Cal Poly students can vote for Associated Student, Inc. (ASI) president and ASI Board of Directors this week. If more than 40 percent of students cast a vote on April 24, it will be the largest ASI voting turnout in the university’s history.
However, the majority of Cal Poly students do not vote in student government elections. Still, the percentage of students who vote in student government elections has been gradually increasing over the past 10 years, with voting spikes in 2011 and 2013.
Turnout in ASI Elections
ASI Recruitment and Elections Committee chair Maggie Cheung said she believes the voting turnout is relatively strong but that she wants to increase or at least maintain the percentage of voters.
“We have a big campaign to encourage students to vote,” Cheung said. “We’re putting up posters and flyers, running ads in Mustang News, threw the presidential debate and are having a booth up on voting day. So even for people who don’t think about student government on a day-to-day basis, it kind of gets put on their radar.”
Students are unsure of what ASI does
Mechanical engineering sophomore Tyler Jorgensen did not vote in the ASI elections last year and does not plan to vote this year.
“I honestly don’t know anything about these candidates, I just see the signs,” Jorgensen said. “I think I would feel more inclined to vote if I knew more about the people and ASI.”
Software engineering junior Daniel Heyde has voted in past ASI elections and plans to vote again this year, but said he is still uncertain of how student government affects campus.
“I already participate, but I think I would be more encouraged to participate if I knew exactly what my vote was going to do,” Heyde said. “Maybe if there was a nice explanation of each role while voting. I would like to have some sort of voice in the way things are at this school.”
What does student government actually do?
The ASI president and Board of Directors serve as the student body’s direct representatives to administration, staff and faculty for most campus policy. Current ASI president Jasmin Fashami said she believes it is important for students to vote to ensure student government members accurately reflect what the student body wants.
“The ASI president is constantly meeting with top administrators to talk about anything from Title IX changes to campus politics to changes in policy,” Fashami said. “Knowing who is representing you and where they stand is important, or you may get someone in office who will say something you disagree with.”
The ASI president is largely initiative-focused and strives to fulfill their platform. It can be difficult to track the work of ASI presidents, as many projects they undertake require multiple years and presidents before coming to fruition. In 2013, ASI president Jason Colombini laid the groundwork to turn Cal Poly from a dry to wet campus, which went into effect three years after his presidency.
The Board of Directors, which is made up of representatives from each college on campus, is legislative-focused. For example, the Board of Directors recently passed a resolution supportive of declining balance for campus dining next year, instead of the current meal credit system.
A lot of student government work happens behind the scenes. During winter quarter, Fashami said there was a big push among administrators to start enforcing parking seven days a week instead of the current five. Two student government members who sit on the Campus Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee were strongly against the proposal and advocated to keep five-day enforcement. In large part to the student members’ and Fashami’s involvement, the committee decided against seven-day enforcement.
“Student voices hold a lot of weight in these meetings,” Fashami said. “You need people in there who will stick up for you.”
How to vote
Students can vote for the 2019-2020 ASI President and Board of Directors on their Cal Poly portal or the ASI website from 9 a.m. April 24 until 9 a.m. April 25.