amir wright for senate
Hey there, my name is Amir Wright, I'm a second-year Political Science major from Los Angeles, CA. Since my late childhood, I knew I wanted to make change for the better, in some capacity, however I could. Over time, that drive developed into a desire to advocate for people and create improvements in their lives.
Now, I am running to represent you in the ASUC Senate. Why? I want to make positive, measurable change in people's lives. I began my efforts to make that happen in late 2017, when I was appointed to the City of Berkeley's Housing Advisory Commission. In that capacity, I continue to push housing policies that support student housing opportunities and developments. In the ASUC I took a role as the Director of Senator Hussein's Financial Wellness Department. As Director, I began to work closely with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to alleviate confusion among the student body regarding their finances and increase student awareness of funding opportunities. In the Black Community, I saw firsthand the effects of Free Speech Week on student health and morale. As an ASUC Senator, I will have the resources and platform to begin talks with UCPD regarding their presence on campus.
I am running for ASUC Senate because I will be able to continue the work I already do on campus, and I will be able to begin new projects that I hadn't previously been able to take on. I am more than qualified for the position, and have experience at the State, City, and University levels of government. I am well-connected with key campus personnel; relationships that I can leverage as an ASUC Senator to drive change in the areas that I seek to improve. As your ASUC Senator, rest assured that I will dutifully serve as an advocate for your issues and a voice for those without one. Thank you for your continued support.
During Free Speech Week there were hundreds of armed riot officers, trucks armored with quarter inch steel plates, barricades, and other tools of oppression. All of this came at a cost of almost 4 million dollars. This was a detriment to campus both financially and psychologically. People told me they didn’t feel comfortable or safe even coming to class that week. Professors cancelled classes. Students were scared. This is not and will not be the climate we allow on campus. I am calling for UCPD to demilitarize and shift into a peacekeeping role rather than one of control and oppression. Why does a campus police force need to brandish rifles and grenade launchers on the students they are supposed to be protecting? What would this demilitarization look like? It looks like meeting with UCPD personnel and establishing a plan of action. It looks like meeting with Captain Alex Yao, whom I’ve already met and can potentially allow me to meet with Chief Margo Bennett. Through her, I see potential for real change in UCPD. Not only will this improve the campus climate for Black students and immigrants, but for the campus community as a whole.
Why does UCPD disproportionately target minorities? How can we combat the institutionalized racism perpetuated by our own police department? We need to train our police force to appropriately interact with members of different cultures and identities. At current, they don’t seem to protect minority communities as much as they should. This could manifest itself in the form of a refusal to participate in Urban Shield Training, and instead hold alternative, sensitivity training, where officers will learn how to properly interface with students.
Support and passage of City Council’s More Student Housing NOW Resolution. I had a substantial role in compelling the Planning Commission to hear this item in the first place, and I gathered students at their meeting to speak out in favor of the Resolution. While we won that night, the fight is not yet over. Among other things, this Resolution would remove City barriers to development of student housing. As closely as I have worked (and continue to work) with this and other City housing items, I have yet to take my work to the ASUC in any real capacity. If elected, I will be able to advocate for, start, and rally support for items just like this in order to increase student housing availability. This starts with my appointment to the ASUC Housing Commission. There, I can bring my city experience together with my campus experience and create real change.
“How did you find your housing?” “Where did you look?” “Who did you talk to?” These are the questions I get asked by students looking to live off-campus next year. Many go into the process blind and have no real idea of how to find a house, what to look for, and what they can afford. By increasing accessibility, I want to demystify the process of looking for housing. What are their options? What are the laws of the City and the State? What is Costa-Hawkins? What does it mean for students? Are they eligible for Section 8 vouchers? Again, I can bring my City experience to this role and help students understand exactly what they are getting into.
financial aid verification
When a student takes out loans, they are selected by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for a process called ‘verification.’ What this means is that students can spend weeks without their financial aid awards while the campus takes steps to verify their package. This process does not need to be this cumbersome and no student should have to go for so many weeks without money to sustain themselves. If elected, I will meet with the director of Financial Aid and Scholarships and work on potential routes to streamline this process and shorten the period in which students go without funding.
Emergency Funds Disbursement
In the event that the process of verification cannot be streamlined at all - which is possible given that it is mandated by the State - or that we cannot streamline it enough, I want to establish procedures for emergency funds to be disbursed for students who are selected for the verification process. Currently, there are two types of emergency loans available, but neither is guaranteed to cover all of the expenses students incur. Furthermore, a $20 administrative fee is assessed for each emergency loan application. Students should not have to pay more money to receive money that they already should have received. I will continue to work with the Financial Aid and Scholarships office in order to explore potential avenues to address this issue.
Commissioner - City of Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission*
Director of Financial Wellness - Office of ASUC Senator Hani Hussein*
Student Representative - ASUC Housing Commission*
Student Representative - Student Advisory Committee on Financial Aid and Education*
Student Representative - Vice Chancellor’s Student Advisory Committee*
Executive Board Member - Barbershop Talks*
Co-Founder & Signatory - Black Pre-Law Association at Berkeley*
Executive of External Affairs Collegiate 100* Orientation Leader - Golden Bear Orientation*
Member - Cal Black Student Union*
Member - Undergraduate Political Science Association*
Former Intern - Office of California State Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas*
Former Secretary - Unit 1 Christian-Cheney Hall Association*
*Titles for identification purposes only