COMMENTARY: Students should vote for Rutgers United in this election
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, one of the major lessons you learn is to care for your community. If a neighbor down the street could not afford their bills, the entire barrio pitched in to help them out.
This idea is what I want to bring to the student government on campus. My name is Vlad Carrasco, and I am running to be the first Latino Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) president.
For too long we have had student leaders who claim to want to accomplish lofty goals and pledge their support for students, but each year we are disappointed with inaction.
We must hold our student government accountable. It should be a place where the student voice is prompted forward, yet this year it was stifled. During a town hall with University President Robert L. Barchi, student activists were forced to sit in a corner and were prohibited from asking questions. It was sanctioned by the executive board of which 3 of the 4 presidential candidates are members. The same candidates that preach to represent students also voted against opening up the RUSA elections to all students. Members of the One Rutgers ticket went further to say that the student body is not smart enough to be able to have a say in how accessible the representative body should be. The president of the One Rutgers ticket was protested against by UndocuRutgers, because she failed to properly represent them. This is a group of people with a history of ignoring the student voice.
We must do away with the hypocrisy that presents itself when these candidates vow to end sexual violence. For example, the One Rutgers ticket says it will work to end sexual violence but in reality, its vice president, Jaidev Phadke, voted against bystander-intervention training for student leaders. The hypocrisy extends to the uKnighted ticket whose vice president is part of the Sigma Chi fraternity, which was dismissed from campus after allegations of drugging members of a sorority on campus. These candidates have failed to stand up to sexual violence and expect the student body to believe they will work against it.
The Unscrew RU ticket has the worst attendance record of all the teams running. How can we expect these individuals to represent the student body when they are not event present at the meetings? This is the same ticket that falsified the endorsement of Rutgers Circle K in these elections.
It is so important to hold these candidates accountable, so we may truly progress to a student government composed of individuals who are serious about their position and the issues.
Rutgers United is the team that is taking this election and these positions very seriously. We will challenge the status quo and build a student government that truly represents Rutgers. Eighty-five percent of the individuals on our team identify as minorities. We represent more than 50 different student organizations.
My team is providing a list of feasible policy points based on consultations with student groups. We will work to end sexual violence, end mental health stigmas and promote diversity and inclusion. Compared to other tickets running we are the only team with a record of working on these issues.
I have worked through SCREAM Theater to spread awareness and education on the issues of interpersonal violence. My vice president, Jessica Resnick, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is a trained crisis advocate that volunteers to serve the Rutgers community members that experience any form of violence. Resnick and I are part of Rutgers NO MORE where we work to spread awareness about sexual violence. We have worked to create a community of active bystanders. We successfully changed University policy to be survivor centered. We worked to expand mental health services in the athletic community, through the work of our Representative Karysa Swackenberg, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
We worked to promote diversity and inclusion through a variety of ways. Resnick has focused on an intersectional approach to end sexual violence by partnering with a variety of cultural organizations to educate on the issue.
I have worked with the Cultural Competence Coalition to diversify our core curriculum with a focus on creating a more inclusive and tolerant community.
Through the Latino Student Council and UndocuRutgers, we have been able to fight for the 500 DREAMers that attend our school.
We marched with Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops and Rutgers One to fight for student workers and challenge the unconstitutional protest policy.
I am a candidate of action, and I have built of team of diverse and passionate student leaders that will deliver a vision of progress. We believe in the power of unity, and that begins with accessibility. Let us come together with a student government of the people and for the people.
Rutgers United is a team that will work to empower and unite the student body. If you believe in the power of our unity, the join this movement. Vote at RutgersUnited.com.
Vlad Carrasco is a School of Arts and Sciences junior. He is the RUSA presidential candidate for the Rutgers United ticket.