Current ASUC chief of staff in the Office of Academic Affairs James Weichert announced Tuesday evening that he is running for academic affairs vice president, or AAVP, in the upcoming ASUC elections.
Weichert is a campus sophomore studying computer science and data science with a minor in public policy. If elected, he plans to focus his efforts on pushing for student academic accommodations, especially in light of UC Berkeley’s plan to return to in-person instruction for the upcoming fall semester.
“I’m really passionate about really digging into big transformative policy changes and looking at areas where the campus has failed its students year, over year over year,” Weichert said. “I think that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Weichert said he wants to approach his campaign through an equity lens by looking at existing policies and examining how issues such as resource allocation, GPA capped majors and curved courses impact students, especially marginalized and underrepresented communities.
Weichert is running as an independent candidate. He cited his experience working under current AAVP Nicole Anyanwu, who also ran as an independent candidate, as informing his decision.
His previous projects include working with Anyanwu’s office in passing policies, including altering this semester’s pass/no pass grading system and reimagining remote proctoring. Weichert also worked to virtualize student wellness events such as Llamapalooza and currently serves as co-chair of the UC Berkeley Student Fee Referenda Committee.
Weichert said as a leader in the “student fee ecosystem,” he has been working to center student voices along every step of the administrative process.
His ability to jump straight into his campaign objectives, Weichert said, is informed by his experience working with campus’ executive vice chancellor and provost on previous projects serving students and faculty.
“It’s why I’m running in the first place because I believe I have the experience and the knowledge and the relationships necessary to hit the ground running,” Weichert said. “Not just at the beginning of August, or the beginning of fall semester. But right when I’m sworn in May.”
If elected, Weichert noted that he will continue advocating for student accommodations in his present position as Anyanwu’s term comes to an end this spring. He will then spend the summer continuing to work on those policies with the incoming chair of the campus Academic Senate.
Given the unique insight from his previous ASUC positions, Weichert noted that “party politics” have often been a struggle in achieving change, and he aims to instead put the focus on students.
“It’s an issue about representing all students,” Weichert said. “That’s what I intend to do completely if elected AAVP. Representing all students, regardless of who they voted for, and regardless of where they come from or what background they have.”
ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.