Two freshmen who have been student senators since last fall are the lone candidates running for president of Cabrillo College Student Senate in this week’s election.
Moritz Wodtke, a 19-year-old political science major, is running against Timothy Randazzo, a 19-year-old environmental engineering major. The two got to know each other during their first semester at Cabrillo and together decided to join the senate at the same time. Although students aren’t bound to vote with parties, Randazzo is running with Spencer Merritt as vice president, and Wodtke is running with Alberto Amezcua.
On Tuesday, May 1st, all Cabrillo students will get an email linking them to the ballot. Voters can also go to the Cabrillo College Student Senate homepage or in person at polling stations outside the library on the Aptos campus, the VAPA quad, and at the Watsonville Center. Voting will continue through Thursday, May 3rd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Wodtke is the current vice president of the Senate and a self-proclaimed political nerd. He joined the Senate last fall looking to “dive into the playing field” and see if he enjoys what he is studying.
With experience as treasurer of the Student Senate and vice president, he says there lots of room for improvement at Cabrillo. He cites continuing the bus pass, protecting DACA students and improving the school’s football stadium as issues he would address as president. “I don’t know how many of you are aware, but the stadium is falling apart, it’s really not in good condition and I would like to improve that,” said Wodtke.
Although Wodtke says these issues need to be dealt with, he also says the most important issue for him is improving school spirit. “Cabrillo’s a commuter school and I would really like to instill a kind of pride in the students and make sure they really love their school and feel proud of it,” said Wodtke. Cabrillo wasn’t his first choice when applying for colleges, yet during his time here he has found great opportunities, resources, and a supportive faculty.
Amezcua, an 18-year-old political science major – and Wodtke’s vice presidential running mate – also mentioned improving school spirit as something he will work on if elected. Since Cabrillo “is a community college, there can be this social apathy and I really want to do away with that and create a more cohesive environment, ” said Amezcua. “Basically letting people know these are the things going on at school, these are the things you can join, the things you can do, I think that exposure really goes a long way.”
“One of the things I really want to work on is to create a more diverse student senate, as well as creating more support for DACA students,” said Amezcua.
Amezcua said his motivation in running for vice president isn’t to build his resume. He says vice president is a position in which he can directly help people, which gives him a sense of gratification. “Being a Latino student, I can empathize with a large portion of the community here in school, and I feel lots of people that come from my background don’t really have the support that they can get and I just want to be able to help them with that,” said Amezcua.
Timothy Randazzo, a 19-year-old environmental engineering major is the other candidate for student senate president, and a co-creator of the UNITE party which he touts as Cabrillo’s first political party.
UNITE candidates, including Randazzo, are running on a platform of student advocacy, better communication with students, continued renewal of the bus pass and an emphasis on student equity. Randazzo says he’s been involved in school politics as far back as middle school. For him, getting involved in Cabrillo’s Student Senate was a natural evolution of his passion.
Randazzo says in Student Senates’ past peer pressure was something that prevented senators from expressing their true feelings on issues. “The president kind of dominates, they have their platform, their ideals. They sort of dominate debate and discussion,and make it very prevalent what they want, ” said Randazzo.
If elected president, he would prevent this from happening, especially to new senators. “I will not tolerate anyone taking control or making people feel inferior.”
Randazzo said. “Everyone’s input matters and I would definitely encourage everyone to be confident in their ability to be a student leader and be a representative of the students here.”
Randazzo said students’ issues and needs fell by the wayside this year in the Senate. “I hope that running and being elected with UNITE, and all the work I’ve done already, the Student Senate transforms the way it thinks and works and focuses more on what’s important.”
Spencer Merritt, a 19-year-old political science major, is Randazzo’s running mate. “Certain elements of the current Senate feel that we should not necessarily be taking sides on issues, and effectively that makes us function as an ATM, and not a student representative organization,” said Merritt. “Especially as the current legislative representative, I think it’s my job – as well as the other senators’ – to advocate for student issues.”
Merritt says sending out student surveys and facilitating more student forums are ideas that he and UNITE would implement in the next school year. “We want to get ahead of the game, we don’t want to just find out about an issue later after its become a problem and somebody is upset, we want to know what’s going on,” said Merritt.
“We need to show Cabrillo students that there is a Senate, we are here, we do represent you. We’re also students, we’re approachable, we want to talk more and improve our campus. That’s our job.”
Although president and vice president are a few of the only executive positions being contested by multiple candidates, Wodtke, Amezcua, Randazzo, and Merritt aren’t the only ones looking for a vote. Blair Niu is running for Inter-Club Council chair, Margarito Rodriguez Rivera for legislative representative, and Rose De La Paz for Watsonville Representative. These candidates don’t have any competition, but they will still be on the ballot and won’t be elected if they dont get more than 25% of those who vote to elect them.
Director of Public Relations is being contested by three candidates: Cheyenne Loftus, Jacob Castillo, and Rachel Menge. Alex Unger is running for student trustee against Daniel Perez. Medb O’Connor is running for treasurer of student senate against Ana Lopez.
With the responsibility of managing and allocating a budget of around a quarter of a million dollars, being a student senator may present more power and influence than many have begun to realize. During the last student senate election, only 684 students voted, which was a record high for voter turnout.
Moreover, is it’s not uncommon for senate seats to go unfilled. There are a total of 20 positions on the student senate – including 12 senators at large, and eight executive positions. In recent history, it is pretty common for there to be extra senator positions that never are filled, as there seems to be a general lack of awareness around the student senate from many Cabrillo students.
Not only does the student senate have control of the Student Activity Card budget, which is all the income generated from student ID /bus pass fees, but they represent Cabrillo’s student body in liaison with Cabrillo’s administration, as well as in communications with other community colleges within the region, state, and country.
Although the deadline for becoming a executive student senator has passed, it’s not too late to become involved in the student senate. First off, students can vote this May 1 through 3 and help determine who will represent the voices of our community college.
Students can also get involved with the student senate by joining as a senator-at-large, or student emissary. It is most likely there will be non-executive senate positions available for anyone to be appointed to during the 2018-2019 school year. The application requires 50 signatures from enrolled Cabrillo students, as well as a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, and enrollment in at least 5 units during the term you serve.
When all senate positions are filled, all can participate by attending the weekly general senate meetings – open to the public. All students can see first-hand where the budget continues to be allocated, as well as where the student senate stands on impactful issues. As a constituent, all members are able to share input with the senators on their concerns that need to be addressed.
For more information on the student senate go to their website (www.cabrillo.edu/assocations/studentsenate) or attend student senate meetings that are open to the public and held every Thursday at 3pm in SAC East – Aptos campus.