The two Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) 2018-2019 presidential candidates met at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 19, in the University Union (UU) Plaza to discuss issues and advocate for their platform. Political science sophomore Jasmin Fashami and political science junior George Will were asked both pre-written and audience-submitted questions. Each candidate was given two minutes to respond to each question, as well as an optional 30-second rebuttal in response to their opponent’s statement. Here are some of the candidates responses to current issues on campus.
Fashami spoke first and started off the debate stressing the need for all student voices to be heard. She highlighted her role as the 2017-2018 ASI Student Secretary of Advocacy, where her responsibilities entail “listening to the student voice and making sure students understand what their rights are at the local and state level.” She also detailed her platform of ACT: A stands for access to a voice, C stands for create initiative and T stands for together as one community.
Will followed with a statement regarding the “critical point in our history” and how the campus “can choose to stay divided or choose to come together as a school to begin the difficult process of healing our university.” Detailing his platform designed to “unify the campus,” his main priorities will be school spirit, safety, connectivity, culture and innovation. He also stated three “concrete ideas” he has to improve the campus, including a stimulus package for safety, a quarterly assembly for students regarding the state of Cal Poly and a campus climate and safety committee.
Fashami said as a woman of color and first-generation immigrant to the United States, she strongly empathizes with the underrepresented communities on campus. However, she stressed she did not want to assume the experience of anyone on this campus, which is why she plans to take the time to listen to all voices. Fashami highlighted the importance of not just “throwing money” at a problem, but giving students the right resources for inclusion.
Will said his “tangible, concrete plan” for increasing diversity is the campus climate committee. This committee would be co-chaired by President Jeffrey Armstrong, ASI president, a member of Safer, a member of greek life and three members from multicultural organizations.
In a rebuttal, Fashami said that while the idea “sounds nice in theory,” “due to ASI bylaws, it is not possible to create a committee like this.” She also stated that just three individuals from multicultural organization was not enough, as “there are more than three cultures on this campus.”
Will responding by stating he understood the ASI bylaws and that “nothing is stopping us from forming a committee that focuses on building a better campus climate.”
Most pressing campus issue
Fashami said a sense of community is lacking at Cal Poly campus-wide. She hopes different organizations will begin to communicate with one another and partner up for more events. She also noted that diversity and inclusion are big problems on this campus. She believes that when organizations feel “empowered enough to work with others and to understand perspectives of minority students on campus” the campus will become more inclusive.
Will stated he believes the most pressing issue on campus is “groups on campus who do not feel safe.” He asserted his proposal of a stimulus safety package will provide “funding for sexual assault prevention, people of color safety and general student body safety.” He plans to get the funds from the ASI financial reserves, taking the money “out of the bank account and put it to work for the students.”
In a rebuttal, Fashami stated the ASI reserves has “are not up for the discretion of the ASI president to decide.” The Student Success committee must be in agreement with the president, which includes a representative vote from people of every college. She also stated it is important to remember that it is the administration’s job to make the students safe, not ASI which focuses on community building.
Will responded by saying he believes every member of the Board of Directors and every college will agree to the proposal. He also reiterated his point of view that, along with administration, it is the job of student leaders to bring safety to campus.
Will said as a member of greek life, he can affirm that members of greek life are devastated by recent events and are accepting of change. He stated that as ASI president he would be able to work from within greek life to create positive and effective change.
Fashami, who would like to see greek life continue, said that she “stands in solidarity” with the groups who were affected by recent activities within greek life and also supports the Interfraternity Council’s self-probation. However, she believes discrimination is a problem that extends beyond greek life, and the administration’s decision to suspend greek life does not address the campus-wide issue.
Fashami stated she is “very interested in working with groups on this campus who are passionate about sustainability.” She said this year ASI started a roundtable which works with student organizations who are taking strides to make Cal Poly a green campus, which she would like to continue.
Will stated his intent to work with a vendor to create Cal Poly Hydroflasks, which would increase sustainability and school spirit. He also would like to increase recycling competitions between dorms and work with facilities to ensure recycling bins are taken out regularly.
Fashami closed by recognizing her struggle of finding a community at Cal Poly during freshman year. She would like to see communities working together to understand one another and “create policies that are supportive of one another.” She said through ACT she will give access to a voice to underrepresented communities on campus who have been “hurt by administration for several years” and create a sense of community on campus. Through these changes, she believes “we can stand as a campus of 20,000 strong.”
Will closed by reiterating his three main plans: a student assembly, a Campus Climate committee and a Safety Stimulus package. He stated that “we cannot erase what has been done,” but that we can channel this energy into “creating a new Cal Poly community.” He called for “a renewal of unity, a renewal of spirit and change” on campus.
All Cal Poly students will be able to vote for the 2018-2019 ASI President via their Cal Poly portal or the ASI website starting April 25 at 9 a.m. through April 26 at 9 a.m.
There will be a meet-and-greet Tuesday, April 24 at 11 a.m. in the UU Plaza, where students will be able to speak with the presidential candidates and ASI Board of Directors candidates.
To watch the full debate, go to mustangnews.net