UC Berkeley sophomore Varsha Madapoosi is running independently for ASUC Senate on a platform built on intersectionality and environmental justice.
Pursuing a double major in data science and society and environment, Madapoosi is running to represent the campus environmental community, or eco-community. Her priorities as a senatorial candidate include expanding environmental justice and intersectional education, as well as fostering a stronger network within the eco-community.
Madapoosi’s platform is shaped by her experiences of feeling like an “imposter” for not fitting in with the common definition of what an environmentalist is. However, through her involvement in campus environmental organizations, such as the Students of Color Environmental Collective, she has developed her own narrative of what an environmentalist is.
“I spent a lot of time in the eco-community because the community was, like, the first place where I really felt at home on campus,” Madapoosi said. “Walking into the (Student Environmental Resource Center) space and meeting everyone was just so heartwarming, especially as a freshman with no idea what’s going on.”
Madapoosi added that she intends to expand conversations on accessibility and environmentalism on campus by forming partnerships and collaborations with organizations serving underrepresented communities. Her goal is to work toward integrating environmental justice into every environmental dialogue and ensure underrepresented communities are given a voice.
Madapoosi is endorsed by Sarah Bancroft, the current ASUC eco-focused senator. Madapoosi said she is running independently to continue a legacy of past independent eco-community senators — if elected, Madapoosi will be the ninth consecutive senator to represent the community.
“It’s the most effective way to represent our community internally,” Madapoosi said in regards to running as an independent candidate. “I can focus entirely on our own community rather than getting involved in ASUC politics and kind of getting thrown down the hole.”
Although Madapoosi announced the launch of her campaign about a week ago, she noted that the eco-community has already been very supportive, and she is feeling “humbled” by the extent to which her platforms have resonated with the community.
While Madapoosi is primarily running to represent the eco-community on campus, she said the other identities she holds, such as being a member of the South Asian community and a student worker, allow her to bring an “intersectional lens” to further conversations on a wide range of issues.
“I’m always here, ready to grow and learn,” Madapoosi said. “Environmentalism is for everyone on campus; you don’t have to be in (Rausser College of Natural Resources), you don’t have to be an environmental major to care about sustainability. You can have multiple interests, and environmentalism can be at the root of it all.”
ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.