Student government leaders must be defined by their dynamism. On the one hand, they must act as administrators, curating and developing the larger institution to work toward various measures; on the other, they must remain activists — as grassroots and impassioned as those without an office or title, fighting equally as hard, cognizant of the same stakes. Above all, they must be able to work on behalf of the large and diverse student voice. They must seek to produce the change that is so often necessary, and yet so rarely easy to achieve.
Undergraduate Student Government presidential candidate Mai Mizuno and her running mate Brianna Bozek share a vision that prioritizes tangible, concrete action to improve student life, while acknowledging the needs of the local community. Their 37 platform points comprise a litany of progressive measures including community, diversity, expansion of resources and, above all, an eye on the needs of largely forgotten student groups. After interviews, extensive research and analysis of the specifics of the impressive records of service of this year’s candidates, the Daily Trojan has decided to endorse Mizuno and Bozek to serve as next year’s USG president and vice president.
The Editorial Board was particularly impressed by Mizuno’s passion-driven track record, and her on-the-ground style of activism and engagement emphasizing underrepresented voices and diverse student needs. Her work to expand resources for lower-income and food and housing-insecure students by partnering with the Electronic Benefits Transfer and CalFresh programs was a successful example of the manners in which student government can significantly and directly impact student experiences.
The Mai & Brianna ticket has emphasized sexual assault prevention and expanded resources for survivors; greater diversity and representation within USG; direct collaboration with cultural assemblies; expanded access to mental and reproductive health resources; and improved resources for students to understand and manage tuition. If Mizuno applies the same efficacy, compassion and innovation to these projects as her EBT/CalFresh success, it seems certain the campus will see positive change.
The two presidential tickets share many of the same platform points. However, as the records of previous presidential administrations demonstrate, vision alone will not translate to change. It matters that the Mai & Brianna ticket boasts a record of accomplishments in student government, strong relationships with key campus leaders and experience impacting change alongside an administration that so often remains unwilling to address student need. Mizuno and Bozek are not only the ticket with the right vision, but also the advocates with the strength and clout to see their vision to fruition.
With a platform thoughtfully separated into short-term and long-term goals, the Mai & Brianna ticket knows the limits of what can be accomplished in a single year. However, they remain undaunted by perceived limits, and speak confidently about their plan to achieve long-term goals by extending their passion and activism into training and mentorship to guide future generations of leadership. They express a readiness to finish projects which began in previous administrations, and set the frameworks for future administrations to finish long-term goals of their own.
Mizuno’s nearly three-year record in student government is a reflection of her ability to guide projects to the finish line. In the process of implementing her program to address food insecurity, Mizuno researched and communicated with vendors around a two-mile radius of the University Park campus to convince providers to accept food stamps, keeping record of participating institutions to communicate location information with students in need via a free, widely accessible online map.
She has collaborated with administrators to expand gender-neutral housing options, and was instrumental in planning and presenting a USG bill to provide free menstrual products in central on-campus restrooms.
Personal experiences also guide crucial components of Bozek’s focus, having formerly worked as a campus tour guide and the Panhellenic Council Vice President of Service and Philanthropy. She has said her own struggles with the Engemann Health Center’s limited mental health resources have made expanding access to these services a priority of the ticket and personal passion of hers.
But a particular interest of the Mai & Brianna ticket is advocacy with regard to yearly tuition hikes. Mizuno is bravely open about her family’s struggles in the face of a tuition hike in her freshman year, and how this experience drove her to grassroots activism. The Mai & Brianna ticket is intent on demanding transparency from the administration, especially where their annual budget report is concerned. Written in unnecessarily complex financial jargon often to obfuscate the most crucial data, these reports seem to be purposefully indecipherable to those without a background in finance.
Mizuno and Bozek plan to enlist those with competency in the language to release a simplified and digestible version of the report, in addition to implementing and raising awareness about free financial literacy courses for students seeking to take greater control over their financial futures. Most importantly, they are committed to demanding a tuition freeze from the University — a much-needed, long-awaited change.
The needs of student groups without significant financial clout or numerical representation too often fall by the wayside. We are, more often than not, expected to conform to newly-imposed realities such as tuition hikes and condensed resources rather than forge a path that meets our needs. But Mai & Brianna are the ticket that remains undaunted by challenges and armed with the most valuable experience; the Daily Trojan recommends that we, with the power of our collective voice, entrust Mizuno and Bozek to spearhead the way toward that future.
Daily Trojan spring 2018 Editorial Board