faculty, and administration regarding academics. They sit on the Education Policy Committee for the Student Academic Senate, meeting twice quarterly to hear student concerns about academic policy.
The candidates running are Jamie Nelson Hindery and Stephanie Sanchez Toscano.
Jamie Nelson Hindery
Jamie Nelson Hindery cites their background as a 27-year-old transfer student to advocate for the academic needs of non-traditional students.
As the Student Representative on the Committee on Educational Policy and Co-Chair of the Student Academic Senate, Hindery worked alongside incumbent Dora Rasch.
In an email to City on a Hill Press, Hindery said that they were encouraged to run by friends who are current SUA officers – not in their official capacities – “because they thought it would be in the students’ interest, not because we would then work together.”
Hindery also served as a campaign manager for 2020 Palo Alto City Council candidate Steven Lee.
Stephanie Sanchez Toscano
Stephanie Sanchez Toscano is a member of MEChA and ChALE. She plans to focus on creating more scholarships, advocating for more academic advisors, and increasing resources for low-income students transitioning from high school to college. Sanchez Toscano stresses that she’s here for the students, not administration.
“I saw the disconnect that there was [between] the SUA and the student body, and there’s something that has to change,” Sanchez Toscano said. “And that’s one of the main reasons for changing because students’ voices are not actually being heard right now.”
SUA Vice President for Student Life (VPSL)
The VPSL is responsible for communicating between the SUA and various student organizations. They also coordinate student events throughout the year and strive to improve the student experience.
The candidates running are Alicia Anyanwu, Jesus Medina, and Akira Swan.
Alicia Anyanwu is the African Black Caribbean (ABC) Representative for the BSU. She wants to incorporate the student body back into SUA and bring light to their resources which are not utilized to their fullest potential, such as the food pantry.
“My first year here, I felt like I didn’t belong, and this campus wasn’t doing anything to make me feel like I belonged,” Anyanwu said. “It made me feel like it was my fault, but I came to realize that it’s not my fault, but the school’s fault and administration.”
Jesus Medina is currently part of the VPSL’s office through the Student Advocates Office as a caseworker. He wants students to be more informed about the SUA, and plans to do outreach to students about their perspectives on the SUA.
“I want to have consistency with the food pantry, and then have an approval of our budget to increase housing crisis support,” Medina said. “Our Student Advocates Office does have funds, but I want to have more of a way to help students and share the resources that we have to offer.”
Akira Swan is currently the SUA representative for Stevenson Student Council. She plans to make SUA a space where students can gather and communicate about campus culture. Swan wants to foster school spirit by having students engage more in their college themes.
“[I want to] find a balance between having fun events that are also engaging for students, as well as creating more accessibility to resources on campus and financial support for students who need it,” Swan said. “We’re all just building equity, and also getting students more engaged through fun events that are also entertaining and can build community.”
SUA Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion (VPDI)
The VPDI communicates with the campus’ resource centers, outreach, and retention programs, and Educational Opportunities Program (EOP). Their responsibilities include chairing the Diversity Commission and communicating with offices that handle Title IX hate/bias reports.
The sole candidate running is Leslie Marquez.
Leslie Marquez is the Ourstorian for MEChA, editor and designer of TWANAS, and Program Coordinator for engaging education (e2). Marquez wants to uplift student-run organizations and create a sense of community among students of different backgrounds. She plans to hold administration accountable on accessibly serving their students.
“At the end of the day, if this is our student government, they should be representing the students, our backgrounds and our identities and where we come from, and have that immediate connection with who they are serving,” Marquez said.
More City on a Hill Press coverage, as well as voter resources and information, on this year’s campus elections can be found here.