Two candidates are running for Associated Students Inc. (ASI) President: Tess Loarie and Brian Kragh.
The ASI President has a number of responsibilities within ASI and the Cal Poly community. The ASI President appoints their own ASI Executive Cabinet to support and carry out the president’s priorities. The ASI President also acts as the official representative of ASI and the Cal Poly student body when interacting with Cal Poly’s administration and the general public, according to the ASI Website.
Within ASI, the president is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing all legislation passed by the Board of Directors and providing oversight for the annual ASI Student Government budget. The president is also a voting member of the ASI Business and Finance committee and has monthly meetings with members of the Cal Poly administration, including the university president, vice president of student affairs, and the provost. They also serve as the official student representative of ASI in CSU-wide committees, including the California State Student Association, Chamber of Commerce and Chancellor’s Office.
ASI elections will be open from Wednesday, April 21 at 9 a.m. through Thursday, April 22 at 9 a.m. During this time, Cal Poly students will have the opportunity to vote for their respective college’s Board of Director positions as well as the ASI President for the 2021-2022 academic year. Voting will take place on the ASI Website.
Winners will be announced Thursday, April 22 around 11 a.m. on the ASI website and social media channels.
Tess Loarie is a liberal arts and engineering studies junior, with minors in Dance and Religious Studies. She has served on the ASI Board of Directors for the College of Engineering for the past two years and is currently serving as the chair of the ASI Board of Directors this academic year.
Loarie has been vocal about her initial hesitation about running for ASI President and said this was due to her dislike of empty campaign promises and inauthentic self-promotions.
“Looking back at past [ASI] campaigns, I don’t think presidential candidates ever have ill intent when making really big promises, but it’s definitely not realistic,” Loarie said.
However, after considering the role she would have in representing the Cal Poly student body, the impact she could have on the ASI budget and how ASI prioritizes their funding, Loarie said she decided to move forward with her campaign for president.
Loarie said one of her major concerns was figuring out how to campaign in a “genuine and authentic” way to herself.
In hopes of answering this question, Loarie highlighted a number of top priorities she plans on addressing if elected.
Loarie said she is an advocate for ensuring Cal Poly students’ basic needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. She said she plans to utilize the position of ASI President to impact ASI’s budget and continue their work in financially supporting Cal Poly programs that assist students with food, housing, mental health and healthcare needs.
“If students don’t have their fundamental basics, how can we expect students to do anything else? How are they supposed to focus in classes? How are they supposed to build social interactions?” Loarie said. “So fundamentally, having accessible basic needs that actually support students is a huge issue.”
In her recent work as the ASI chair of the ASI Board of Directors, one of Loarie’s proudest accomplishments for her has been her work advocating for students’ basic needs through the board’s passing of a memorandum, funding the Cal Poly food pantry for the next three years.
If elected ASI President, she said she also plans to focus on “cultural competency,” or the ability to interact with students from diverse backgrounds, in a way that will integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into all aspects of Cal Poly.
“We need to come to a place of self-realization,” Loarie said. “That’s the key. You have to educate yourself, you have to learn and then you have to actually apply it and do better.”
She said she hopes to improve how Cal Poly’s student communities interact with one another and increase Cal Poly students’ cultural awareness education.
Loarie said she plans to tackle the process of transitioning back to in-person classes by communicating effectively with students to ensure student’s safety and mental well-being.
“When we’re talking about campus communication and changes, it’s important to utilize different modes of communication to talk with students,” Loarie said. “Because emails are great, but when you get 2000 emails a day, that’s not always something you’re gonna sit down and read.”
Brian Kragh is a political science junior with minors in city and regional planning and history.
Kragh said he was motivated to run for ASI President after becoming aware of the number of Cal Poly students suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he believes Cal Poly needs a student government that will advocate for tangible change to help Cal poly students thrive.
Kragh served on the ASI Board of Directors for the College of Liberal Arts during his sophomore year where he helped pass the endorsement for Bill A.B. 1460, which, starting in 2024, will require all students to take an ethnic studies course.
He said he hopes to shift the role of ASI President away from predominantly program-based to being more policy-based, willing to advocate for student-based policies.
“I want to create a team of experts in various topics of issues around the campus in order to help advocate for policies that would help students,” Kragh said.
A major priority of Kragh’s, if elected, would be to do more to support clubs by increasing club membership with the use of ASI social media, quickening the reimbursement possess and establishing a Secretary of Club Relations in the ASI Executive Cabinet.
“Clubs are the backbone of the student experience and as ASI we should do more to help support clubs,” Kragh said. “Whether it’s speeding reimbursements or featuring clubs on our social media pages, this support will help make it easier for club presidents and club treasures to be able to share their message and have support from ASI at the same time.”
Another of Kragh’s focuses is on diversity, equity and inclusion by reforming the partner school program to attract higher rates of historically marginalized students.
“There’s a lot of policies that don’t really attract students of colors [to Cal Poly], and there’s a lack of response to racist incidents on campus,” Kragh said.
To address these limitations on diversity, equity and inclusion, he said he plans on building student coalitions with vested interests.
Kragh said he hopes to help facilitate a smooth transition of Cal Poly students’ re-entrance back to campus in the fall by acting as a resource for new freshmen and continuing students to foster community bonding.
“COVID-19 has affected all of us in some way, whether we are on-campus or off-campus,” Kragh said. “I know there are many freshmen students, transfers and even grad students that have not received the full Cal Poly experience. So as ASI President, I want to be like a resource for them to outreach.”