Three candidates are campaigning to be the 2019-2020 Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president. The president represents the Cal Poly student body and works closely with university administration.
Journalism freshman Alex Bires is running for president while finishing his first year at Cal Poly.
“I wanted to be ambitious my freshman year, and I wanted to do something that really could implement change in the Cal Poly community,” Bires said. “Being a first year gives me a fresh perspective, and I’m coming in with no bias.”
Bires is originally from Marin County. He said he is studying journalism at Cal Poly because of his interest in sports broadcasting. He is a member of the Ultimate Frisbee Club and enjoys watching and participating in various sports alongside his passion for student government.
“I think as a first-year student, if I’m elected president, will provide a precedent for next year’s first-year students that they can effect change right away at Cal Poly,” Bires said. “They don’t have to wait until they’re a second- or third-year to make things happen and if they have an idea or something that will bring positive change in their community. I think it’s valuable that they step forward and take responsibility.”
Bires said he wants to focus on increasing funding for clubs, improving diversity and inclusion initiatives and working with administration on things that really matter to students.
To increase club funding, Bires said he plans to add corporate sponsorships to ASI’s budget to bring in extra revenue and allocate more to Cal Poly services.
“I think [clubs] cater to everybody, and it’s a real shame that some people aren’t able to find their place within a club,” Bires said. “Finding ways to raise club funding will increase those retention numbers and getting people to join clubs and find their place at Cal Poly.”
Bires said he wants to make sure all students are represented and have access to foods that cater to all groups in the dining complexes. He also wants to increase the amount of cross-cultural events and multi-college events to foster a sense of community among the whole university.
Prioritizing the needs of students is at the top of Bires list, and he said he wants to start by updating the technology behind the student portal to improve its speed and connection issues.
“I am a fresh perspective for Cal Poly, and I’m not tainted by government bureaucracy,” Bires said. “I’m going to come in and do what’s right for the students and make positive change for all of Cal Poly.”
Environmental management and protection junior Mark Borges said the opportunity to create positive change on campus is what motivated him to join student government.
“Both of my parents went here, so I have a vested interest in Cal Poly,” Borges said. “I knew people on student government coming [to Cal Poly] and saw the positive change they brought on campus, and it was sort of like candy — I wanted that.”
Borges has the most student government experience out of the three presidential candidates. He currently serves as chair of the ASI Board of Directors and also served on the board last year as a representing member for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES).
Student government work takes up a lot of Borges’ time; on most weekday nights he is in his University Union office until midnight or 1 a.m. However, Borges said he prefers keeping busy.
“I could have an easy senior year and go to the beach everyday and not care as much. However, that’s not me,” Borges said. “I really feel like a lot of my strengths tailor to these type of leadership roles.”
Borges’ platform focuses on improving four areas of campus life: health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and empowerment of student voices. If elected, he said he hopes to help increase resources and opportunities for undocumented students and help protect sexual assault survivors’ rights.
Borges said most of the ASI president’s work is done behind the scenes, working with administration. As a current member of ASI, Borges said he has already built relationships with administrators.
“One could say, ‘Oh, he has formed relationships, he’s not willing to have tough conversations with them,’ and that’s just not true,” Borges said. “I’ve met with administrators this year and always make sure to put the student perspective at the forefront of conversations and say ‘This is what needs to be worked on.’ If I have something I need to say, I’m going to say it.”
Communication studies sophomore Henry Broback became interested in government work in high school.
“My passion for working with education stems from back in high school. I started working with state legislatures and superintendents to create a more equal education for everybody,” Broback said. “We saw some great results from the committees I worked on, and I want to continue that work.”
Broback is from Chaska, Minnesota and currently works as the Vice President of Sales for VeriPic and serves as a College of Liberal Arts (CLA) ambassador. Last academic year he served as residence hall president for Trinity Hall and was a Week Of Welcome (WOW) leader in Fall 2019.
“As an orientation leader, I had the opportunity to provide incoming students with their first impressions of the Mustang community, giving them the sense of belonging I’d like to see every Mustang feel,” Broback said.
Broback’s platform consists of three main pillars: career readiness, zero waste and cultivating a message and Cal Poly culture that gives everyone an equal amount of excitement coming in. To promote career readiness, Broback said he wants to bring more professionals on campus with panels run for students to build confidence going out into the workplace. In following Cal Poly’s commitment to sustainability, Broback said he wants to push for either a corn-based or soy-based silverware system instead of plastic. Finally, Broback said he wants to focus on promoting a culture that brings everyone to the same level of excitement when they come to Cal Poly.
“Not everybody comes from the same background or has the same feeling when they come to Cal Poly,” Broback said. “I think ASI can do a good job at making headway and [making] sure every student, regardless of their background and regardless of how diverse our campus is, has the same excitement and feeling of belonging when they do come here.”
Broback said these are just a few of the options he is looking at to implement change on Cal Poly’s campus.
“One thing that I want voters to know is regardless of what happens with the election, I’m very accessible,” Broback said. “If somebody has a change they’d like to see, I’d like to help make those changes.”