District faculty and students work this election season

FA PAC interns campaigning for political movements. (Photo courtesy of Ali Rastegar)

FA PAC interns campaigning for political movements. (Photo courtesy of Ali Rastegar)

Autumn Alvarez

Faculty Association Political Action Committee, the continuous voice for district students and employees in this November’s general election season, is advocating for the propositions and candidates directly affecting student insecurities and available opportunities.

This collaboration of Foothill College and De Anza College students and faculty act as the political arm to the district’s Faculty Association. Through volunteer recruitment, presentations and phone banking, student interns of FA PAC have worked to campaign in support of state-wide legislation and local candidates, as well as provide information on community issues such as affordable housing and public safety. 

Student intern Ali Rastegar, 17, a dually enrolled high school and Foothill student, initially joined FA PAC to learn about their community’s needs and to become a voice for political change.

“Students need a voice. If their voices are not heard, their representatives will be oblivious to their needs,” Rastegar said. “They need to fight for the changes they want.”

According to Rastegar, the belief that one vote can create beneficial changes in local communities is the foundation of this group. To them, the bills being voted upon are make-or-break decisions for seeing tangible results.

Student intern from De Anza Isabel Caballero Teixeira, 25, biology major, says the biggest issues right now are finding housing for both students and teachers. 

According to Teixeira, Cupertino’s lack of affordable housing for all income levels jeopardizes the success of scholarly futures due to homelessness. In a recent survey, four out of ten De Anza students were found to be housing insecure, and 12% were homeless in the prior year. As a result, these individuals are left without adequate living and learning environments.

Teixeira said FA PAC’s efforts in areas like these are upheld in the policies that candidate for San Jose Mayor Cindy Chavez and Cupertino City Council J.R. Fruen defend. According to Teixeira, to support their campaigns is to, “rally behind forces for the community.”

FA PAC’s endorsements for these candidates come from a place of trust and dependability, according to Foothill student and FA PAC intern Anna Maria Mojo, 25, psychology major.

“(FA PAC is) for the people and by the people,” Mojo said.

The group’s seal of approval for both Chavez and Fruen comes from those candidates’ community-centered governance. According to FA PAC’s internship orientation presentation, Chavez rallies for students’ well-being and access to better education with her work on the Valley Transportation and CalTrain Boards. 

As a board member and Santa Clara Supervisor, Chavez said the most important thing her campaign is focused on is “the way we treat economic development.”

“It is an approach that takes into account every kind of level of income person,” said Chavez. “Often, policies focus on either the very wealthy or very poor but there are people all along that continuum that need us to think differently about economic development. Policies must reflect that we want people to be treated fairly on the job, get paid well, have access to health insurance and have a voice on the job.”

According to political science major and student intern Andrew Siegler, 42, as November’s election draws near, FA PAC has focused on encouraging voting within the community. To Siegler, through voting, community members can“be a part of the solution to getting the needs and wants of faculty and students.”

“There are a lot of issues that will affect students and it is imperative that they get involved,” Seigler said. “This next election is consequential.”