By Nayra Halajian
“I’m really thankful, grateful, and humbled by how everyone has been responding to my election. It’s so comforting to know that random students that I’ve never met before have been coming up to me and saying that they voted me,” ASUPS President-elect Amanda Diaz said. On Saturday Apr. 1, the ASUPS Facebook page announced that Amanda Diaz was elected ASUPS President for 2017-2018, with Jenna Mobley elected Vice President. Diaz was born and raised in the Bay Area and is majoring in American Border Studies, a Special Interdisciplinary Major that intersects Politics and Government, Latino/a Studies, and Sociology and Anthropology. “I think I really care about what the school does and how it treats its students. I’ve done a lot of work in a variety of different ways with the school whether it’s through clubs or CWLT or academics,” she said. In her freshman year, she began Advocates for Detainees’ Voices, a club on campus created for students to donate time and service toward empowering detainees and their families. It is the only club on campus that is heavily involved in advocacy work at the Northwest Detention Center. Additionally, Diaz was the President of Latinx Unidos, an organization that, according to its Facebook page, is “dedicated to the advancement of the presence of Latino culture on the University of Puget Sound campus by uniting Latino students.” On the topic of what made her decide to run for ASUPS President, Diaz said, “I did not envision myself in this position ever. I was primarily approached by Noah at the beginning of this year and I laughed it off. But then he asked me again right when applications came out and I was still really certain that I wasn’t going to do it.” “I’ve always tried to find ways that I can input myself politically or socially, and how we can make our campus safer and more inclusive for everyone,” Diaz said. “So I thought this was a good position to take on those issues on a larger and more institutional level.” In regards to the transition of power between current ASUPS President Noah Lumbantobing and Diaz, Diaz mentioned that they have had many meetings together where Lumbantobing has been extremely helpful. “He was literally giving me the lowdown of suggestions, concerns, and where he wants his vision to continue with ASUPS. And tips and how I should strategically use my time for certain things,” Diaz said. “He’s been giving me a lot of advice and I’m super grateful for that. It’s been very overwhelming for the past few days.” When asked about the election and her former opponent, Doug Palmer, and his decision to drop out of the race, Diaz said, “I was sad that he dropped out because I genuinely think that he was a good candidate and he obviously has expressed his passion for ASUPS and to bridge the gap between ASUPS and students.”
“I’m obviously understanding of his reasons and those are very valid. His health and safety are his number one priority. I was super grateful that he was able to let me know about that. He said really kind words and it was super nice. Thanks to him to take the time to sit down a reflect on this position,” Diaz added.
Although Palmer dropped out of the ASUPS election for president, his running mate for Vice-President, Jenna Mobley, continued to run and was elected Vice President. Diaz and Mobley had not known each other before the election.
“So far Jenna and I have worked super well. The only bad thing is that we haven’t gotten to know each other at all. We were sort of thrown into it and we’ve already needed to hire executive members and work through applications,” Diaz said.
As ASUPS President and Vice President, Diaz and Mobley are responsible for hiring the ASUPS executive members. This includes Director of Business Services, Director of Technology Services, Director of Marketing and Outreach, and Director of Student Interests.
platform which is equity, justice, community, inclusion, and transparency,” Diaz said. “I’m looking for students who are critical about ASUPS. I think when you bring a critical eye to something you’re working with, you’re more likely to work in and continue to make it better.”
Diaz also highlighted the main things she wants to do, one of which includes maintaining the legacy of ASUPS Presidents of the past. This includes continuing to allocate part of the ASUPS budget to identity-based scholarships.
“Jenna and I have been trying to get those scholarships endowed so that whatever happens with the University or anything happens in our political climate, those are safe for the longevity of the University,” Diaz said.
Additionally, Diaz mentioned bringing back weekly town hall meetings that were started by 2014-2015 ASUPS President Nakisha Renee Jones. “Those were just monthly town hall meetings where she’d set up a podium and microphone, and set up chairs in the piano lounge. We talked about issues either that happened that week or themed issues,” Diaz said.
“I also want to continue Cultural Consciousness and bring more campus-wide conversations about power, privilege, racism, and colonization that affects our current day,” Diaz said. “This would involve workshops, guest speakers, or mandatory training for athletes or Greek life, or all of the ASUPS clubs. Once we’re able to give people that, [people] who normally wouldn’t be having those conversations, we’re able to be more accepting to being inclusive.”
“Definitely being really accessible to students and bridging the gap between the average UPS student and ASUPS is important. I want to figure out ways that we can reach out and be accessible to those who wouldn’t normally be upstairs in Wheelock,” Diaz said.
Accessibility to ASUPS is a major concern for Diaz. “I know Jenna and I are going to have office hours, but we’ve been thinking a lot about how to have Diversions hours so that we’re really accessible. Another thing I’m thinking is anonymous suggestions of some kind,” Diaz said.
“I would like to think I’m a really approachable person and so I would really urge students if they have concerns or suggestions to let me know. With club emails, I literally end it with ‘If you have any concerns, questions, comments, please just let me know.’ It’s either a message away or a phone call away. There are ways that you can get in contact with me.”
Lastly, Diaz highlighted that she wants to address violence in any form of the word.
“Physical violence, emotional violence and the fact that students don’t really feel safe on campus for a variety of reasons. I don’t know how I would tangibly address those issues, but I think it goes a lot with education and how we reframe the way people think about certain issues,” she said.
When asked about her final thoughts on her election, she said, “I’ve never really felt like UPS was my home for a lot of reasons. How students have responded to my election has made me rethink that and I’m really grateful that students are happy that I won.”