Esmeralda Martinez, a campus sophomore intending to major in political science and minor in education, is running as an independent candidate for ASUC Senate.
Martinez hails from Richmond, CA, and through her experience growing up in the Bay Area, said she thoroughly understands the stress that comes with living in cities that may experience high rates of violence. She would like to work to make the student experience as safe and accessible as possible.
She plans to focus on three main objectives: undocumented student advocacy, mental health and wellness and basic needs access.
While working to improve resources for undocumented students, Martinez would like to expand on campus opportunities and funds for undocumented student internships, specifically the Transcending Beyond Berkeley Fellowship, which provides undocumented students with access to internships and work study-like opportunities. She hopes to increase funding for the program from $90,000 to $120,000.
Martinez stressed that the focus on undocumented students is not just for Latinx students but rather for any student on campus who is undocumented and needs support. To better aid students with mental health struggles, she would like to work towards providing accessible professional diagnoses for students.
In order to provide more access to basic needs, specifically regarding food security, Martinez said she would like to work with Cal Dining to ensure that students can easily access fresh food. She also noted that she would like to make sure that campus provides food that coincides with religious holidays such as Lent and Ramadan.
“I’ve been talking to other candidates about making Cal Dining a little more aware of religious events that may be going on,” Martinez said. “I know last Ramadan, they served pork, and I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again and that there can be better communication.”
Martinez has previously worked under ASUC Senator Griselda Vega, whose platform also focuses on undocumented students. This year, she has worked under ASUC Senator Manuel Cisneros, who has worked on advocating for the queer community.
Martinez said she admires how these senators have connected with communities around them, and if elected, hopes to mirror this during her own time in office. While in office, she hopes to create more community-based relationships and make sure funds are properly allocated on campus.
“I am very community focused,” Martinez said. “Something that is very important to me is community over competition. I think that is something that is very important to have in a school like Berkeley. It can get kind of competitive and we can forget what the real reason we are here for.”