Yordanos Dejen, a junior studying Legal Studies at UC Berkeley, was recently elected Student Body President.
Dejen, a California native, is currently a senator on ASUC, the undergraduate student government at UC Berkeley. Last year, the Black student community and the CalSERVE (Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education) coalition endorsed Dejen to represent their interests in student government.
Dejen’s platform focused on improving student life and financial aid, as well as the campus climate.
Her election is “extremely important because it ensures the issues of the Black community at Cal will always be a priority in all spaces I am in,” Dejen said. “It also ensures that the Black community will always know what conversations are happening behind closed doors.”
In response to what Black students call a “hostile” and “racist” campus environment, they have held multiple protests in the past few months. The Black Student Union released a series of demands in February and continues to pressure Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to take action to improve the campus climate.
Dejen told the Post she will focus on holding campus administrators accountable and voicing those issues.
Dejen, who admires Angela Davis as a leader and a scholar, is the first Black woman on Cal’s student government in over five years.
She is also Cal’s first East African woman elected president. The first Black woman elected Student Body President was Roxanne Winston in 2009.
Students also elected Oakland native Alana Banks, another woman of color, to the ASUC Senate this month.
CalSERVE also successfully ran three other female students of color for executive candidates. The multicultural student coalition and political party emerged in the 1980s out of the South African anti-apartheid movement on campus, and student efforts to pressure the UC Regents to divest funding from the apartheid regime.