By Jackie Bueno
This year, the Restorative Justice blog is highlighting candidates from both Student Action and CalSERVE, to find out what their platforms are and why they’re running for ASUC Executive positions and ASUC Senate. This week, we’re highlighting Amir Wright, a sophomore at Cal. Amir is running for Senator with CalSERVE. The RJ Center wishes Amir nothing but the best of luck with his campaign!
*Title for identification purposes only*
To learn more about Amir’s campaign, click this link.
To learn more about CalSERVE, click this link.
To learn more about Amir’s running mate, Sarah, click this link.
To learn about the candidates from CalSERVE running for ASUC Exec, see these links:
Here’s our interview:
Jackie: Tell me about where you grew up.
Amir: That’s never an easy question. I was born in Santa Monica, California and stayed there until I was about three, then I moved to Maryland for about 10 years and back to LA in the eighth grade. In either case, I was with my family; I have four siblings plus my parents. In LA, it was the seven of us, plus our grandparents, so you know, it was crowded. (laughs)
I’m the second oldest, so I got to see my older brother grow up and go to school, so I knew I had some big shoes to fill. I think I did pretty well, because both my parents and my brother went to Howard University, and I got in, but I chose to go to Berkeley. After some jabs, they were proud of me.
Jackie: How was your experience growing up before you came to Cal?
Amir: My transition was a little different than most. I decided to accept an offer to do the Global Edge Program, so I graduated from high school and five days later I was here. I was taking summer classes, enrolled with Global Edge students, and during my first semester I was in London, so my transition was quite different. That being said though, it was easy for me to adjust to new environments, so it wasn’t stressful for me to adapt when I got back to campus.
Jackie: What motivates you to run for Senate?
Amir: In short, I want to drive change on campus and in the world, really. I want to see impactful things done. I think that being in Senate allows you to have a hand in this change. I hope to continue my work in financial aid, in CalSERVE, and the city to do some good. I take a certain sense of pride in seeing improvements in people’s lives knowing I had a role in it. I want to better students’ experience and livelihood on this campus.
Jackie: Why did you decide to run with CalSERVE?
Amir: So the Senator I work for is in CalSERVE, and I saw the CalSERVE values reflected in the work we were doing. CalSERVE represents my interests, and its values align more with mine more than running as an independent or with the other parties.
Jackie: What are your main platforms?
Amir: The first is Police Reform; working with the UCPD and reforming their role on campus. Right now, they don’t have the greatest reputation with students because of their excessive use of force. I want to work to make sure they serve as more of a peacekeeping resource rather than a threatening body.
Second is Housing Accessibility, which is where I have the most experience. I want to work with the City and the University to supply information to students on how to navigate off-campus housing, seeing what they can do as tenants and as inhabitants of the City. I also want to support City measures, galvanizing students’ and arming them with the knowledge to navigate the off-campus living system.
And the third one is Financial Aid Verification. My current role in the ASUC office revolves around this. For example, if you take out a student loan, the University puts you through sort of an auditing process, where they do background checks and verify that all your documents are up to date. But the problem is this process can take weeks. You’re sitting there waiting around 5-8 weeks, and you still need to pay off your books, rent, and food. So I’m working on streamlining that process now, and if I can’t do that, then I want to reform the emergency aid system, which is a start but it could be much better.
Jackie: What is your leadership philosophy?
Amir: Lead by example. I developed this through my roles on-campus and off-campus. I want to make sure students feel like they have a voice and have their voice heard. Students need to see that other students are doing the things that they didn’t think could be done.
Jackie: As a Black man, how do you think you will integrate your identity into your activism and leadership if elected?
Amir: So platforms wise, my housing and financial aid platforms don’t apply solely to Black spaces, they benefit almost every student, but the police reform platform is much more focused on our Black students and marginalized communities. A lot of Black students, for example, during Free Speech Week, didn’t feel safe, which is ironic because UCPD is supposed to protect us all. I want to be the voice of our identities.
It certainly affects where my interests lie and who I’m advocating for, who I support, and what I support. I definitely think the Black community needs more support in UC spaces. We’ve had Black Senators, sure, but I want to continue to ensure our voices are still heard.
Jackie: In a time where our nation is currently divided, what are you hoping to accomplish as Senator if elected, despite most students feeling divided on how to approach our current issues?
Amir: I don’t think this answer changes regardless of the state of our nation. No matter what we do, we still need to have conversations across party lines. I think we all need to work together, build relationships with others in my Senate class, and have conversations to reach common goals.
Jackie: How do you think RJ can help organizations on campus such as the ASUC resolve issues it faces?
Amir: Restorative Justice is the thing that mitigates conflict, solves issues. So for example, in Senate spaces, we have heated, politically charged discussion, but that’s where Restorative Justice can come in and work things out. It sounds cheesy, and some people think they’re above it, but it’s true. I do see the need for more Restorative Justice in spaces on campus.
Jackie: Anything else?
Amir: Letting the student body know I’m here to represent them, especially those without a voice and those that are marginalized. And vote. Even if they don’t vote for me, vote! (laughs) Vote for my running mate, Sarah, and our executive candidates such as Juniperangelica for President, Nuha for EAVP, and Rizza for AAVP.
Jackie Bueno is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Sociology. For further inquiries or if you would like to be featured, please contact her at email@example.com.