The three Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) 2019-2020 presidential candidates met at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 18, in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU) Plaza to advocate their platforms and debate campus issues.

The presidential candidates are environmental management and protection junior Mark Borges, communication studies sophomore Henry Broback and journalism freshman Alex Bires.

Here is how the candidates responded to five main issues.

Approach to presidency and general platform

Broback said his platform focuses on increasing career readiness, transitioning to zero waste and improving community oneness. In line with his zero waste values, his presidential campaign is completely paper- and plastic-free.

Bires said that as a freshman candidate with no experience in student government, he offers a fresh perspective. His platform focuses on increasing club funding, collaborating with administration to improve Campus Dining options and building relationships within the Cal Poly community.

Borges said his decision to run for ASI president has been three years in the making. He is the only candidate with prior student government experience and currently serves as the ASI Board of Directors Chair. His platform focuses on improving four main areas of campus life: health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and student voices.

Fostering inclusivity on Cal Poly’s campus

Bires said he wants to work with Campus Dining to create more services that cater to minorities. He said the new Vista Grande dining complex should have both local and national food sources that all students can enjoy.

Broback said he is not afraid to acknowledge, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” If elected, he plans to form task forces with cultural groups on campus to help understand what makes different students feel welcome or unwelcome at Cal Poly. Broback said he wants to host discussions that help connect the student body, instead of further polarizing it.

Borges said he believes some marginalized students lack the resources needed to have a full Mustang experience. He said that if elected, he would look into creating a stipend program for undocumented students without social security numbers, who currently cannot hold campus jobs. Borges also said he would push for data transparency in the Cal Poly Experience survey to help identify where resources should go.  

Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

What the candidates believe are major issues facing students

Borges said he thinks protecting sexual assault survivor rights under state and federal Title IX changes needs to be a top priority. He also stated his support for the Clapback and survivors who are choosing to speak up about issues on campus.

Bires said he thinks rising fees for ASI need to be addressed. He said corporate sponsorships could help ease student fees and perhaps even decrease current fees paid.

Borges offered a rebuttal to Bires’ statement, correctly stating that ASI fees have not been increased the past few years. He also said he is wary of corporate sponsorship, as most sponsors have a specific way they want donated money to be spent.

Broback said he is concerned with the increasing student body and lack of adequate facilities, specifically for students in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). He said he would like to work on improving facilities and helping ensure all students have equal access to quality education.

Transportation and safety on campus

Broback said he would like to work on alternative modes of transportation, as there is a lack of both efficient public transport and parking structures. For safety, Broback said he is in support of the University Police Department’s (UPD) use of body cameras and wants to take steps toward expanding police documentation.

Bires said he wants to make sure working bike pumps are available around campus and that students who bike from Poly Canyon Village have better biking infrastructure. For safety, he said he would like to see less UPD officers during the day. Bires said that while police are helping to protect students, they might make some students feel threatened and occasionally hold too watchful an eye over campus.

Borges said bike infrastructure on campus is not sufficient and should be improved. He said student government leaders should push alternative modes of transportation such as carpool and rideshare and cited current ASI president Jasmin Fashami’s efforts toward creating a carpool and rideshare app for students. For safety, he said he would like to expand current resources such as the escort vans and encourage increased transparency with UPD.

Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

View on administration’s efforts to improve campus climate

Borges said he believes the Cal Poly Experience (CPX) survey was pushed on students faster than it should have been. He said he believes climate surveys are beneficial, but the way administration is promoting this survey is inefficient. Despite the survey’s approach, Borges said he is interested in seeing the results and will push for data transparency without compromising student identities. He said it would be premature to assess administration’s success with the survey, as the most crucial aspect is how the survey’s data will be implemented to create change on campus.

Bires said he supports the administration’s decision to bring in a third party to assess campus climate. He said the raw data should be released so that students can analyze the results themselves.

Broback said he supports the administration’s sentiment with the survey, but that nothing can replace face-to-face interactions and creating personal connections. He said his plan to create task forces with cultural groups will be a more personal way to collect anecdotal evidence about student experiences at Cal Poly.  

How to vote

Students can vote for the 2019-2020 ASI President on their Cal Poly portal or the ASI website from 9 a.m. April 24 until 9 a.m. April 25. To learn more about the three candidates, read their Mustang News bios.

There will be a candidate meet-and-greet Tuesday, April 23 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.

Video by Austin Linthicum & Connor McCarthy

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