With the 2018-2019 academic year beginning, newly-elected Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Jasmin Fashami outlined her administration’s plans to address a variety of issues on campus.
Fashami sat down with Poly this Week where she was asked what students should expect from ASI this year. She discussed plans to tackle issues of diversity, plans to improve city-campus relations, and the Opportunity Grant Fee, all while keeping her campaign promise of empowering student voices. But one of her main focuses this quarter will be encouraging students to get out and vote in this year’s midterm elections. Fashami’s platform, ACT, stood for “Access to a voice, Creating initiative, Together as one community.”
“Last year when I was campaigning, I ran on the ACT platform, and it was all about empowering student voices,” Fashami said. “One of my first initiatives is actually voter registration and civic engagement through our ‘Flex Your Rights’ initiatives.”
The Flex Your Right initiative registered more than 3,000 students to vote in 2016. This year, Fashami’s new goal is to register 6,000 students, keeping with the theme of empowering student voices. She said she hopes students will realize the large impact Cal Poly students can have on local elections.
“I’m from Orange County and in a much bigger city, you know, sometimes one vote might not seem like it makes all that difference,” Fashami said. “But here in [San Luis Obispo], actually two years ago, when the mayor was voted in, it was just over 40 votes. That’s because the students came forward and pushed their voices out into local government.”
When it comes to city and campus relationships, Fashami has a strong connection with the mayor and the City Council after being part of the Student Community Liaison Committee. This committee meets once a month with city leaders and local community members to address each others’ needs.
“One of my goals this year, since we have really big elections happening in the city, is to meet with every single candidate for City Council and for mayor just to form those really positive relationships right off the bat,” Fashami said.
She wants to put forward a positive image of Cal Poly so whoever wins the elections will have a positive image of the university going into office.
Cal Poly’s image was in national and international headlines Spring 2018 after a student was allegedly seen in blackface, which ignited a debate about diversity and inclusivity on campus. This incident impacted the ASI election, where students overwhelmingly voted for Fashami, who campaigned to help fix issues of diversity on campus.
The Board of Directors allocated $15,000 to social justice program funding. Any organization on campus from clubs to departments can apply for up to $2,500 for any event that will educate Cal Poly on issues of diversity and inclusion.
The secretary of diversity and inclusion, who works under Fashami, is focusing on educational campaigns. Fashami said one month will be called “The month of We,” which will focus on educating issues of campus tolerance and microaggressions.
Finally, Fashami touched on the recently approved Cal Poly Opportunity Grant (CPOG) and Opportunity Fee (CPOF). Last year, University President Jeffrey Armstrong went to ASI with a proposal to add a fee for out-of-state students to help fund scholarships for low-income California students. ASI turned down Armstrong’s original proposal, but after some revisions and suggestions from ASI, he was able to get the California State University Chancellor to sign off on the fee.
“One of the aspects that was changed was this would only be affecting undergraduate students rather than graduate students because of the cost of living,” Fashami said.
When it comes to funding, Armstrong created a flat rate students would be charged instead of increasing the fee over time. The money from this fee will help as many as 3,000 new students who are admitted into Cal Poly each year.
“I’m really hoping that not just giving scholarships to bring students in, but providing the resources to stay here and feel included and part of this campus,” Fashami said.
Correction: This story incorrectly stated Fashami’s cabinet allocated $15,000 to social justice funding. It has been updated.