This is the second of three profiles on Associated Students Inc. presidential candidates. You can read the profile on Kelly Griggs in Monday’s issue and check back to mustangdaily.net on Wednesday for a profile of Jacob Alvarez.
Communication. Safety. Sustainability. These are a few of the issues at the top of the agenda for computer science graduate student and ASI presidential candidate Jon McElroy.
“I am running for ASI president because first off, I love Cal Poly, I love the campus,” McElroy said. “I think it’s a great school and I’m so glad I came here.”One of three candidates in the upcoming election, McElroy said he is looking forward to providing a fresh perspective on issues affecting his fellow students as well as representing their interests at the university and in San Luis Obispo.
Having spent four years at Cal Poly, McElroy said he’s dedicated to the local community. “I plan on living here after I graduate and I care about Cal Poly’s affiliation with the city; how we’re represented within the city.”
McElroy acknowledged that while he has little formal experience in student government, he said his fresh ideas and personal approach to problem solving will benefit the student body.
“I don’t think it requires two years of Board of Directors experience to really represent the students, to be the voice of the students,” he said. “Maybe I don’t know everything about the system, but that’s why I came to Cal Poly, to learn by doing.”
According to the tech-savvy candidate, a McElroy presidency would be characterized by effective communication and transparency, utilizing the Internet to address students’ concerns. A key component of that transparency would be posting information about ASI’s finances on his Web site, he said.
“The top issue every year is communication with students as an organizational leadership model,” he said. “What I want to do a little different is I want to really use the Web more to keep people as informed as I can … I got a hold of the budget for last year of UUAB and ASI and I’m going to put it up on the Web site. And I’m going to write up summary paragraphs or something, really trying to break (it) down. You know, what does this huge number sheet mean? Where is our money actually going?”
Considering the amount of construction that the campus will undergo next year, the changing bus schedules and poor lighting just outside of campus, another major issue McElroy wants to address is student safety.
“Safety is something that I really like to talk about,” he said. “Most guys feel safe, but a lot of the girls have told me that right off campus where a lot of people park their cars, when they’re walking back to their cars at night, there’s just not good lighting out there. I’m going to try to communicate with the city, you know, this is where we really need better lighting. That’s important.”
As ASI president, McElroy said he intends to put into practice Cal Poly’s pledge to create a greener campus.
“On the issue of sustainability, what I would like to see is the UU and the Rec Center moving away from paper and into more electronics: TV screens, putting everything online,” he said. “Paper is printed regularly in there and I think in the long run, it would be cheaper and more efficient to make everything electronic. It’s also easier to update; it just takes one person to put up a JPEG instead of printing out all this paper.”
“Another issue is jobs,” McElroy added. “Really supporting the number of jobs that are offered on campus through ASI and through the different organizations (like) the bookstore, campus dining. I think jobs are really important and I think they help people in their studies … Working 10 to 15 hours a week really helps with schoolwork because it gives you a little break and you’re getting something in return, you know, that work ethic. I want to work to increase job availability for students.”
McElroy also said that students’ access to healthy and inexpensive food on campus could be improved. “Really, food is a big issue. It’s just too expensive … It affects everyone and obviously the president has no direct authority to do anything, but to influence the administrators and campus dining and really bring in a student’s perspective of things I think would be helpful,” he said.
In preparation for the position, McElroy said he looks forward to working with current president Angela Kramer, whom he said represented the students’ voice well.
“I’ll tell you right now, Angela, out of all the presidents I’ve seen, has been the most vocal. The students know exactly what she thinks, they know exactly how she’s feeling and I think that’s great for her. I think she did a great job of communicating,” he said.
“That’s the kind of president I want to be: helpful and I want to be there for the students, I want to represent their concerns. This next year is going to be just a crazy year with the state budget, you know, we’re losing $2 million dollars and what’s happening with College Based Fees. Students should feel like they’re being represented by their president.”
The Santa Barbara native arrived in San Luis Obispo in 2005 after graduating from Dos Pueblos High in Goleta. During his senior year in high school McElroy also got a head start on higher education by attending community college. After earning his master’s degree, he said he plans to work in the computer sciences field and start his own software company.
Outside of college, McElroy spends time getting to know people in the community at the San Luis Obispo-based Mercy Church, a non-denominational Christian church he said has been “the driving force” behind his personal approach to tackling serious problems.
“I am very involved in my church and I really care about helping people out,” McElroy said. “I’ve worked with a lot of people to make good life decisions; to help them get off drugs and people who are alcoholic to make good life decisions about what they want to do, who they want to be. It’s been a great experience for me.”
McElroy added, “I lead a little group of guys and I’ve seen a lot of lives changed and it’s just amazing. When you really want to do something with your life, it changes a lot about why you do everything. When they have a vision for their lives and they just see, you know, there’s so much more they could do with their time and energy, it helps in every area of their life, including school work.”
McElroy also said he is confident that students will appreciate his one-on-one approach to student government and that he would dedicate himself to being readily available and easily accessible to students.
“I think I am absolutely going to bring a fresh voice into the ASI government. As a student who’s focused on school and work, I know what I want to hear. I know students want to know what’s going on and I know what it’s like to try to get that information because I had to prepare myself, you know? I can’t just go into this looking like a fool. I had to go online, I had to read about the bills, the referendums and get educated about all the issues … And I want to bring more understanding to those who want to know it,” he said.
Manufacturing engineering senior Chris Head, who has known McElroy since freshman year and is a co-manager of the campaign said, he is the ideal candidate for the position.
“I’ve known Jon the entire time he’s been at Cal Poly and he’s always been on top of getting stuff done,” Head said. “He’s really a natural leader and able to relate well with people … It’s not like he’s doing this to put it on his résumé and be the guy on stage. He just really wants to make a difference.”
“Jon wants to unite students with ASI,” he added. “Because there’s a group of about 40 people who are really involved in ASI, but outside of that group students are not really aware of what ASI does or what’s going on because that information is not easily accessible. It kind of has a club feel if you’re not already there.”
McElroy encourages students to visit his newly-launched Web site, calpolyjon.com, for updates on his campaign and information about his platforms.