A presidential feature article printed Monday portrayed DeeJay Pepito — my colleague and an essential part of our senate — as an “aggressive” woman with a mission to propel “minority” groups into the ASUC. I found the article poorly written and contextualized, especially given the amount of times I was in contact with the writer to provide sufficient material for the feature. What is even more interesting to me is that this article reflects the general attitude of the public toward women in politics or in positions of power, and unfortunately this is an ideology that The Daily Californian bought into and left unchallenged.
Entry points for women of color in politics are very few and far between. It is difficult to access institutional resources and pipelines that promote us to positions of influence in which we can make tangible change. We are unlikely to be seen by those in power as worthy of respect. Sometimes, like in Monday’s Daily Cal article, we are criticized if we do not behave the way that the public expects women to act. While men are praised for being assertive, we are called aggressive — and this follows us into the professional and political field. The ASUC should be a place that all students can access, but as a current ASUC senator, I understand that this is not always the case. I’m currently the only female chair of a committee in which men outnumber women five to two. In the senate at large, women take up only six seats out of our 20-member class. You can’t ignore these statistics or their impact on how we are viewed and treated within our communities or the campus at large.
As a woman of color attempting to represent my community and also the rest of the campus, I was personally offended by this portrayal. It misrepresents my work and the work of powerful women in politics working to make change. DeeJay was completely misrepresented in comparison to the white men she is running against for president.
While Jason Bellet and Rafi Lurie are amazing individuals with a lot to offer, their articles have nothing to do with their backgrounds or a “rags to riches” mentality that implies that their work is limited to minorities or communities of color. DeeJay has a solid understanding of these issues, but that is not all that she has to offer. I worry that students might think, because of this portrayal, that DeeJay does not represent them.
DeeJay is running to make sure students can access our chancellor and administration, and that we feel safe on our campus. She is committed to campus safety and combating sexual assault. These platforms clearly don’t only affect students of color, women or women of color. They affect our campus community at large — and while DeeJay as a candidate may break some electoral traditions, it’s time that someone challenged the status quo to support all students at UC Berkeley.
It is time that the Daily Cal stopped perpetuating an ideology that women in politics are underdogs or that they only provide a limited scope of experience and representation in comparison to other candidates. I’ve known DeeJay since before she even considered running for president, and as a personal friend and colleague, I know that she would do an astounding job representing every community on this campus.
— Sadia Saifuddin,
Independent ASUC senator