Ryan Chartrand

Most students at Cal Poly have heard of Associated Students Inc., but are not clear about the purpose or influence the corporation has on campus. Who are these people trying to provide every student with “the ultimate college experience”?

Associated Students Inc., commonly known as ASI, is Cal Poly’s student government.

ASI is led by four students – Brandon Souza, Laura Baldwin, Tony Guntermann and Nicole Stromsness – on a mission to address the needs and concerns of all Cal Poly students.

“We are here for you. We are here to help you solve problems with campus, make campus better. We are here to help you get involved and to help your leadership. It’s a great organization. It really provides a lot of services to students,” said Guntermann, mechanical engineering senior and chair of the Board of Directors.

The Election Process

Souza ran for ASI president during spring quarter last year against Matt Taylor and Arvand Sabetian. Souza won in a run-off election against Matt Taylor with 51.3 percent of the vote.

“When I was running for president I had certain platform ideals that I ran on and I’m continuing to carry out those,” Souza said.

Baldwin was appointed by Souza to fill the position of chief of staff. Members of the Board of Directors elected Guntermann as chair and Stromsness was elected chair by the University Union Advisory Board.

The Branches

ASI is split into three groups: the Board of Directors, the University Union Advisory Board and the Executive Cabinet.

The Board of Directors is comprised of 25 student-elected representatives who deal with corporate issues and act as student advocates. The Board makes decisions on the budget, personnel matters and audits, but also works to create resolutions for issues on campus.

The University Union Advisory Board oversees the facilities that are paid for by ASI fees, including the University Union, Recreation Center and Sports Complex. This group of students is responsible for the addition of TVs on the cardio machines in the gym, the furniture in the UU and more.

The Executive Cabinet, overseen by Baldwin, is a group of seven students appointed by Souza and Baldwin to achieve Souza’s goals as ASI president.

“One of the things we are working really hard on this year is uniting the three branches of student government. In the past we’ve all been doing our own thing; no one really knows what’s going on in each branch,” said Baldwin, chief of staff and mathematics senior.

“We feel that if we can get the whole group together to work on things that we are passionate about, then we will be more effective and efficient in going out to the students.”

Plans for 2007-08

The main project being addressed this year by ASI is the potential expansion of the Recreation Center. This idea began last year when research was conducted on what students were most concerned about, said Souza, ASI president and ag business senior.

In February there will be a vote on whether students are willing to pay an increased fee to expand and renovate the Recreation Center.

Stromsness, chair of the University Union Advisory Board and civil engineering senior, said her main goal for this year is to educate students about the upcoming Recreation Center referendum.

“There was a referendum two years ago and it was massive,” she said. “I was a freshman at the time and people were really confused about it. I remember it would just be a ‘Yes’ campaign. This time it’s not going to be like that at all.”

Stromsness stressed the importance of making an informed decision and said ASI will provide the students with all the facts.

“It’s their money so they have that right. My goal will be to make sure that as many students clearly understand this issue as possible,” she said.

Sustainability on campus has also become a top concern for ASI. Cal Poly is looking to Sonoma State as a leader in promoting sustainability on campus. The recreation center at Sonoma State was renovated a few years ago and made completely sustainable, Stromsness said.

“In my and ASI’s commitment to sustainability, we continue to work on looking to ways that we can make not only ASI, but also the campus, sustainable and environmentally friendly,” Souza said.

Students for Students

ASI is a forum for students to voice concerns and give suggestions about issues affecting them on campus. Students are encouraged to take advantage of this resource to possibly bring about change at Cal Poly.

“I would hope that students can really have an open approach to us because we’re students too. We are bored in class. We go home every day. We put our pants on the same way. I just want students to know that we are just regular people and to come to us with concerns that they have,” Souza said.

The four leaders of ASI expressed a concern that some students find it harder to approach them because of their positions in student government.

“My door is always open. I’m a student too. I love what I’m doing, but I also love to be among the students. I really enjoy talking to students every chance I get,” Baldwin said.

ASI members are forced to balance their job, schoolwork and a personal life, all the while being advocates for students.

“Obviously school comes first, but you have to make sacrifices. It’s not like you have set hours for this job. It’s 24/7. You’re always thinking about it,” Guntermann said.

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