The Associated Students, Incorporated (ASI) presidential candidates and those running for the Board of Directors recently filed their applications to run for 2020-2021 positions.
In a few months, a new student government will be elected into office. So what exactly is ASI student government, and what do they do?
ASI student government is divided into three branches: the Executive Cabinet, the Board of Directors, and the University Union Advisory Board (UUAB). While they all collaborate on certain committees, the three branches also function independently and have distinct responsibilities.
The ASI president and their committee make up the Executive Cabinet. The president appoints their chief of staff, and then the two work together to appoint the rest of the Executive Cabinet. The president typically creates the positions they deem most relevant depending on what they are aiming to get accomplished.
The main responsibility of the Executive Cabinet is to carry out the platform of the president. Current ASI President Mark Borges ran on a platform of four pillars: sustainability, diversity and inclusivity, health and wellbeing and empowering student voices.
While the other two branches work on longer-term projects, the president focuses on what can be accomplished within the year they are in office.
“It’s a much quicker timeline,” Borges said. “Those are events and initiatives the ASI president is hoping to accomplish in one academic year. From a tangibility standpoint, that is really through events.”
The next branch of student government is the UUAB. The UUAB works largely with facility management and improvement, bringing proposals to the university administration that reflect the student body’s desired changes to the physical campus.
The UUAB undertakes projects that are long-term and are often passed on from one year’s committee to their successors. The process of planning and advocating for additions or changes to ASI facilities is a continuous process, according to the current UUAB chair Elizabeth Roseman.
“The UUAB is mostly behind the scenes,” Roseman said.
The UUAB provides input to projects like the renovations to Chumash Auditorium and adding an outdoor garden area to Mustang Station, but also to things like adjusting the policy at the Recreation Center. Their goal is to create spaces that are beneficial to students and suited to their needs.
While the ASI President and the Board of Directors are elected, the current year’s UUAB committee appoints the next year’s UUAB committee. Though the UUAB committee is entirely student-run, the nature of their responsibilities requires working closely with full-time university administration.
The final branch of ASI student government is the Board of Directors. They are intended to be the “official voice of the students.”
The Board of Directors creates bills reflecting what the student body wants altered or amended. When the Board of Directors passes a bill, it technically does not affect official university policy, but it acts as a strong recommendation for how exactly the administration can adjust the university’s policy.
There are three kinds of documents the Board of Directors deals with, according to Board of Directors Chair and political science junior Rob Moore.
The first, resolutions, essentially function to advise the university or even the City of San Luis Obispo on certain matters based on the student perspective.
Then there are endorsements, which voice ASI’s support for another bill or action – in the most recent case, ASI endorsed Proposition 13.
Lastly, there are bills, which amend official ASI bylaws. These, Moore said, have the greatest impact simply because they are a direct change to policy, unlike both resolutions and endorsements.
“I hope people stay engaged and vote in the election,” Moore said. “It’s important you elect people you think will execute good decisions.”
Holistically, the ASI student government acts as a liaison between the student body and University administration. Though at times there are disagreements between student government and administration, Borges said it is mostly a very communicative and productive system.
The campaigns for next year’s elected student government will begin in April. For more information on student government and important election dates, see the official ASI website.