My name is Sarah Abdeshahian and I am a second-year majoring in Political Science and Economics.
I am currently serving as the Chief-of-Staff to the External Affairs Vice President and the Communications Director for Student Regent Monge. Some highlights of my work have been writing and advocating for an amendment to Regent Policy 7102 on Chancellor Search Committees, helping the UC Student Association form and reveal the UC Regent Report Card, advising the UC Student Regent on the formation of the UC-wide Title IX Student Advisory Board, serving as UC Berkeley's delegation leader for the 2018 Students of Color Conference, leading efforts to stop the tuition hikes, and calling for the removal of Regent Pattiz...and succeeding.
I am running for ASUC Senate because my work is not done. This space is flawed but it is powerful. It can mobilize students, create policy, set precedent, and make changes on this campus, but it can only be successful with genuine leadership and community outreach. And that is what I intend on working on as I move to "decolonize, organize, mobilize," empower womxn of color, and hold UC Regents accountable.
decolonize, organize, mobilize
Decolonize Student Activism
Many student activist spaces are fueled by elitism and exclusivity, in turn leading to inaccessibility and immobility. Sarah will work to decolonize student activism. She wants to make the space more welcoming to newcomers by creating an educational atmosphere. This will be accomplished through the continuation and expansion of the Grassroots DeCal, which Sarah helped create within the EAVP Office. She believes that this DeCal is beneficial for folks who are interested in organizing around issues that they are passionate about, but are not sure where to start. She will improve the DeCal through more collaboration with local activists and increased publicity of the opportunity. She plans to set up recurring Organizing 101 trainings in order to provide a less intensive, more accessible opportunity for students to learn more about student activism and student power.
Organize Beyond the Polls
In 2016, the UC and the Secretary of State signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to increase student voter engagement. Due to the lack of progress on this MOU, we need to take strides to register students to vote on a campus-wide level. This can be materialized through student voter education trainings at Golden Bear Orientation. Furthermore, it is important to move beyond just registering students to vote; we must make sure that students are making informed choices on the ballot. Sarah will set up civic engagement workshops in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, which will provide a non-partisan, political-jargon-broken-down overview of each issue on the ballot and allow students to better understand what they are voting for. Following the election, Sarah will continue to have dialogue and organize action around ongoing policy changes in order to create a more informed and politically active student body.
Mobilizing Mondays will be monthly days of action during which students will collectively organize for a specific issue. Sarah will take ideas from the general public via survey in order to see which issues are most pressing at the time. Mobilizing will take the form of phone banking, letter-writing, sit-ins, protests, and anything in between and beyond these methods. This will be an opportunity for students to work together to show their support or opposition to policy issues that inevitably affect us as students and as people. This will be the time for students to show their power and remind lawmakers that we are here, and when we come together our needs cannot be ignored.
empower womxn of color
Undergraduate Womxn of Color Conference
A conference specifically catered for Undergraduate Womxn of Color is essential for identity exploration, self growth, and coalition building. However, it is imperative for communities and stakeholders to be present at every step of the planning process. As a delegation leader for the 2018 Students of Color Conference, Sarah has witnessed first-hand the downfalls of a conference that aims to serve communities without first consulting members of these communities. In the creation of this conference, we hope to create a safe space for WoC within a University that has consistently mistreated them. However, we also want to make sure that there is a dialogue about the inherent anti-blackness within our communities. This conference will act as a complement to the Graduate Assembly’s Empowering Womxn of Color Conference, as it provides a separate, student-driven space for undergraduate WoC to battle campus-wide issues. This conference will explore topics that disproportionately affect womxn of color and will serve as a space where womxn can work together to empower themselves and one another. Sarah will work to institutionalize this conference within the ASUC and UC Students Association to ensure continuity in future years.
Strengthening Title IX policy
The establishment of the UC-wide Title IX Student Advisory Board was a massive step forward in strengthening Title IX policy by giving students a seat at the table. However, for years, UC Berkeley has failed to comply with Title IX in regard to campus sexual violence disciplinary procedures. The establishment of a campus-wide Title IX Student Advisory Board would provide an additional space for UC Berkeley students to advise campus administrators on the needs of the students- the primary stakeholders of the University. This board would be integral in keeping administrators accountable to Title IX policy as well as allowing students to create policy that builds off of what is already in place. Students have historically led and will continue to lead efforts against mishandling of sexual assault claims, and the establishment of a Student Advisory Board is only the first in many steps our campus needs to take to expand student influence on a policy level.
Improving access to graduate school resources for Womxn of Color
Womxn of Color have historically been underrepresented in graduate school. Sarah will work to provide greater graduate school resources for WoC in order to make it a more accessible option for womxn-identifying students. The establishment of a graduate school resource fair featuring different graduate programs, test preparation options, and schools would be one way in which Sarah will work to promote the recruitment of WoC for futures in academia. She will also organize application workshops hosted by current women of color in graduate school that will be essential in helping WoC move forward with hopes of attending graduate school. Additionally, at an institutional level, Sarah will work with the Career Center and L&S Advising to ensure that WoC are being prioritized when policies around professional development, and that there is consistent outreach to our communities. Sarah will work with them to demystify the process of applying to graduate school through creating a comprehensive guide on the Career Center website that is focused on supporting womxn, and-more broadly- people of color.
hold the uc regents accountable
Increase Student Turnout at UC Regents Meetings
The Board of Regents is the governing body of the UC. As such, they should be treated as our legislators. However, they are instead treated like an untouchable, overarching force; let’s change that. Sarah will increase student turnout at UC Regents meetings by publicizing when they are happening, where they are happening (UCSF), and working with the Office of the External Affairs Vice President to provide transportation. Included in “turning out” is “speaking out.” She will maximize the number of students that make intelligent, well informed public comment in order to ensure that Regents hear as many student voices as possible during the amount of time that is allotted for us. Additionally, from the vast experience she has gained as Communications Director for UC Student Regent Paul Monge, the students’ greatest ally on the Board, she will encourage and support students to be a part of the StAR program– a program that gets students behind the red tape at every regents meeting and allows them to talk to the UC Regents about the issues that matter most to them as students and as individuals.
Set Up UC Regent Town Halls
Regents are not required to make campus visits, and the majority of them will never do so. We must ensure that Regents spend adequate time engaging with students and seeing what our campuses really need instead of playing a guessing game at each Board meeting. Recently, Sarah was a part of the creation of the UCSA Regent Report Card and the Regent Visit Handbook, which track how engaged the UC Regents are. Regents will now be publicly shamed for not making campus visits. Sarah intends to capitalize off of that, and will set up “Talk to your UC Regent” Town Halls in order to make UC Regents witness how their decisions impact their constituents. This will also give students a unique opportunity to engage with decision-makers that we so often have little access to.
UC Regents Accountability to Basic Needs Security
The Board of Regents constantly pushes off the responsibility of basic needs security to the Campus and City level. However as the primary decision making body of the UC, they should also be held accountable for allocating adequate funding for basic needs resources. We must push for the Board of Regents to take housing and food insecurity more seriously (some of them do not even realize Berkeley is in a housing crisis). It is their responsibility to start taking steps to alleviate this major problem. Sarah will work to lobby the UC Regents and the UC Berkeley administration to create policy based off of the actual cost of attendance, taking tuition hikes off the table, and allocating more funding for housing. We need to keep the Board of Regents accountable to providing basic needs for their constituents. This body should be serving the students of the UC.
Office of the ASUC External Affairs Vice President - Chief-of-Staff, Present
Office of the Student Regent - Communications Director, Present
Office of the ASUC External Affairs Vice President - Policy Aide
Office of ASUC Senator Carrasco - Director of Amendment to Regent Policy 7102
2018 Students of Color Conference - UC Berkeley Delegation Leader
Grassroots DeCal - Co-Facilitator and Co-Founder, Present
ASUC External and University Affairs Committee - EAVP Proxy, Present
November 2017 Regents Meeting - Student Advocate to the Regents
Helped Create the UCSA Regent Report Card
Cal ACLU Field Liaison
Empowering Womxn of Color Conference - Volunteer
Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity - Public Relations Director
Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity - Recruitment Director