Apr 25, 2019
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Who is next?


Photos Courtesy of ASI


The race to become Fresno States centennial president is underway. With elections only a day away, The Collegian sat down Saturday afternoon with each of the four Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) presidential candidates to discuss why the students should vote for them.

The candidates, current ASI Executive Vice President Alex Andreotti, ASI Chief of Staff Cole Rojewski, Senator for Resident Affairs Cody Madsen and Senator for Parking and Safety Pedro Ramirez. The Collegian asked the candidates a series of 16 questions that delved into their backgrounds and exposed their political ideologies.

The Collegian: Interview Questions

Photos Courtesy of ASI

Background information –
Name: Alex Andreotti
Age: 20
Major: Business Administration
Years in office if held:
Previous position in ASI if held: Executive Vice President, Senate Secretary and student assistant.
Are you a Smittcamper? No.

Questions

If elected, what would your first duty as student body president be?

My first duty as student body president would be to train, teach and lead the ASI members. My theory, and what I’ve learned throughout my time in ASI, is that before a team can actually work together, you need to get to know each other. And everyone needs to understand the responsibilities set forth in their positions. I feel that’s been lacking in the past few years. So, building that communication and building that teamwork, and essentially just bonding with each other, really needs to happen right off the bat, so that we can trust each other and lean on each other throughout the year.

If elected ASI President, what would you do to fight fee increases? Would you want to fight fee increases?

I definitely want to fight fee increases. I don’t advocate for fee increases. I feel the only way to fight increases is to speak out, and definitely speak out at a state level. We’ve had a lot of activism at the local level, which is a great start. But we need to take that activism and put it on the state level, because that’s where decisions are actually made. I feel the prime organization responsible for lobbying and for that activism should be our lobby core program. That’s one of my goals for development next year.

What is ASI supposed to do? How should it work ideally?

The whole purpose of ASI is to be student government on campus, and to provide important services to students. That is the overarching mission. ASI is interesting because it operates as a business and not as a government. I believe that it should be a collective and unified effort where 20 students work as a team and not as 20 individuals.

Will you be running on a slate with someone?

Yes, with Craig Parks for Vice President of Finance, and Selena Farnesi for Senator-at-large. We’ve all gotten along really well this past year. All of us have similar ideas, but different perspectives. Using those different perspectives has allowed us to bounce off of each other, and brainstorm different ideas on how to improve Fresno State. We just all work together really well, and I think that’s really important for ASI.

How do you plan to improve the line of communication between ASI and the student
population?

This year, we started using social media as an outlet to target students. I definitely want to continue that, because it’s just the line that communication is traveling. Definitely continue building the technology of our Web site, and any sort of streaming we do with meetings and connecting with students via the Internet, because that’s where a lot of students are nowadays, especially with everything being online. I also plan on going out and asking students their opinions. So, connecting with students, asking them what they feel about certain issues and just doing it. Whether it’s tabling, whether it’s just in the Free Speech Area, “How do you feel about this?” “Come sign up.” “Come fill out a survey.” Sending out surveys electronically, going out into classrooms and just informing students about ASI and what we do. There’s a lot of different mechanisms, but I guess the two main ones would be utilizing the Internet, and speaking to students one on one.

What have been some of your successes in your tenure with ASI? What have been some of
your failures?

As EVP, it’s a very internalized position. But what I did this year was to restructure how the position worked, making it more of a managerial position, and ensuring that the position leads and meets with senators, and understands what they’re doing. With the help of other senators, I’ve written a Senator Expectations Policy that defines what it takes to be a senator. The purpose of that was to put everything on paper. All the responsibilities of a senator, what is expected of a senator, what you need to do during office. The whole purpose was to put all of your responsibilities on paper. So, once you’re elected into office, I can hand you this sheet and you know exactly what to do. That was approved recently, and I was very happy about that. It streamlines the process. We’ve had a lot of problems with lack of communication and lack of understanding responsibilities. I spent six months revising our bylaws and policies. It’s been a long process, but it’s something that needed to be done. I’ve done a couple things to increase our visibility.
I wasn’t able to work on large-scale projects like I had hoped to. Just having some ideas for improving Fresno State, but the position that I’m in requires me to be a manager-type position to lead people to do what they want to do. I really enjoy that part, but I wasn’t able to make a large impact or do anything on a large scale, or implement any programs.

What makes you a better presidential candidate than your opponent?
What qualifies you to run for this position?

I’m a student and not necessarily a politician. I am outgoing, hard working and passionate. I’ve been in ASI for two years, and have seen that its internal world is completely different then people view it.


Parking at Fresno State has been a perpetual problem. If elected as ASI president, what would
you do to solve this dilemma?

There are already plans for building a parking structure, and I am personally a big supporter of the parking structure. So, my biggest thing would just be to continue fighting for a parking structure and ensuring that it happens sooner rather than later.

What US President would you compare yourself to?

I decided I would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). I just think he’s really cool. We’re kind of in the same times he was in: economic crisis and a lot of despair. I have a lot of plans to reform, restructure and re-communicate, and that’s kind of what he did with his New Deal. He was able to take what was going and make it better. That’s exactly the same route I’m planning on going.

Will you still serve on ASI if not elected as president? If so, in what capacity?

If not elected I plan on involving myself elsewhere on campus in the Craig School of business and in clubs and organizations that I am already apart of.

What do you think about the protesters? How would/will you handle them?

I love the activism on campus. I think it’s a strong idea. I think it is a good thing for this campus, because it’s showing that people are frustrated, and it’s showing we want to fight for something we believe in. Students should always be allowed to fight for something they believe in. I don’t think it’s a matter of “handling” them. It’s more a matter of figuring out how we can work together. There’s been a lot of questions in ASI of why aren’t we working with SQE and why aren’t we working with certain organizations. The answer is, we’ve tried. We’ve been successful in meeting a couple times, but most of the meetings just have been canceled or rescheduled, and then have never been attended to by both parties. It’s a matter of meeting, collaborating and building off each other’s strengths.

What do you think about the current administration? How would you fix it? What would you take away from it?

While I’m currently part of ASI’s administration, our biggest problem is a lack of communication. There has been a lot of miscommunication internally. It’s been a big problem; not everyone’s on the same page. We really need to do better in ensuring everyone’s on the same page within that office. If one person’s doing a project and another person realizes that’s a bad idea, sometimes that person will never tell the other person. Everything can get lost in translation, and it’s a huge mess. I would take away from it, learning how to communicate better for next year. Fresno State’s administration: honestly, I think they’ve done well, despite circumstances. It’s been a hard year for everyone, and I am not a person to judge someone else’s position, because I don’t know what they’re doing. For example, Dr. Welty has a hard job and I don’t know what he does on a daily basis. I respect him for everything he does. There may or may not be things I disagree with, but I think that he’s doing well despite the circumstances. That’s all we can ask for.

How do you plan to live up to the Shared Governance model? Do you think it has been
upheld thus far?

Yes. So far, we’ve appointed about 126 students to campuswide committees, furthering that shared governance model. I am a supporter of shared governance, just because it allows representation for students. It allows students to be part of the decision-making process – something that’s important, that Fresno State needs. Our personnel committee has done a really good job this year in streamlining the process and writing applications, informing students on how to sit on a committee, what it takes. But there’s still a few kinks that need to be worked out. The biggest one probably being attracting students and recruiting students. So, one thing that needs to be fixed is promoting it and advertising it. Showing students that this is what we’re doing.

Are there any brand new programs on campus you would like to start? If so, what?

I’m definitely attracted to increasing the safety on campus. So, doing something over by the Bulldog Stadium and all the Greek housing. I know they’re working on the west end project. There are ideas for reformation in the next 20 years. Right now, just ensuring that we can have police escorts in that area, not just strictly for campus. I love the idea of a recycling program. I know that was cut this past year, but we want to be environmentally friendly and environmentally clean. It’s just as easy as putting recycling bins out on campus to ensure everyone recycles. Promoting our rideshare program. Fresno State already has a rideshare program implemented, and I just feel it’s not as expansive as it could be. There’s been a lot of complaints about parking, and that’s a huge issue. But if we’re able to further advertise and maybe make incentives for the rideshare program, I feel more people would take advantage of it. So, I would really like to build upon an existing program, rather than starting a new one from scratch.

How do you feel about Fresno State being a dues paying member of CSSA? Do you think it is important for Fresno State to be a part of this lobbying group?

I definitely think it’s important, for Fresno State to be a part of CSSA. The organization has expanded and changed a lot throughout the past couple years. It’s become a very effective organization. CSSA allows Fresno State to be represented on the state level, and allows us to come forward with our opinions and our ideas. So, having CSSA as an outlet has been really good for our university. It just gives us the opportunity to go to Sacramento and participate in the different activities.

– How has it been successful? I guess it’s been kind of a rebuilding year, but they’re starting a whole campaign of “Made in the CSU.” How all the CSUs have been instrumental in the jobs in California. The CSUs and the community colleges are partnering for the march on Monday. CSSA was in support of the day of action.

Instructionally related activities funding is broken down into eight parts: Performance, athletics, radio/television, art, drama production, publications, forensics and others. Athletics receives the largest portion of the funding, following a 2007 referendum that saw funding for intercollegiate athletics merge with funding for student clubs and organizations. Likewise, funding for clubs and organizations was reduced by half this year. As the potential chair of the IRA committee, do you think that this is a responsible use of IRA funding? How do you think IRA funding should be allocated?

I think IRA has been very successful. I think it should go toward the areas that need it most, but also toward the programs and events that enhance the college experience. Whether that’s athletics, clubs and organizations, programs, departments or anyone. Anything to enhance the college experience, which is the whole motto behind IRA. I’m a big supporter of hands-on learning. I think that’s exactly what IRA does, so I’m a big supporter of the funding students can receive from that.


Photos Courtesy of ASI

The Collegian: Interview Questions

Background information –
Name: Cole Rojewski
Age: 21
Major: Political science
Years in office if held: 8 months
Previous position in ASI if held: Chief of Staff
Are you a member of the Smittcamp Honors College? No

Questions

If elected, what would your first duty as student body president be?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one duty, but I would help restructure ASI. The structure that we have on paper would work. It is not being implemented as of right now. There is a lack of communication. A lack of structure itself, from the committee up to the senate.

If elected ASI President, what would you do to fight fee increases? Would you want to fight fee increases?

Fee increases have definitely impacted students. They’re going to go up 10 percent regardless, because of what the California State University Board of Trustees have said and what’s in [Gov. Schwarzenegger’s] budget for the next eight years. What we can do is put caps on those increases. That’s why I am a huge supporter of the student reductions act. That would put a cap on fee increases and give a 180-day waiting period before they can be implemented. For students, I think that is essential. We also need to lobby. It is essential for us to do that, although it is not being done effectively right now at Fresno State and through our state representatives CSSA. What can be done? Trips to the capitol, meeting with legislators, the postcard campaign and the bus trip we have planned to Sacramento.

What is ASI supposed to do? How should it work ideally?

Ideally, ASI should represent the students. We’re not here to represent just our personal opinions were here to represent every student on campus holistically. We’re here to support organizations. Some of our organizations do amazing things like all of the philanthropic efforts at the Greek houses. Our fishing club won the state championship. Our multicultural center has great diversity trainings. But they don’t receive support. ASI needs to have that connection to students and that’s what it lacks right now. Students are elected to the senate and they are supposed to represent their student constituency. They’re supposed to represent them, and bring their opinions back to the committees. Right now, it’s just a few people jamming a bunch of information down people’s throats. And students aren’t being heard, and senators are voting not how they truly believe, but how their friends on the senate are voting. That’s wrong. I see the potential and what it can be.

Will you be running on a slate with someone?

Ag Business major Kirby Jordan for vice president of finance

How do you plan to improve the line of communication between ASI and the student
population?

We need to get out there with the students. I think it’s ridiculous how students always have to come to us. We should be going to them to ask their opinions. Something [current ASI President Jessica Sweeten] and I started this year was an information campaign where we went out visit with groups of students. We focused on groups, because it’s the easiest way to reach [students] when they are all together. Just being visible We spoke with The Awana club, Greek organizations and the honors fraternity for agricultural business to hear what they have to say. Some of the concerns have been shocking, and some we have never even heard of. I hate being in the ASI office. The leadership office is very successful and they always have a great turnout for their events. We need to take a page from their notebook. Student government is supposed to be fun and proactive to help create an environment for students to succeed.

What have been some of your successes in your tenure with ASI? What have been some of
your failures?

My greatest success and my greatest frustration has been the student protection act. Jeff Denham approached me about. Since I am president of the Republican Club, he wanted some support from students. I said no and told him that this needs to go to ASI. So, we brought him to campus and have been working closely with him and CSSA. Unfortunately, the resolution failed to pass at the last CSSA meeting. But, I got to go to CSSA and argue about why we need to do this. It was received very well, but it was a step in the right direction to actually fight for what students want.

Failures: The lack of process within ASI. ASI does not function as it’s meant to be. Students’ voices weren’t actually being heard, because some students in the senate have radical views that were being dismissed. They were being portrayed in the right way. It’s become this stuffy atmosphere that is no longer a student organization. My failure in that was not being able to change it in the position I have currently. My frustration is watching people be content with it. Another failure would be the [March 22] bus trip to Sacramento. That’s on me, it didn’t work out very well.

What makes you a better presidential candidate than your opponent?
What qualifies you to run for this position?

I’m not afraid to step on a few toes, make people a little angry and tell it how it is. I’m not afraid to go out there and be with the students. I think that I have had the opportunity to learn as much as I have about ASI only being there for eight months. I feel like I have the opportunity to really make a difference and shake up this organization from the ground up to try and change it. People need to be called out for the things that they aren’t doing, and given a little kick in the butt. I am a true student who loves this campus. I love the students, our atmosphere and our struggles. And, I want to make it better. What I have learned this year has prepared me to go into a leadership role in ASI so I can make these differences.

Parking at Fresno State has been a perpetual problem. If elected as ASI president, what would
you do to solve this dilemma?

I’m one of those people [who complain about parking]. The parking structure is scheduled to be built by 2012. Will that solve the problem? I don’t know. It’s a large issue, but I think that it is a little over talked about right now. I advocate for building the parking structure.

What US President would you compare yourself to?

I’d say George W. Bush. I like his personality. He got stuff done and said it straight. But, I’m president of the Republican Clubs so that cuts the list to half of the presidents.

Will you still serve on ASI if not elected as president? If so, in what capacity?

I would like to [serve on ASI] in some capacity. I don’t know if the opportunity will be there. I would like to, because I love this campus and would do anything for it. A senator position would be nice, depending on who would have me on board.

What do you think about the protesters? How would/will you handle them?

It depends on the type of protest and whether I am approached or not. I might be a part of it. I wouldn’t have minded being on the panel with President John Welty out in the Peace Garden. Depending on the situation, I might not want to be involved with the protests, but I would go out there and listen. I’ve attended almost every one when other ASI people haven’t. I think that it is important that we listen to them, and take a page out of their book as well. They [the protestors] have been more successful than ASI has been. I don’t always agree with their stance, but they have been successful.

I think student activism is needed—nothing too radical. But, we need to be heard.

What do you think about the current administration? How would you fix it? What would you
take away from it?

I think this year ASI is focused on becoming friends again with the administration, which is important. It’s important to have those working relationships. There will be things you aren’t able to accomplish if you don’t have those relationships. But there comes a time and a place where you need to put those relationships into action. Sometimes they come in with these new ideas like the Centennial scholarship. I think that it is a horrible idea. It makes me sad that no one ever asked what’s going on with this. Don’t get me wrong, I am in favor of scholarships, but that’s student money that should be going back to students. Why not take that chunk of money and put it back into the library; more laptops, more computers for the desks, maybe longer [operational] hours. We saw that protest asking for extended hours. Why don’t we use the money and give it to them? For the administration to tell us how to be spending our money, I think is wrong.

How do you plan to live up to the Shared Governance model? Do you think it has been
upheld thus far?

The Shared Governance model is just that—a model. It’s great we have so many people on committees. But the problem is that we are not getting any reports back. We don’t know what’s going on in these committees. We have no idea. We don’t even know if [the students] are attending. We need to develop a system that: one, gets people appointed to all of the committees; two, gets proper training for them so that they are knowledgeable about what they are sitting on. We should develop a semester or bi-semester report of what’s going on in the committees. Yes, it’s working right now. But, could it be better? I think so. That will be the biggest challenge for the next president. Being able to attract students to serve on committees. We can’t be three months into a semester and still be looking to fill seats. To accomplish this, I would focus staff time on it. I think staff time could be utilized more directly toward solving issues such as this. Maybe others need to be brought in to help solve this, because we have so many brilliant people on campus.

Are there any brand new programs on campus you would like to start? If so, what?

I’m a huge believer in the programs that already exist as well as other student programs on campus. We have had a lack of support for other programs that have been successful in the past, and have the potential to be successful. ASI’s role, I believe, isn’t always to create new programs, but support the existing ones and the students within them. For example, the laptop program, which was originally started by a student who worked at the library and brought his idea to the senate. That’s one of our most successful programs. Everyone talks about the lack of spirit on campus. The Red Zone used to be a powerhouse, and that kind of dwindled off. Instead of working with athletics, let’s work with students in the Red Zone club and support them. Intramurals is also a great program, but they are losing a lot of funding. So, I may not want to start new programs per se, but I would support those that already exist.

How do you feel about Fresno State being a dues paying member of CSSA? Do you think it is
important for Fresno State to be a part of this lobbying group?

I think the concept of CSSA is brilliant if they actually did something. I’ve had the opportunity to attend multiple CSSA meetings where nothing has been accomplished. I look at the money we spend on it and think, ‘OK, why can’t we be using the money to fund other student programs?’ They need the correct leadership within the CSSA for it to work. It will take more than [Fresno State’s campus] or Cal Poly’s campus to have an effective leadership.

Instructionally related activities funding is broken down into eight parts: Performance, athletics, radio/television, art, drama production, publications, forensics and others. Athletics receives the largest portion of the funding, following a 2007 referendum that saw funding for intercollegiate athletics merge with funding for student clubs and organizations. Likewise, funding for clubs and organizations was reduced by half this year. As the potential chair of the IRA committee, do you think that this is a responsible use of IRA funding? How do you think IRA funding should be allocated?

I think IRA funding has been very successful. I think IRA funding should become ASI’s. We practically run it. It’s students’ money, so it should become a full ASI entity. I think that the process kind of confuses students. A lot of students on campus don’t know that the funding is available, while others are capitalizing on not just this funding, but club finding as well. We need to be able to provide more to student clubs and organizations. Some groups are able to get massive amounts of funding while others get none. We need to be able to fix that imbalance.


Photos Courtesy of ASI

The Collegian: Interview Questions

Background information –
Name: Cody Stewart Madsen
Age: 20
Major: Anthropology with a minor in music
Years in office if held: 1year
Previous position in ASI if held: Senator for resident affairs
Are you a member of the Smittcamp Honors College? Yes

Questions


If elected, what would your first duty as student body president be?

Every choice that I make needs to incorporate my understanding of the student opinion. Before I do anything, it’s really important that I work with the executive vice president and the personnel committee in ASI to fill vacancies in the senate. If we try to do anything legislative without a full ship, we won’t be as successful.

If elected ASI President, what would you do to fight fee increases? Would you want to fight fee increases?

The best way to handle the current fee situation is to fight it on two fronts: supporting the legislators that are fighting for us, and organizing a campaign going toward the legislative offices in Fresno like [Congressman George] Radonovich and other federal legislators. I think that if we can take the fight to their offices, then they could recognize that we have issue with [fee increase], and they won’t be able to ignore it. The idea will be to do it on weekends or administrative furlough days, because the biggest failing of any student activism on campus has been that students have missed class. And since they are protesting, the classes are usually at a diminished capacity. If we are taking students out of those opportunities to learn, then it doesn’t hold water.

What is ASI supposed to do? How should it work ideally?

The mantra behind ASI is to serve students. I think that ASI working at its most successful would be constantly looking at students and trying to find what their needs are, because I feel that those needs are constantly changing. If students as a whole want us to act as a lobbying body then we will, if they want us to act as something that supports scholarship and studies, then we will. Or if they want us to focus our interest into clubs and organizations then that’s what we will do. What’s great about ASI is that we have a lot of diverse people. But I don’t think that we have done enough to get to know one another. That way, when it comes time for senate meetings, we’re more comfortable with talking about how we feel about specific issues, so then we can ultimately decide what’s best for all students.

Will you be running on a slate with someone?

No.I decided that I wanted to run independently as a presidential candidate. It mostly came down to me wanting to not focus on running a political campaign, but focusing on a student campaign. I feel slate politics are akin to party politics, and it takes away from a focus on candidates individual virtues.

How do you plan to improve the line of communication between ASI and the student
population?

ASI has a systemic problem with getting to know that information. We need to push more of the large-scale surveys, and make them in a way that all students have access to them. As an organization, I think we probably need to look at technological solutions. I think it would be really wonderful if we could work stronger with the services students already in use, like the my.csufresno accounts and Blackboard and try to outreach to students that way. I also think major decisions from ASI should come with the consideration of all the college senators and all the different at-large senators because they represent portions of the school. I’m going to trust they’re going to do their best to find out what it means to the people they represent.

What have been some of your successes in your tenure with ASI? What have been some of
your failures?

What I am most proud of is that I have been able to hold a couple of outreach events. I’ve also been working hard to connect the residents that I represent with the people who make decisions about how they live. I’ve also been working with five organizations that are residence hall centered. I found that only one of them is recognized by ASI as an on-campus organization. So, I have been working with those [resident advisors] to try to get them recognized as a student organization, if that’s what they felt was best.

There is always more that I can do for outreach. I think there is more that I can do, and I will continue to do, until the semester ends just to foster more understanding of what it means to be a resident at the University Courtyard.

What makes you a better presidential candidate than your opponent?
What qualifies you to run for this position?

I’m not willing to play the political game. I think at this level we don’t need a “career politician” placing themselves at the head and treating their fellow students as constituents. I’m going to do my best to treat my fellow students as fellow students. And I think that is something that seems will be lacking with some of the other candidates. In everything that I do, I try to work to get people to work together. I think that a president is placed in a position to help foster growth within the senate.

Parking at Fresno State has been a perpetual problem. If elected as ASI president, what would
you do to solve this dilemma?

We’ve heard promises that things are going to be changing with the big parking structure that will be built. I think my job, along with the ASI senator for parking and safety, will have to work to make sure the administration keeps its promises. It doesn’t look like the parking garage is the final solution. Even with a parking garage, there will still be congested parking. So this will be a topic that will always be important to students. We need to just keep pushing to the administration that it’s important.

What US President would you compare yourself to?

William McKinley. I looked at some of the things [McKinley] has done and saw a lot of similarities. The reason he was successful was because he didn’t really make enemies. He strove to bring people together. He was a fiscally responsible president and he was very strong in patriotism. I think that is all transcribed in my love for Fresno State and my school spirit. I think that coming to Fresno State was the best decision I ever made, and I hope that will be reflected in my presidency.

Will you still serve on ASI if not elected as president? If so, in what capacity?

There are a couple of committees on campus that I really like being a part of, so that’s something I would have to look at. If I was asked to fill in a vacant senate seat I would greatly consider it and do it if I thought serving in that capacity would be beneficial to ASI and the students at large. Even if I am not part of ASI, I think I will still be pushing my senior year to leave Fresno State in a better condition than when I arrived here.

What do you think about the protesters? How would/will you handle them?

Something I really admire from the protestors is their gumption. It’s something that is almost part of the college experience. This is where we as college students have a lot of power. My criticism of the protests has been that it takes students out of class. I think that anything that removes students from their classes isn’t the right way to go about it. I think ASI has had problems working with people who are protesting, because there has not been a lot of communication between the two parties. I think that it’s a shame ASI wasn’t part of the protests. But, I also understand the reasons why ASI was not a part of the protests. If we work together to make a solid protest that ASI has the power to get behind then we will be a lot stronger. There were a lot of things in the protests that I really agreed with. Like pushing higher education to the forefront of the state mindset. Even in times of economic turmoil, education should never suffer. So that was something I could really get behind.

What do you think about the current administration? How would you fix it? What would you
take away from it?

I’ve gotten to see a lot of different levels of administration through committees or through meetings with different administrators. I think that the administration has a lot of good intentions. I would never characterize the administration as this evil presence that’s trying to make money off of students. But I think their biggest failing is a lot like ASI’s biggest failing, in that there’s a disconnect between what students want and need, and how the administration acts to what they think students want and need. I think next year if ASI really connects with students then we will have the power to take that information back to administrators and make sure they have it right.

How do you plan to live up to the Shared Governance model? Do you think it has been
upheld thus far?

I think the model has been successful in that it fundamentally gets students involved in most of the decisions making processes on campus. I think where we haven’t met the expectation is making sure that the students who serve on these committees understand that they represent not only their own opinion, but they represent the core of students. If we push for those students to gain the understanding, just like ASI needs to push to get the understanding, then the shared governance model will be very successful.

Are there any brand new programs on campus you would like to start? If so, what?

If it is economically feasible I would really like to see ASI push programs that foster socializing. We have a very commuter heavy campus. I think that if there is anything ASI can do to bring [commuter students] and students who live around campus but don’t spend a lot of time here to stay on campus and interact with other students then we’ll be a stronger student body. ASI will then be more understanding of how the core of students feels. If students are already getting together and talking about what it is like to be a student, then the different members of ASI will be able to take from that.

How do you feel about Fresno State being a dues paying member of CSSA? Do you think it is
important for Fresno State to be a part of this lobbying group?

I think working with CSSA is very important. CSSA is the prime mode to push for lobbying efforts at the state and even federal level. As one of the largest university systems in America we will have a lot of purchasing power if we work together. As Fresno State becomes a more active member in CSSA it becomes our responsibility to be a part of the financial support of it. I feel that it is a good investment. But next year if it turns out that the majority of students do not feel that it is a good investment then we will have to reevaluate it.

Instructionally related activities funding is broken down into eight parts: Performance, athletics, radio/television, art, drama production, publications, forensics and others. Athletics receives the largest portion of the funding, following a 2007 referendum that saw funding for intercollegiate athletics merge with funding for student clubs and organizations. Likewise, funding for clubs and organizations was reduced by half this year. As the potential chair of the IRA committee, do you think that this is a responsible use of IRA funding? How do you think IRA funding should be allocated?

In this instance, my personal opinion isn’t that important. As the president, it will be my charge to find out how students feel about how the allocation is broken down. If they decide it is not the correct way we should be handling it then that’s when I will change it.

I’m not the strongest public speaker. And I was looking at some of the other candidates and the majors that they have and they have a lot of public speaking experience in politics. I’m hoping that being a politician isn’t what’s needed to be a part of ASI or to be the president. What has done me well is that I’m a student. I’ve dabbled in three or four different colleges while I’ve been here. I’ve been a part of organizations all across the board. I’m a really good student in the academic aspect. I live my life as a student and that’s what I would bring to ASI.


Photos Courtesy of ASI


The Collegian: Interview Questions

Background information –
Name: Pedro Ramirez
Age: 21
Major: Political Science and Agricultural Economics
Years in office if held: 1 year at the end of the semester
Previous position in ASI if held:
Are you a Smittcamper? No.

Questions


If elected, what would your first duty as student body president be?

I would build a relationship with all the students. I would make an aggressive approach to reach every student on campus at the time, but also start planning the communication aspect for ASI. What we need to do is build up our communication. I would go through all the other programs, like Dog Days and orientations, and I would make it a priority to meet with them and talk with the incoming students, because those are going to be the new students. You want to expose them to what the university has to offer and what ASI can do for them and how we can incorporate their new ideas and what they need, so that they can get resources in the future. Basically, the pivotal point for ASI is to build up the communication efforts between ASI and the students.

If elected ASI President, what would you do to fight fee increases? Would you want to fight fee increases?

The first thing that sets me apart from the rest of the candidates is that they all acknowledge that fee increases are coming. They acknowledge that they’re coming and they’re here to stay. For an ASI president to say stuff like that – you shouldn’t say that. That discourages people. You should be motivated to fight the fees and do everything you can in your power, because that’s what you were elected for: to represent the students. So, even if it’s 5 or 10 percent, I’m going to be out there fighting them. Any bill, like AB 656, that brings in more money and limits the fee increases, those are the types of bills we should be going for. The president needs to be the one who spearheads those efforts to support those bills and mobilize the university, to mobilize the students, to get the faculty and administration on board.

What is ASI supposed to do? How should it work ideally?

ASI is basically the only student body organization recognized by the university and the chancellor’s office, and the state as a matter of fact, that advocates for higher education. Every ASI, including ours, is the sole voice. So, it moves from us to the university, to the chancellor, to the governor. So, we’re in a position to basically bargain with the university, bargain with the chancellor, advocate for higher education, put in programs and services for the students, promote diversity, promote culture, promote athletic events. But, we’re here as an oversight also. The president serves on a lot of boards, commissions and committees that president Welty’s going to be serving on. So, it’s my job to ensure that the best policies are instituted and that corrections are made to those that lack it. If policy’s not good for the students, then you shouldn’t basically rubber stamp what the administration says. You need to be a critic, so you can get better quality policy out of it. I see ASI as an oversight to make sure good policy is instituted in this university, that good money management is instituted, so we don’t face any more issues like we have in the past.

Will you be running on a slate with someone?

This year, I’m not running on a slate. I decided to run independently, but I am supporting a lot of people who are running that agree with a lot of my logic and what I want to bring to this university.

How do you plan to improve the line of communication between ASI and the student
population?

For one, the ASI Web site is pretty bad. Since I came here as a freshman, they had a Web site and it was outdated even then. They just got a new Web site, they paid a lot of money for it. Yet, there’s broken links, the minutes aren’t on there, the minutes don’t get posted, the bylaws aren’t posted sometimes, the revised ones aren’t posted and it’s really lacking interface too. Our Web site is just static. It doesn’t offer communication. I love technology, and I believe that a Web site is the first step that students use to look for information at a university and for an organization. So, by providing a Web site with a lot of interactive tools, so they can communicate with us and we can communicate back, that’s a big first step in improving our communication. The other one is making sure ASI meetings are good for all the students. I would prefer them to be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, between the times when most students show up and are on break. So, they’ll take the time to stop by and see what’s going on and ask questions. Meetings are big, because that’s when students are going to come and that’s when we’re going to discuss our ideas. So, they can see how their senators vote and they can keep them accountable to how they vote. I want to have a series of townhalls and meetings with all of the sectors of the university to see what all of the groups can put in to fix things. I want to put maybe a biweekly video of how ASI is doing, how the university is doing, what issues are affecting us, what we can do, what events are going on, so students can be informed.

What have been some of your successes in your tenure with ASI? What have been some of
your failures?

I’ve been pushing my ideas, my proposals out there, but during budget cuts, there’s things you can’t do. It costs money to run some programs. It costs money and time to institute them. So, many of my ideas have not been instituted. They’ve been discussed, but relatively limitedly discussed. One of the things I take pride in is the bylaws. They tried to revise the bylaws this year and I make sure that a lot of the changes proposed were either re-done to fit the students’ needs or we added things that would protect students, from the elections all the way to the way to the way they manage the money. I voted against cutting the club funding, because they made a policy change instead of a financial change. Why would you want to change the bylaws and the way you do the policy when you can actually just change the way you credit each club. The way you handle the accounting is the problem.

I felt that I should push my ideas more. Maybe convince my fellow senators that what they’re doing is not in the best interests of the students. We voted a couple of weeks ago on an endowment fund for scholarships. This was $25,000 out of the reserves, and I felt that we could have used that money on a new program that benefits more students, rather than a couple of students.

What makes you a better presidential candidate than your opponent?
What qualifies you to run for this position?

I think I’m one of the most qualified candidates, because I have many aspects, and I see the respect for the position and for the students. I have experience in managing many organizations. I’m a member of several student organizations and several off-campus organizations. To name a few, I’m part of the Cineculture board, I help manage their Web site and promote them; and I’m a member of the ACLU Fresno State chapter, where we’re going to work on civil rights here on campus. Off campus I serve as vice president of Rotaract, that’s one of the Rotary International’s little subsidiaries for young professionals and students who want to get engaged. So, we do a lot of community service and we’re going to be coordinating with a lot of other organizations. I have a lot of legal and policy background. I work for lawyers who need my help filing or putting stuff away whenever they need me and it works with my schedule. I was hired by Strengthening Our Lives (SOL); we basically go throughout the community and register people to vote, and we work on specific policy issues that deal here in the valley. One of ours was the water issue, and we’re doing a lot of research from both sides and we put together a proposal on how it should be done and which bill would be the best. So, I have a lot of experience in policy. As president of the College Democrats, during the 2008 elections we registered more people to vote than ASI’s 1509 program. One factor that makes me stand out is that I am a fee-paying student. I pay everything myself and I’m empathetic to the students, because I am a student and I know how it feels to pay. I know how it feels every time the fee increases go up. So, I know how it feels to get more for less.

Parking at Fresno State has been a perpetual problem. If elected as ASI president, what would you do to solve this dilemma?

I’m the senator for parking and safety. I’m a big fan of economic development and infrastructure, and parking deals specifically with that. If you can fix the parking problem, you can fix a lot of unrest among students. So, because of budget cuts this year, we were not able to implement a lot of the ideas that I had. We’re definitely setting the foundations for relieving the parking problems. That’s why I’m a big advocate of alternative transportation. If you just build another parking structure, people are going to use it and that’s going to get full. So, you need to have other programs here that alleviate parking. One of the programs I’m pushing is the bus program, where we partner with the city of Fresno so students could use their ID cards to ride the bus for free. At least the four main thoroughways (thoroughfares?) that come here. That will help not only reduce pollution and help the environment, but it will also help parking. The other thing I’m working on is revampimg the Red Bike program. They’re old, they’re tattered, they’re broken up, they’re getting stolen, there are not enough racks. So, we’re definitely upgrading all the bikes a.d getting more racks.

What US President would you compare yourself to?

I love history and political science. That’s my thing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy. Both of those guys are my heroes. The way I compare myself to FDR is we’re both going for an office during or after a recession or an economic crisis. When he became president, he put in new programs, new services and he was a new leader. The way I see me and JFK is he’s a new face. He was one of the youngest presidents ever elected. He was promoting fresh ideas. Civil rights were one of the biggest things he was pushing for. And that was unheard of, for a president to do that.

Will you still serve on ASI if not elected as president? If so, in what capacity?

I would want to serve the students in some shape or form. I want to serve the students through any organization. I would serve as an observer. I’m a stickler, when it comes to people making promises, so I would definitely observe them and hold those elected accountable to the promises they made to the students. I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t like to stand back and do nothing.

What do you think about the protesters? How would/will you handle them?

I was in the first walkout and also the March 4 Day of Action. So, I guess you can classify me as a protestor. But, I did not participate in the takeover of the library because I felt that could have escalated and got violent. I know many of the people in the leadership of those groups that formed the coalition of the students. I know how effective they’ve been at planning, so I would work directly with them to see how ASI and the groups can forge a relationship.

What do you think about the current administration? How would you fix it? What would you take away from it?

Our current ASI administration hasn’t done much. There’s a lot of reasons for that. I understand that for someone to be in that position, a president or an executive, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of stress and at the same time they are trying to mend ASI’s image from what happened in the past. The only way that you can bring a better image to ASI is to actually do stuff: get out there, promote yourself, meet students, promote better programs and stuff like that. At the debate, Cole was really hammering Alex for not being down with the students, but the thing he didn’t say was he’s the Chief of Staff. So, when he talks about Alex, he’s basically talking about himself. Neither of them have really visited the students. None of them participated in the marches.

As for the university administration, they do what they can do with what they have. It’s hard to be in a position like Dr. Welty. He’s getting criticized in every direction. At the same time, he also needs to come down from his office and visit the students and see how they feel. He needs to make sure that campus spending is spent on the right places.

How do you plan to live up to the Shared Governance model? Do you think it has been
upheld thus far?

For one, I like the shared governance plan. I’m a big advocate for that. I plan to expand it and ensure it’s effective.
We need to have our voices heard, and what’s better than to put students directly from the population in. I plan to better promote it and mange it. If you ask people what shared governance means, they don’t know. They don’t know that it’s an actual program here. If we promote it, put signs out there and tell them to serve on a committee. We haven’t had much promotion. One of the things ASI should be doing is promoting shared governance.

Are there any brand new programs on campus you would like to start? If so, what?

A lot of the programs that I’m an advocate for are just ideas. I’ve researched all of them and I’ve looked them up on a lot of campuses. I want to make sure we have the money and the capability, and then we implement it. One of them is the recycle program. I found it kind of ridiculous that they took it, because it saves money. Especially if you redo it, you can get even more money. Universities, by law, have to have a recycling program of some sort, even if it just meets the minimal requirement. The one that I’m proposing is a simple one. Just bring your cans, bring your things, and cash them. It’s just like one of those community recycling centers that you see all around. The program I’m advocating is modeled after CSU Long Beach. You’ll hire students first of all. You’ll students to run it, you’ll put the recycling bins back, just collect it and take them in and the university will get more money.

How do you feel about Fresno State being a dues paying member of CSSA? Do you think it is important for Fresno State to be a part of this lobbying group?

I like the idea of being a part of the CSSA. I see a lot of benefits, but I also see a lot of potential costs: the $15,000. Right now, I don’t see it as worth being in CSSA, because they haven’t done much in my eyes. I keep close eye on what they do. From being in politics for a while now, I see that a structure that is top-down is not the best approach – having the executives just tell everybody else what to think and how they should do it. That’s how CSSA does it. I feel that it should be bottom-up – where the ASIs have their plans and there ideas and they tell the executives, and the executives implement them. Thanks to CSSA, we do have two student representatives in the board of trustees, so there’s some positives in that, their connection, their resources. But, like I said, they need to do a better job organizing themselves and a better job promoting higher education. If I get elected, I would definitely make recommendation on how they can revamp and restructure their organization.

Instructionally related activities funding is broken down into eight parts: Performance, athletics, radio/television, art, drama production, publications, forensics and others. Athletics receives the largest portion of the funding, following a 2007 referendum that saw funding for intercollegiate athletics merge with funding for student clubs and organizations. Likewise, funding for clubs and organizations was reduced by half this year. As the potential chair of the IRA committee, do you think that this is a responsible use of IRA funding? How do you think IRA funding should be allocated?

I’m a big fan of IRA, though I didn’t like the fee increase. I didn’t how it was broken down. I believe it was $62, and I believe $32 goes to athletics and the rest goes to clubs. I thought that was kind of ridiculous. It should be at least equal, if not educational stuff receiving more. I’m a big fan of art, culture, diversity and research. We are a university. We should be doing research. By doing research, we could benefit the university and the community. We could get funding from IRA to get students to go out and get research on the water crisis. We could give money to the social work department to go out there in Fresno to help solve the homeless issue. We have a really bad asthma problem because of all of the pollution. Let’s send students, give them a little money, to go out there to do the research that we need. We can do research; we should do research. That’ll bring pride to the university. That’ll bring pride to the community.

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