Loosely quoting Aristotle, U2’s Bono once said, “Politics is the art of possibility.” It’s a sublime quote by a rock star icon. Or maybe he’s a rock star iconoclast. In any case, I think he points to something inherently idealistic about the political process, and I often return to this quote during election seasons. Elections are a time for reevaluating the direction a group of people are heading—whether it’s a campus election or a political election. With this in mind and considering that ASI elections are coming up this next week, I began to ask myself some questions regarding the direction Cal Poly is headed and the possibilities before us.
What should the culture of the campus to look like in a year? What could be changed about the campus? Consider two of the most important issues Cal Poly has faced in the past two years.
Last year, the crops house incident swept the campus, with fury and apathy resting on the shoulders of students. We know that racism exists in America and right here on campus. But what can we do about it? What actions should be taken against those who take their retrograde opinions and allow them to metastasize into openly-threatening symbols of racism and hatred? The issue was rather quickly swept under the rug.
The California State University system has also been facing an ongoing battle over state budget cuts, which leads to increased class sizes and furloughs and will lead to fewer classes offered to students in the future, if this trend continues. The basic problem with the state budget is that they have too many programs under their fiscal care and not enough tax revenue. If we believe that the CSU and K-12 education should be fully funded, we need to raise taxes. The largest issue that the CSU faces, however, is advocating for the system to be fully funded. It also requires informing the campus about the issues facing the state and the CSU system. If students aren’t fully informed, they can’t make informed decisions when voting in state elections.
Based on these two issues, which Cal Poly has faced over the last two years, I think the underlying problem facing the campus is a lack of communication between the students, and ASI and the administration. In my criticism of communication, I am not referring to the spam e-mails that are sent when something big happens on campus. I’m referring to an exchange of ideas and active listening on the part of the administration and ASI government. We should have been better informed about why the funds to rebuild the University Union (UU) could not be allocated to academics, for example. It was an important issue to us, the students. (By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else think the UU looks the same? Except for the new red cement, of course.)
That’s why I’m pleased that Sarah Storelli appears to be the last woman standing in the campaign for ASI President. According to the Mustang Daily, Storelli said that she “plans to add a free speech hour to the weekly University Union hour to give students a chance to address growing issues on campus.”
A free speech hour is an excellent idea which would generate new ideas for solving problems like a lack of diversity on campus and to make sure that a diverse body of concerns and voices are heard–not swept under the rug or glossed over. Along with this free speech hour, I would suggest having a response time where some ASI representatives could respond to student concerns. This would really contribute to the health of our campus.
Sarah has experience in ASI and in clubs on campus, and her platform is also very broad. She hopes to encourage a student to run for City Council in order to bridge connections with the city of San Luis Obispo, so that Cal Poly will have an advocate in the city, for example. It’s a helpful idea considering the controversial “unruly gathering” ordinance which was recently passed. She will also continue the ASI government’s creation of a lobbying group to advocate for Cal Poly and the CSU system in Sacramento regarding the state budget.
I see Sarah’s platform as ultimately bridging various groups–like the city and San Luis Obispo, and the students and ASI–and creating a community here on campus. Free discourse, community, and bridging different viewpoints are definitely part of the future I would like to see here at Cal Poly, and they are also goals which our nation would be wise to adopt.