Mustang News sat down with 2019-2020 Associated Students, Inc. President Mark Borges. Borges’ campaign focused on improving four main areas of campus life: health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and empowerment of student voices.
The responses in this interview have been edited for brevity and clarity.
What are you most excited for looking ahead to this new year?
I’m most excited for the opportunity to be an advocate for students. For example, I serve as a student representative on the Provost Search Committee along with Chairman for the ASI Board of Directors Rob Moore, and we’ve already had opportunities to ensure that they are somebody who ensures the success and values from the student perspective.
How do you plan on expanding ASI’s presence on campus?
We’ve adopted the slogan “Students for Success” for the entire year, because we truly are here on campus to accurately represent and continuously push the student experience in all levels of decision-making. I think what’s important for us to realize is that we are a group of about 40 students representing over 21,000, so we don’t have every perspective of every student within our program. We are continuously seeking out ways to better understand students.
What is one thing you learned from working with ASI President Jasmin Fashami last year that you want to apply this year in your own presidency?
I learned from Jasmin the opportunities that this position holds. I think a great example was Jasmin’s effort in registering voters and Civic engagement from last year.
Are you nervous about anything this year?
Oh my gosh, of course I’m nervous. I think that what I have learned in the past few years of doing this type of work and in just being a general student is that setting the expectation of perfection is unrealistic and sets people up for failure.
How do you plan on accomplishing your campaign goals in your presidency this year?
Some of the projects looking into the future that we are looking at in terms of sustainability include creating a space on campus for sustainability groups to collaborate across programs. Many people have referred to this as the Sustainability Hub. There’s one project in terms of diversity and inclusion … which is now being called the Strategic Diversity Leadership Institute. That plan and those efforts are going to be critical in ensuring that the money spent to hire and work with [PhD] Damon Williams and his team [will] turn into tangible change on campus and create a more inclusive campus for all students in terms of health and well-being.
A major priority this year for myself is going to be looking into efforts around bystander intervention. And while alcohol will not ever be completely eliminated from the student experience at Cal Poly, I do believe there are efforts we can make in creating a culture that actively wants to protect and look out for our fellow Mustangs. There’s so much work we can do in that and just empowering people to look out for not only their friends, but maybe also people they don’t know.
The last one is empowering student voices. There are two main projects in this category. The first is obviously our voter registration efforts, but also the follow through with our voter registration efforts, which is students actually voting. We just want to make sure students have all the knowledge they need to go out and actually exert their influence wherever they are registered to vote. We [are] creating some educational opportunities around what students can do if they’re unable to register to vote.
What is one thing that Cal Poly student should know about you?
That I’m here. I’m always willing to meet with students. I’ve been doing this work for the past three years now, it’s something that I’m so passionate about. And so I hope I’m seen as a vehicle for change on campus, and I want to continuously promote myself in that effort and just always be very receptive to student concerns.
How are you feeling about your leadership team this year?
Oh my gosh. I love my leadership team so much. We are the best of friends, I should say. I really don’t have much of a social life outside of student government. So I just make everybody in student government my best friends. And so I have enjoyed.