If you live in Berkeley then it’s hard to miss the on-going hustle and bustle of campus life, and unless you have been living under a rock you should be aware that yes, it is that time of year again. Spring is in the air, flowers are starting to bloom, and as we all drag the white out from the back of our closets, here come the flyers and picket signs with them. It’s ASUC Election time!
Sproul steps are alive again! Surrounded by 78 Senatorial and 21 Executive Slate candidates sponsored by either Student Action, CalSERVE or a variety of independents, students that pass by are liable to be asked, “Can I walk with you and talk about my platforms for a bit?” Flyers are being passed around and platforms are being exercised and retold, but the question remains: do we really know our candidates?
With that in mind, I decided to sit down with CalSERVE senate candidate Mahana “Don’tcha Wanna” Barbadillo (#175), a 2nd year Public Health major and the official LGBT community-endorsed candidate, and talk about his platforms and inspiration to run for a seat in the ASUC.
So first thing’s first, let's talk about your platforms. If elected into the ASUC what do you want to accomplish?
As an ASUC senator, I want to unify the LGBTQ community here at Cal, improve our campus climate to be more tolerant and inclusive towards all students, and integrate the arts back into the larger Berkeley community. As the only candidate running under queer-related platforms, I feel it’s important to recognize and facilitate a sense of solidarity within the ASUC amongst not only the LGBTQ community, but all of Berkeley’s diverse student groups here on campus.
You seem to have quite a large following from the Queer and Ally community, what inspired you to get so involved and become a face for LGBT students?
When I came out during my freshman year, I found a wonderful group of friends in the Queer Straight Alliance. Since then, I’ve invested a great deal of time in various queer and ally spaces. However, I’ve realized that many queer students feel isolated from not only other communities but from each other. I would like to see more queer students identify with one another as well as feel welcomed and supported in all spaces.
With your schedule so busy from campaigning, how do you de-stress? What do you do for fun outside of all the flyering and debates?
I would not have survived campaigning without frequent visits to the RSF. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I work out for an hour or two and I’m good to go!
As with anyone, I have to ask, what’s your favorite thing to do here at Cal? Or favorite part about being here in Berkeley?
I do enjoy a busy life where my weekdays are scheduled with meetings, rehearsals, coffee breaks, studying, and homework. However, my favorite part about Berkeley is also being able to relax as I did when I lived in Hawaii. There is nothing that I’d rather do than lay out on my balcony, tan, and listen to music.
What was your worst or most embarrassing experience as a freshman in the dorms?
One night my roommate got too drunk and threw up all over the elevator. Trying to clean it up was pretty nasty. Then it smelled for the next day or so. At least now both of us can look back on it and laugh.
If you won the lottery, what are the first five things you would buy with the money (no shame now)?
1. I would first pay off my student loan interest
2. Buy my mom a new car (BMW)
3. Shopping spree at Whole Foods! Yum!
4. Personal Trainer at the RSF
5. A new iPhone 4S (mine was stolen :( )
What’s something you know you do different compared with most people? Any quirks you have that the rest of us don’t know about?
When I take naps I set my alarm to go off in 27 minutes... as strange as that sounds. It normally takes me 4 minutes to fall asleep, and 23 minutes is perfect to power through the rest of a long day! Yes, it is an odd number!
You’ve been involved with the arts and musical groups in the past and I’d love to know what your favorite song is and why? Is it because of the lyrics, or the memories associated with it, or is it merely the rhythm itself?
Gabriel Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine” is my favorite romantic piece to sing. Not to mention it’s in French! My first time singing “Cantique” was at the Disney Hall with LA Master Chorale. That moment will always have a special place in my musical memory.
It might sound clichéd, but looking back on your experiences thus far, do you regret any of the decisions you’ve made?
I try to live within the present as much as possible. With that said, I try to only look at the past as experiences that I’ve learned from - good or bad.
Given your recent experiences with Sproul-ing, tell me, if you’re given five minutes to make a first impression on someone, what are you hoping people take away from it? What qualities are you looking for people to see in you?
I love talking to people so I try to come off as approachable as possible. I’m always smiling, even behind my giant aviators. And the last thing I want people to perceive me as is a politician. I am a student, just like you.
And lastly, this is a fashion related blog, so what is your favorite article of clothing and why?
I try to keep it simple. I prefer wearing a tight v-necks with jeans. It’s light, easy, and still looks cute.
What about favorite designer or brand?
With the price tag? H&M or Gap. Without the price tag, J Crew or Express. I wouldn’t consider myself a fashion snob, but I do love clothes.
After getting to know Mahana a bit, I’ve realized just how passionate he (as I’m sure all the ASUC senate candidates are) is about his platforms and just about Cal in general. It’s astonishing to see the amount of effort all the candidates put into their campaigns, but I was also glad to get to know at least one of them outside of a Sproul setting and hopefully get a better insight to who they are as a person - not to mention their favorite coffee drink.
If you would like to learn more about Mahana’s campaign platforms you can visit the CalSERVE tent and grab a flyer or just look for the merve with the rainbow cape running along Sproul Steps and don’t forget to learn about all the candidates and vote from April 10th (today!) -12th either at a designated polling place on campus or online at election.asuc.org.