Bryan Cole / The Collegian
ASI president and new executive vice president discuss goals, changes for the spring semester
After appointing a new executive vice president, ASI has hit the ground running and the executives say they are ready for a spring semester full of changes.
Junior agriculture business major Jessica Sweeten was appointed to the position of executive vice president for ASI on January 21 and has been working hard alongside President Graham Wahlberg ever since.
Wahlberg and Sweeten said they feel that this semester will be one for the books, as they plan to implement a new shared governance model and work hard to make some desperately needed changes on the campus of Fresno State.
In an interview with The Collegian, Wahlberg and Sweeten laid out their plans for this spring and their zeal to actually get things accomplished.
The Collegian: First, briefly outline your plans for ASI this spring.
Wahlberg: We are most excited about our new plan to operate ASI using a shared governance model for our senators, instead of activity based. Shared governance essentially means that instead of expecting our senators to complete three activities throughout the school year, we are asking them to get involved in their school by meeting with the various individuals responsible for their appropriate areas.
Senators representing colleges will meet with their respective deans and faculty, while at-large senators will meet with their respective areas, for example the athletics senator will meet with the athletic director.
Sweeten: My plans for ASI are to continue to move toward a shared governance model. We are doing this by giving senators more direction in who they need to contact and what their role as a senator is.
I also plan on working with office staff to continue to work effectively as a good office should. I plan on sitting with Graham and members of Senate to discuss rejoining CSSA, and continue to work on our enormous to-do list.
The Collegian: How do you believe your position differs from that of past executives?
Wahlberg: I continue to treat my position as would any executive in the real business world.
Unfortunately, ethics, integrity and character have been absent in recent years and my one hope is that our efforts will help the public know that ASI is a business filled with integrity. I know that each expenditure is coming from student fees and I justify every decision I make by asking myself, â€œWould students agree with my decision?â€ If they wouldnâ€™t, I know that I cannot make that decision.
Sweeten: I believe that past executives have passed things verbally from team to team, which is fine, but our executive team is working to put things in writing and give more specific guidelines and expectations than what has been in the past.
We see the importance of having a paper trail and we want this to be shaped over the years to come.
The Collegian: What things have you heard students most concerned about and how will you best address or attempt to address these issues?
Wahlberg: I think right now everyone is worried about the state of California and with good reason. Students who have decided to pursue a higher education are wondering whether they will even get the chance if the state runs out of money. I know that there is little I can do to help students with this problem.
But one thing I will do is pursue lobbying efforts at the highest level possible. For Fresno State, this means joining the California State Student Association, or CSSA.
CSSA has the ability to lobby Sacramento in a way that no individual can because its collective efforts represent opinions of 400,000 CSU students.
Sweeten: There are so many issues facing students that it is a laundry list of tasks we hope to set out and change. Students are worried about fee increases, the state and nation’s economic hardships, parking and safety, textbook prices and availability of classes on this campus.
President Welty has reached out to students for their input on what we should do and students need to take this task seriously.
We need to continue to lobby in Sacramento and fight the legislatures on increasing fees for higher education.
The Collegian: Weâ€™ve heard that you want to focus not only on student fees, but on parking as well. How do you plan on addressing these issues?
Wahlberg: Parking is an interesting issue. Students, in my opinion, have a dilemma: do they prefer a large parking fee increase to support a parking structure or do they prefer to keep fees down and, in turn, keep the status quo?
I have strong opinions either way, and I leave this decision to the students.
I know I will support what they decide on the matter.
Sweeten: We need to work with President Welty on implementing a parking structure, but as an agriculturist I believe we need to go up and not out.
We need to do this in a way that will protect the land that students use to learn many things from.
The Collegian: How was it coming in at the middle of last semester, Graham?
Wahlberg: I am excited and sad at the same time. I know we have already accomplished so much but still have lots more to do too.
Unfortunately, I know I will not be able to return to my position for another term, so I know that my time here is limited.
The Collegian: Jessica, what was it like for you when you first heard that Campuzano resigned? How does it feel to be the new executive vice president?
Sweeten: I knew that it was a chance for me to run again for EVP and accomplish things that I have been working on and work with Graham on some of his ideas and mine.
I was sad to see Campuzano go, because I have been friends with her since high school in our FFA days, but was ready to seize the opportunity.
Being EVP is very new to me and Iâ€™m trying to take it all in. I have been with ASI for more than a year and a half and I have worked with past EVPs, but you do not truly understand it until you walk into that office your first day. I am so ready to work with this amazing executive team and our office staff to accomplish a lot in the coming months.
The Collegian: What is the most important issue facing Fresno State, if you had to pick one?
Wahlberg: The California budget issue.
Sweeten: The budget crisis. This is directly affecting every student at Fresno State.
The Collegian: Given that you both came into office relatively late, does either of you plan on running for reelection?
Wahlberg: Iâ€™m still up in the air, but I know that if I donâ€™t get a job now, I may never get one. Itâ€™s serious.
Iâ€™m construction management major and weâ€™ve never had problems like this for students getting jobs.
Our graduates always get jobs â€” like 99 percent â€” everyone gets a job.
But this last semester people actually didnâ€™t get jobs. I would love to run again, donâ€™t get me wrong, but unfortunately I donâ€™t think itâ€™s in the cards for me right now.
Sweeten: As a junior, the thought is definitely on my mind, but I have not made a decision yet.
I am first and foremost focused on the upcoming months and what I can do for the students.
That is my priority and running for office is secondary.