Adrian Suarez Avila/ News Director
The newest political party for the Student Government Association at Modesto A. Maidique Campus elections took three days to form.
Adrian Ulloa, a junior public administration major; Mitchell Carbajal, a freshman political science major; and Daniela Karaki-Suarez, a freshman business administration major met in early February to create the Whisker party.
The name of the party, invented by Carbajal, is a play on words for, “Who is keeping regard?”
According to Ulloa, despite the fact that two political parties already exist on campus, he and his team members wanted to create one whose main goal was to ensure accountability between students and SGA, as they felt that the current senators weren’t being held accountable for their actions.
Carbajal added that one of the Whisker party’s main goals is to directly represent students, as opposed to serve as a party that pushes its own agenda.
“I’d like to think that the basis of the party’s principles and ideals is not so much pushing our own ideas on our constituency but, rather, responding to what our constituency prioritizes,” he said.
While Ulloa is running for the position of senator at large, Carbajal and Karaki-Suarez are running for the positions of lower-division and housing senators, respectively.
Ulloa admitted that he felt that running for his specific Senate position will allow him to effectively advocate for students, something that he feels his current position as one of the deputies chief-of-staff in the SGA Cabinet doesn’t allow him to do.
In order to create the party, the three members had to draft a constitution, along with the bylaws that the party will abide by. In addition, the three also had to sign forms to ensure that each would abide by the standards set forth by the University’s student code of conduct.
Although the Whisker party is new, Ulloa admits that he wishes it to be something that continues for years to come, and not just as something that appears during election time, but throughout the year as an accountability tool.
“Our hope is that [the] Whisker party can be sort of, not necessarily a watchdog, but something that’s actually holding SGA accountable,” Ulloa said.
The three candidates want to make sure that whatever initiatives SGA is advocating for are ones that students actually care for.
“Whisker itself isn’t just a party, it’s an idea,” Carbajal said. “It’s the principle that the students should be in charge and not just these few people that sit in a room all day and get sweaty and annoyed at each other over dress code.”
Carbajal added that while the candidates in SGA can make a difference the 54,000 students attending the University can make an even greater impact – an idea that he wishes not only the Whisker party to uphold but all of SGA.
Ulloa said that drafting a realistic platform is critical for success.
He added that all of the party’s platform items are things that may be accomplished this year, considering the idea that some candidates promise unrealistic ideas that take a lot of time and effort to execute.
Both Carbajal and Ulloa also commented that although they have a specific platform, the items that they plan to advocate for are not limited to the items already listed in their agenda.
Any ideas that students bring forth to them are ideas for which they’ll advocate, Ulloa said.
He admitted that several students don’t know much about what SGA does or the power that it possesses within the University.
One of the items in the Whisker party’s platform is to hold office hours for students.
Last semester a bill requiring senators to hold mandatory office hours was struck down.
Ulloa said that even if there isn’t any current legislation that dictates that office hours must be held he and his two other team members will nonetheless hold them for students who wish to speak with them if they are elected.
Carbajal hopes to be able to hold town hall meetings for the University community, all in order to provide students the opportunity to directly speak to their representatives in an effort to tell them what change they wish to see in the University. The goal for these meetings is to give students and their representatives a chance to come to a consensus about what should be done about the issues affecting them.
Speaking in regards to the setbacks of starting a new political party within the University, Ulloa and Carbajal admitted that their small size is the only setback, as they don’t have many other organizations supporting them.
“We’re not here for our Greek organizations, we’re not here for personal resume building,” Ulloa said. “We’re here for you as the students because we really care.”
Ulloa added that, like the FIYou party, the Whisker party wishes to forward efforts to provide more study space for students on campus.
The Whisker party also hopes to address the issue of involvement within the Engineering Center, as some students have approached its members saying that SGA doesn’t do much within the Center. It also wants to install lamp posts in poorly lit areas on campus, considering that it’s an issue that students have called out to the party’s members.
Ulloa has one other concern.
According to him, the SGA-MMC statutes declare that Senate meetings must be recorded, and the recording are to be published for student access.
At the moment, no recordings are available, and Ulloa wants to work with the Graham Center in order to ensure that meetings are recorded and published to ensure the accountability his party advocates.