Professors, both current and past, and alumni want to both strive for office and inspire students to work for political change.
Gabriel Buelna, Chicano/a studies professor and CSUN alumnus, said the inspiration to run for state Assembly came from his daughter.
“Last week, while walking, my daughter asked why we were doing this,” Buelna said. “I answered, “Do you have a good life? She said ‘yes.’ She had clothes, a big house, (we) took vacations, she has food to eat, and her parents are with her. I asked her would (she) like others to have those things.”
Buelna said his daughter understood this, and the incident reminded him why he was campaigning for the state assembly.
“In my view, we don’t have a leadership that’s engaged,” Buelna said. “There’s economic and ethnic diversity,” he said. “Some people, if you ask them their interest, they will say film. Some will say safety, others education or open space, parks for children and for seniors it’s about medical coverage.”
Buelna isn’t the only CSUN alumnus running for state Assembly for the 40th assembly district, which encompasses Canoga Park, North Hills, Northridge, Reseda, Van Nuys, West Hills, Winnetka, Woodland Hills. Armineh Chelebian, who graduated from CSUN in 1984, said she found her flame for political office after she was asked to be campaign treasurer for the City of Glendale.
“The energy just came on me and I said ‘I’m running’,” she said.
Chelebian said she wants to look out for the best interest of her district, adding that one of her key interests is making sure education is a priority for the assembly.
“Education is important and my kids are a product of the Los Angeles Unified School District,” she said.
Chelebian said that there are seven Los Angeles school board members, which are considered part-time positions, that only pay about $24,000 a year, who are responsible with making the decisions that effect over 700,000 students and 77,000 employees.
“Yet do you know where 75 percent of their time is spent?” she asked. “On real estate issues.”
Chelebian posed a question that asked when do board members find time to improve education for the kids. She said college students are included in her definition of kids.
“I will absolutely be campaigning at CSUN,” she said. “I’m an alumni, my daughter goes there. I want to see that every dollar that can come back to the university can come back to improve the quality of education.”
Dominic Curran, a senior sociology major at CSUN, along with Charles Crittenden, a retired CSUN professor and a young man who preferred to be called ‘Anakin’, are members of the Green Party at CSUN who believe that students don’t seem to care as much about politics.
“It’s kind of apathetic, people are so busy and a lot don’t live on campus,” said Curran, regarding the political atmosphere.
Anakin said that he believes many people at CSUN could be apathetic because the university is known as a commuter school.
“(People) come to school, go to work, and then go home,” he said. ” Everybody is into their jobs.”
But the Green Party is still trying to get the word out they said.
“We hand out fliers and have movie screenings,” said Crittenden.
The group made sure that they weren’t mistaken as being associated with the Democratic Party, as they so often are.
“I think we are more pure than the Democratic Party. We are more shut-off to corporate interest,” Curran said.
All the members said that they got involved by attending a meeting, and they consider the party to be a third alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties.
But getting people to actually get involved here at CSUN remains a challenge said Anakin.
“I’m a signature gatherer, but a lot a people don’t care. I have to go to UCLA,” he said. “I thought this was a progressive school.”
OnTay Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.