Chase Dean is a political science senior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
When I originally ran for the Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors, I had no real understanding of how much of an impact student government could have on the Cal Poly campus. During my tenure, we discussed various issues ranging from undocumented student resources to whether or not Cal Poly should supply free tampons in bathrooms. As a result of these discussions, the Cal Poly administration took note of student priorities. This was accomplished through resolutions that enabled students to voice their concerns on issues that regularly impact Cal Poly.
All students’ voices were heard by administration and other entities, despite not actively being involved in the conversations that took place among Board members.
The Board is composed of 28 voting student members who were elected to represent Cal Poly students. When these representatives propose a piece of legislation, such as a resolution or endorsement, it often begins with the phrase, “The ASI Board of Directors serves as the official voice of over 20,000 students at California Polytechnic State University.” This serves as a reminder that these directors speak for the collective student body. While students don’t all have the same opinion as their representative, the members of the board are expected to respect, listen to and reflect their constituents’ views on different subject matters.
The gravity of representing the student voice requires that every Cal Poly student hold the Board accountable for providing a reliable platform for student input.
The Board speaks for the student body just as any other democratically elected representative organization would. While they don’t literally speak for every student, they symbolically do so through their work. Not only do the directors set the stage for the issues, they also help expedite certain projects that administration might be working on.
If a resolution in support of a certain resource is passed and handed off to a member of the administration, that administrator will interpret the points discussed as holistic student opinion and will see the issue as a top student priority.
In addition to taking formal stances through legislation, some of these representatives also vote on where to allocate funding. This includes whether to renovate old classrooms or use student fees to hire new counselors for the counseling center.
However, it is important to keep in mind that certain funds are restricted to certain pots of money. In other words, student fees that would go to building a new University Union(UU)cannot go toward hiring more faculty.
It is of utmost importance that when candidates campaign during election season, students actually listen to what they are promising and what issues they seek to address instead of solely voting for people who give them food or happen to share membership in the same organization.
The Board is much more than simply a college associated student body: it is a student-run organization with tremendous potential to create real change.
It is imperative that students connect with their representatives and let it be known what issues matter to them. If issues such as parking or mental health resources are a concern for you, then get in contact with your representative to discuss possible solutions or even just to voice your concern. The Board host meetings on Wednesday evenings every other week beginning at 5:10 p.m. in UU-220. All students are welcome to watch or participate in open forum discussions in the first 15 minutes of the meeting.