Bruins United finishes big

By Udeitha Srimushnam and Ben Thaler
Published May 11th 2007 in The Daily Bruin
Bruins United won a decisive victory in the undergraduate student government elections Thursday night, taking eight of the 10 contested seats, including the office of the president.

In addition to the presidency, Bruins United won three commissioner positions and both vice president offices, as well as two of the three general representative positions.

Students First! won one general representative position and the office of the Cultural Affairs commissioner.

“An hour ago I never thought that this could happen. We worked so hard this week,” Gabe Rose, newly elected Undergraduate Students Association Council president, said.

“This is unprecedented.”

Many of the Students First! candidates were in tears as the results were being announced. But when some Students First! supporters began to jeer at the names of winners, Greg Cendana, Students First! presidential candidate, encouraged them to “keep your heads up and stay positive.”

Minutes before the results were announced, Bruins United campaign officials took a restrained, yet hopeful, tone.

“I’m excited, but in the end we’re fighting for one cause ... because we’re one university,” said Bruins United general representative candidate Jesse Rogel, who did not win a seat.

Joline Price, a current USAC general representative and Bruins United campaign manager, said she was cautiously optimistic because “you never know until they say it.”

Students First! candidates and supporters gathered in Meyerhoff Park an hour before results were announced and broke out into chanting and dancing while they waited.

Several of the races were close, with Bruins United Financial Supports commissioner candidate Clinton Jang, Facilities commissioner candidate Sherlyn Mossahebfar and external vice president candidate Justin Hotter each winning by less than 2 percent of the vote.

For the presidential results, independent candidates Dave Valk and Jose Manaiza were eliminated in the first and second round of instant-runoff voting, respectively. Bruins United candidate Gabe Rose won 54 percent of the redistributed votes, beating Students First! candidate Cendana, who garnered 46 percent of the vote.

As the results were announced, Bruins United broke out into the 8-clap and hoisted winning candidates into the air.

Hotter, who lost his voice through the constant chanting, said Bruins United had made history.

Michelle Lyon, one of two Bruins United candidates who won a general representative seat, said now that Bruins United had a majority in the council, they “will really make things happen.”

“There will be no more petty politics,” Lyon said.

Shortly after all the results were announced, Students First! candidates and supporters formed what they called a “circle of unity” in Bruin Plaza as the candidates addressed the crowd.

“When I decided to run for USAC president, I asked myself, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ but then ... I realized it was larger than myself. I realize it was about the community,” Cendana said.

Several candidates said they were not disappointed to have lost the election, but said they were frustrated that their issues would not be as widely addressed.

“I feel that it’s unfortunate that the UCLA campus failed to see the qualifications, mission and deep understanding of these people,” said Matias Ramos, the Students First! Financial Supports commissioner candidate who was defeated.

Jamel Greer, Students First! internal vice presidential candidate, said he was not disheartened that he did not get elected to USAC.

“I’m not frustrated because I didn’t get the title, I’m frustrated because I’m understanding the struggles my ancestors have gone through,” he said.

Other Students First! candidates took on a somber tone but pledged to continue to work for their cause.

“I’ll still do the work I’ve always done. I’ll still be fighting on issues of affordability,” Jeanalee Obergfell, Students First! external vice president candidate, said.

Her fellow candidates mirrored her positive outlook on this year’s elections results.

Sanobar Sajan, who won a general representative seat, said, “What happened here doesn’t matter.”

“We will continue to change this campus, L.A., our communities and the world,” Sajan said.

Alexandra Ramos, who was an unsuccessful Students First! candidate for Academic Affairs commissioner, said she is proud of her slate and all its efforts.

“(The results) just mean we have to work twice as hard,” Ramos said.