Since Brandon Souza rode his “Souza Palooza” campaign to victory last year and officially became the Associated Students Inc. president, he has been working to follow through with his running platform.
The agribusiness senior garnered 51.3 percent in a runoff vote and ran on a platform consisting of student academic success, safety on and off campus, campus-wide sustainability, improving ASI facilities and other ongoing campus issues.
Of these issues, Souza credits most of what he does to student feedback.
“Working with the university as part of a shared governance allows us to interact with a lot of different programs where there are open dialogues . a lot of the student feedback is part of our goals,” Souza said.
One of his big projects is “Live Action Graduation,” a system that creates a smoother transition for students attempting to graduate by cutting out miscommunications about class requirements and graduation evaluations.
Souza said there is a snag in the system with the online live-action version, but a system changeover is in the works to come out with a beta version.
“I will be testing the system out and the tangible results will be shown by the end of spring quarter,” Souza said.
Souza also started a marketing campaign to encourage students to use safe transportation when traveling to and from the downtown area thereby providing a sober ride program. Since ASI cannot buy taxi cabs, they have researched other university programs, such as UC Davis’s safe driving program.
The Pacific Beverage Company, a local distributor for Budweiser, donated $2,000 to the safe marketing campaign. ASI is asking students from the Orfalea College of Business to come up with an alternative marketing plan for safe transportation.
However, some upcoming sustainability issues challenge his goals to promote campus-wide sustainability, including the introduction of a Starbucks and the Rec Center expansion.
As a result of student feedback, Starbucks will replace Julian’s current location in the UU next fall. Another idea pushed by the needs of students was a proposed expansion to the Rec Center.
Now, the sustainability issue edges closer to Cal Poly with the introduction of Starbucks, one of the world’s largest waste producers, and the Rec Center referendum hinging on student votes in terms of not only being expanded, but also in an environmentally friendly way.
However, Souza said it will be difficult for the Rec Center to be built sustainably.
“ASI has a commitment to sustainability and is serving as a model to CSU system, but by tearing into a 15-year-old building, it is going to be hard for us to be sustainable and it might not be cost effective,” Souza said.
Souza said sustainable practices would cost more but did not rule out sustainable construction practices and materials completely.
“Building sustainable could pay off in the long run and pay for itself,” he said.
The expansion is proposed because of the increasing amount of students and lack of machines and space in the facility.
“I really do like the Rec Center idea; (the) school is only getting bigger,” Marin said.
Liberal studies freshman Sarah Wietbrock agreed.
“As long as we pay after it is completed, I’m fine with it,” said Wietbrock, who had just left the Rec Center after not finding a machine and noted that she wouldn’t mind paying the extra fees for a larger Rec Center.
Souza said he is working with the Empower Poly Coalition on solar panel installation to power the Rec Center pool, an effort that has been ongoing since he ran for office last spring.
Another important matter to Souza is safety. He talked about a problem with a crosswalk that leads to Spanos Stadium, and said there are not enough emergency blue light systems installed on campus. He thinks students should be able to stand at one blue light and see where the next one is.
“I want to install them in all future buildings and parking garages. Cerro Vista already has this, and Poly Canyon too, where there is a high resident traffic area,” Souza said.
“We have a very safe campus when it comes to student safety on and off campus. Students shouldn’t be scared.”
This year, ASI has also expanded The New York Times readers program so more students can pick up a national newspaper for free on campus.
Souza meets with and gives speeches to students, such as the freshmen Hall Council, on how he became president as well as his role at Cal Poly.
As one of the members of Hall Council, Wietbrock heard Souza speak earlier this year and said she is impressed by what Souza is doing for the school.
“Souza is a really good communicator and seems to work really hard at what he does,” Wietbrock said.
Souza has weekly, biweekly and monthly meetings with people ranging from Cal Poly President Warren Baker to ASI students to community members. One of those meetings each month is the Student Community Liaison Committee meeting held at City Hall.
“The Student Community Liaison Committee has created the San Luis Obispo Night with your Neighbors, keeping a good town and gown relationship, because things do pop up that affect our university’s image,” Souza said.
Cornel Morton, vice president for Student Affairs at Cal Poly who also sits on the SCLC with Souza, speaks highly of Souza’s actions as ASI president.
“Brandon came in with a realistic understanding related to issues, services, programs and shared government. He is a good listener who uses his leadership to attempt to build bridges on specific issues,” Morton said.
So far, as ASI president, Souza said he has no regrets and loves every minute of being in office.
Souza will graduate in spring and was offered jobs as a fundraiser for nonprofits, an employee at an agriculture finance firm and other Associated Students positions, all in San Luis Obispo and Fresno.
Some of the perks of being president include a driving a Toyota Highlander hybrid for ASI traveling, paid tuition for a year and priority registration.
Upcoming projects for Souza include driving to Sacramento to make a stand against legislation hurting the CSU system due to the state’s recent budget deficits.
“It’s encouraging because there are many different options purported to make a solution to allocating more funding to the college systems. We are now spending more on the education system, and for every dollar put into the system the state gets $4 in return,” Souza said.