Shva Star for Student Advocate General
The Daily Nexus endorses the sixth-year earth science major and current chief of staff for the Office of the Internal Vice President, Shva Star, for the students’ general counsel.
The Nexus believes that Star’s institutional knowledge, passion, and lived experiences give her the empathy and experience necessary to succeed as a Student General Advocate (SAG).
Star is running against Kristen Wu, a specialist in statistics and data science, currently the internal chief of staff at the Office of the Student Advocate (OSA).
The SAG is an executive, nonpartisan position that acts as a liaison between the university and its student body, provides free and confidential peer support to students, and directly advocates for students to administration.
Although Star has no prior OSA experience, Star’s lived experiences on campus and within academic entities – as Resident Assistant and Chief of Staff to the Vice President Internal, among others – demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the resources available to students and a clear passion for helping students access them.
“As a multi-ethnic black woman, as a low-income disabled woman, as a non-traditional student now entering my [seventh] year in school…I have to defend myself daily in most spaces that I find myself in,” Star said. “I stand for everything I do. That’s how I live my daily life, and that’s what I do naturally.
The Nexus also views Star’s longevity on this campus, with the candidate currently in her sixth year at UC Santa Barbara, as a unique asset to the office. During her time at university, she sought out the services of the Financial Crisis Response Team, Academic Counselling, the Disabled Students Program (DSP), which enabled her to help her comrades to navigate these same resources.
“Especially me being here for so long, I’ve seen students drop out because they didn’t have the support they needed, the advocacy they needed,” Star said. “They can’t afford to live here, they couldn’t afford the fees, and it didn’t make sense, and no student should have to suffer like this for basic necessities.”
Some of Star’s platform points include weekly deposits to expand the reach of the office, guide students on how to restore academic success, create an ambassador program for students in need of advocacy, expand the student code of conduct, create a resource guide for the student body, and hold a community chat box for students to voice concerns and direct them to resources.
The SAG office is responsible for processing individual student cases and helping them navigate the wide range of little-known resources that the university and Student Associates (AS) have to offer. Star identified the lack of a consolidated resource platform in its platform points and offered two new resources that would help students identify relevant and available programs, options and people.
The resource guide in particular is a workable and well-thought-out idea. Star told the Nexus that she hopes to publish a book containing resources, such as the names and emails of people at the university who can help solve specific problems, with a quarterly print edition and updates. more frequent online updates.
“The topics on my platform are meant to be not just the tools, but a guide with the real person telling you how to use it so you can use the resources that are on offer,” Star said.
Star said she also undergoes certified mental health training and crisis intervention training to properly advocate and help someone in a mental health crisis. Star hopes to create a peer certification program where certified students could train their peers in mental health and crisis intervention and CPR certification.
However, the Nexus found some of its platforming points – as well as the interview itself – broad with a lack of specificity about how its office would sometimes achieve its goals. The point of Star’s platform of a violence-free campus, for its part, was without the support of a tangible plan.
Wu is a candidate with two years of OSA experience as the office’s current in-house chief of staff. However, the Nexus was disappointed with the lack of institutional knowledge she expressed during her interview and found that she only had one original idea to come up with.
When asked what qualifies her to be SAG, Wu said, “My experience at OSA really helped me see that not everyone has had the same experience with COVID, everyone doesn’t have the same experience going back to college with adjustment, and I think UCSB has really failed to accommodate these different groups.
Understanding that different marginalized groups on campus have unique experiences with COVID-19 and beyond is undoubtedly an important aspect of the SAG’s role. However, despite two years of experience in the office, Wu did not address any aspect of institutional knowledge, management skills or advocacy work that would be expected of such a term.
Wu’s platform points create a committee within the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Sexual Harassment and Violence, increase the visibility of the office, and maintain the Department of UC font.
Although the idea of creating a committee dedicated to combating sexual harassment and violence is a great idea, it was the only original idea proposed by Wu.
Wu has also expressed a distinct reluctance to engage with local law enforcement and the university if elected as SAG. the university to voice the concerns of the student body. Wu’s reservations about such collaboration lead the Nexus to worry about whether these tasks will be accomplished.
When asked who in the administration she would like her office to work with, Wu declined to name any officials, responding with “not particularly.”
“Not particularly, I think I’d like to stick with student councils because I feel like they’re more similar in promoting the mission of SAG,” Wu said.
Both Star and Wu have been reluctant to spell out their goals under their terms of office if elected, and the Nexus wants Star to demonstrate a more explicit understanding of the office’s internal functions. For example, Star didn’t state any goals with casework – an important OSA task – it’s something Wu has expressed a desire to improve.
“One thing I would do differently [from Lucero] is to increase the level of focus on the case work that we do,” Wu said. “We lost a bit of focus on the very specific cases that we handle.”
Star, however, expressed a clear and sincere passion for directly helping the students Wu missed. will allow him to naturally transition to and navigate through office tasks, such as providing individual folders.
Star opened up about her constant self-reliance throughout her life and how she used those skills to fight for the “basic treatment” of people from all walks of life. The Nexus sees Star’s clear desire to stand up for everyone around her, whether in an official capacity as an AS executive or simply as an individual invested in ensuring justice and a fair treatment for others.
“I had to do it for myself, I had to do it for family members, I had to do it for strangers on the street,” she said. “I do it because no one else does, and that’s where you really need that advocacy.”
The Nexus believes that Star has a clear passion for helping students solve issues she faces intimately, which will drive her to go beyond simply fulfilling SAG responsibilities and holding the university accountable for creating changes for the good of the student body.
A version of this article originally appeared on p. 6-7 of the April 14 print edition of the Daily Nexus.