There’s no race closer than the academic affairs vice president, or AAVP, election this year — both candidates offer bold visions for the position. Ultimately, Student Action candidate Aastha Jha’s experience makes her the most qualified candidate in the race.
With two years of experience in the AAVP office — both as the chief of staff and the director of food security — Jha has a deep understanding of the job and the office’s inner workings. Jha’s platforms distinguish her from her predecessors — while current AAVP Melany Amarikwa stayed close to home during her campaign with platforms of incorporating physical exercise in the library, Jha’s goals of reforming the Academic Senate, increasing faculty diversity and ensuring course affordability set her apart.
During The Daily Californian’s annual ASUC elections forum, Jha demonstrated an impressive understanding of how to work with administrators and faculty and how data-driven proposals are the best way to persuade them to consider students in the decisions they make.
The editorial board did have concerns about whether Jha’s long-standing affiliation with the AAVP office could hinder her from pushing for change as boldly as her opponent, Regan Putnam of CalSERVE. That said, the board was impressed by her honest critique of past AAVPs’ work and her clear understanding of what the office can and should devote resources to.
“People love llamas, but that shouldn’t be everything that the AAVP office does,” Jha said in an interview with the Daily Cal editorial board.
While Putnam’s passionate advocacy for their community is undeniable — serving as the co-chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Communities at Cal is just one of their many qualifications — it’s unclear how they would apply these skills to influence academic policy and sway stubborn faculty members, considering their lack of experience in the AAVP office.
It’s true that the AAVP office has been held by Student Action for the past three years — something Jha even acknowledged in her interview with the editorial board — and the impact of the office’s endeavors have been lackluster at best. So, Jha must push beyond what the office has accomplished in the past and prioritize concrete solutions to the most pressing issues students are facing on campus.
Vote Aastha Jha for academic affairs vice president.