UC Berkeley sophomores Henna Kaushal and Marium Navid announced Thursday night that they will be running as independent senatorial candidates in this year’s ASUC elections.
Kaushal and Navid — both of whom are endorsed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition — will be campaigning as a team, although they remain unaffiliated with any student government political party.
“We want to be seen as working together,” Navid said.
The coalition has been endorsing candidates since it was founded in 2008, according to Sadia Saifuddin, a former MEMSA-backed senator and current UC student regent-designate.
Last election cycle, MEMSA backed current Independent Senator Naweed Mohabbat — who is running for president on CalSERVE’s executive slate this year — and Taliah Mirmalek. Both Kaushal and Navid formerly interned for Mohabbat, who authored a bill last semester to provide interfaith meditation space on campus.
Kaushal said she had not considered running for senate until February, when MEMSA approached her and offered their endorsement.
“I was surprised,” Kaushal said in a message. “Though I was a leader in different student organizations, I had not considered taking the next step to run for ASUC Senate.”
Kaushal and Navid share similar backgrounds of political activism on campus. Last fall, Navid helped organize the Muslim Student Association’s silent protest against the government’s use of drones domestically and overseas. Kaushal dedicates her time to raising awareness about human trafficking, currently serving on the board of the campus chapter of the International Justice Mission, an international human rights agency that rescues and gives assistance to victims of slavery.
Both of their platforms reflect their experiences as activists. Kaushal, a member of the Sikh community, would like to further previous work by the senate to make UC Berkeley a fair-trade university. She will also focus on increasing coalition work among community service groups, including putting on themed events such as this week’s Poverty and Homeless Symposium.
Navid plans to help student organizations increase their visibility by putting together a campuswide calendar of events, which she wants to connect to CalLink or to the LEAD Center. She said she is also looking to help service organizations by offering seminars and workshops focusing on leadership skills early in the fall semester.
Navid added that it is important to have independent voices in the senate to ensure the student body is best represented.
“It’s expected — not every party can represent every issue,” Navid said. “The independent voice is a wild card on campus to make sure nobody is left behind.”
SQUELCH! announced its senate slate Feb. 17. The two major student political parties, CalSERVE and Student Action, have yet to announce a senate slate.
The 2014-15 ASUC general elections will take place April 8, 9 and 10.