Student groups elect ASG VP for student activities

Parag Dharmavarapu

Source: Parag Dharmavarapu

Parag Dharmavarapu

Shane McKeon, Assistant Campus Editor

In the first direct election of an ASG vice president for student activities, student groups elected Weinberg junior Parag Dharmavarapu, the only candidate on the ballot, to the position Monday.

The vote follows Associated Student Government Senate’s decision to amend its constitution May 6. Before the amendment, nominees for the position were confirmed by Senate. Now, student groups are each allowed two votes to choose an officer.

Dharmavarapu, whom Senate confirmed in March before the amendment passed, stepped down voluntarily to run and said the vote was “symbolic.”

“For my specific position, because I am an advocate for student groups, it makes the most sense for me to gain the trust of those groups,” he told The Daily.

Dharmavarapu said he worked on the student activities committee for more than a year before being confirmed. He used to be co-president of the South Asian Student Alliance and previously served as its treasurer.

ASG President Noah Star proposed the amendment during his campaign.

“If you’re going be an advocate for a constituency, that constituency ought to have a say,” Star told The Daily.

Student groups voted online between 8 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday.

In the future, Star said, groups will consider potential officers at the Student Organization Symposium each Spring Quarter, following a two-week application period open to students both in and outside ASG.

The amendment, though, was passed only four days before this year’s symposium, held Sunday, so there was no two-week period.

Star said he and fellow ASG members stressed during the symposium and on social media that anyone could run for the position.

No one did, however, and the choice was between Dharmavarapu and “no confidence.”

But this year’s vote was important, Star said, because it sets a precedent that should make next year’s election more competitive.

“This will be set in stone,” he said. “You can think of this year as the first step in publicizing and outreach.”

During his campaign, Star, whose slogan was “Listen Then Lead,” stressed that student groups should play a larger role in ASG decision-making.

Weinberg junior Kevin Harris, a Dance Marathon co-chair, said he voted for Dharmavarapu.

“He definitely has the experience,” he said. “He’s been the president of a major student group, so he knows what it’s like to be in our shoes.”

Harris also said he is impressed by the projects Dharmavarapu wants to take on.

Dharmavarapu said he’s working to compile a student groups handbook, a centralized document containing information on ASG funding, event-planning and more.

Weinberg freshman Anna Radakrishnan, one of SASA’s current co-presidents, also noted Dharmavarapu’s “vision” and said it makes him a great vice president for student activities.

“He’s very easy to approach as a leader,” she said. “It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your title, in your position, but he doesn’t. It’s something I aspire to be. I would be happy with being half the leader he is.”

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