In an interview with The Collegian, new Associated Students, Inc. President Moses Menchaca described how he feels post-election, his affinity for politics and his goals for his time representing Fresno State students.
Newly elected 2013-2014 ASI president Moses Menchaca with Fresno State’s mascot Time Out.
Photo Courtesy of Moses Menchacaag
Q: Describe how you feel now that the election and campaign process is over. Is it a sense of relief? Anticipation?
A: When I heard my name as the new ASI president, I was in a complete roller coaster of emotions. The immediate sense of relief and accomplishment set in. I had worked really hard during the campaign and it was rewarding to know that my hard work paid off. Given the responsibility of the position, there is definitely a sense of anticipation and stress. All in all, I feel that just the campaign alone has taught me so much and has contributed to my character. I can’t wait to see what the presidency has in store for me and what abilities I have to help students in such a large capacity.
Q: How has everything compared to what you expected when you made the decision to run?
A: I have been told that this is the “honeymoon” stage of the presidency and I would have to agree. Between the many congratulations I have received, the interviews I have been in, and even just the title of president, I can say that this has been a great experience thus far. I don’t think anybody can really expect the levels of different emotions that come into play during the campaign and immediately following elections. I had an idea of what the whole process entailed and would feel like, but the actual experiences far surpass the level of emotions I encountered.
Q: You’ve mentioned your intention to apply for Stanford Law School when finished at Fresno State. How do you feel your new position will help prepare you for your future, and why is the job is important to you?
A: I think this position will be able to teach me many of the skills that are required to be a successful attorney. I would be required to find solutions to problems that arise by utilizing the policies and institutions that are currently in place. I haven’t been too focused on how this position will help me with my future. My focus has been how to be an effective president and give back to Fresno State, which has given me so much. Fresno State has helped me find a passion for constitutional law and has contributed to my growth as a person.
Coming from a small town, I felt that I was not given the same opportunities many students had in high school. I have been able to experience and grow as a person in ways I would have never imagined possible – solely because of the opportunities presented through Fresno State.
Q: Could you talk about the opportunities at Fresno State and how they’ve helped you?
A: As I got involved in a couple of organizations my freshman year, I found a passion for the out-of-classroom learning experiences. Through these organizations, I was able to see Governor Brown and Meg Whitman debate. I was able to shake vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s hand, as well as attend conventions all over the state. I think it is with these types of experiences, as well as many others, that I have been able to grow significantly as a person and as a leader.
Q: It seems a lot of your experiences with organizations and extracurricular activities have a political slant. Why the interest in politics?
A: Ever since the fifth grade, I have had a passion for the political field. I’ve always enjoyed the wide array of issues that the political world covers. Personally, I find excitement in a diverse group of areas: agriculture, business, philosophy, human relations. Politics allow me to experience these different fields. Having these experiences allows me to work with a large group of students. I feel that I can translate a lot of the problem-solving skills that I have learned through my political experience to make positive changes to the Fresno State campus.
Q: A lot of what you’ve talked about in the campaign concerned student involvement, would it be fair to say that is a central focus for you?
A: I have many goals I would like to achieve during my tenure as ASI president, but it all revolves around getting students involved. Once we increase student participation and awareness on campus, we can greatly benefit student outcomes and experiences on campus.
Q: This year’s voter turnout set a record for involvement but was still only 9.43 percent of eligible voters. What steps do you think need to be taken to increase student involvement and awareness of student government?
A: I truly think this is the key for student success on campus. Like you mentioned, when only less than 10 percent of the student body elects their representatives, it doesn’t carry as much standing as, let’s say, 25 percent of the student body. I think in order to increase student involvement, we need to utilize and work with many of the institutions already in place. We need to continue to develop ASI’s relationship with the USU Board, USU Productions, Vintage Days and Campus Involvement Ambassador in order to truly reach out to an involved group of students on campus. I think we also need to reach out to other organizations, specifically the Greek community, Resident Hall Association, and club sports. The Greek community has perfected the art of recruitment and getting students involved and bolsters a significant amount of students. The RHA acts as the governing body for over 1,000 students in the dorms. I feel that these students can have a significant impact on campus. And club sports has a large group of highly dedicated students that provide opportunities to take a break from the classroom and have fun while being physically active.
Q: Those are a lot of groups to communicate with to organize a common strategy. How do you plan on bringing everyone together?
A: I think in order to work with such a large group of students, such as through the Greek communities, it is important to work with representatives. Being elected as the student representative, it is my job to be the voice for over 22,000 students. Likewise, working with the representatives and leaders of the organizations would allow me to connect with this large group of students. By being proactive and attending their leadership meetings or president’s council, I would be able to reach this group without having to go to every club meeting. Also, utilizing the help of incoming senators in ASI would allow me to remain in constant contact with the demands and needs of those students. For instance, the senator for Greek affairs would be a great connection and link between the needs of those students and my ability to be the voice for those students at different levels.
Q: Student involvement isn’t just about student government, it’s also about building a Fresno State community that keeps students on campus and gives the campus life. How can this be accomplished?
A: Being a student at Fresno State, we are often told that we have a diverse student body. There are many opportunities that are open to these students, and I think many more opportunities need to be created. Being a commuter school, we have many students that only come to school and head off back home. We can utilize this opportunity to reach those students in many different capacities. I don’t want to fret on one specific program that can be utilized, but one idea that pops into my head is the current senator for parking and safety considered making more accessible air compression units to fill the tires of cars. Maybe doing a “grab a lunch on the go” day and pack a small healthy lunch for those commuters, with important information in the bag, and give it to students as they leave campus.
Q: Describe some items on your agenda for your term in office that you feel need to be prioritized?
A: First and foremost, it is vital that the incoming senators have a successful transition into their new positions. We are currently working on the transitions this semester, but we need to continue the process in order for senators to have a good grasp on their abilities. Coming into ASI with no prior experience, it took me awhile to understand who my constituency was, what my powers and capabilities are, and what my responsibilities were. It wasn’t until a whole semester later when I finally realized what my job entailed and how I can benefit my constituents. I think if I have an efficient transition, everything else will fall in place.
If senators have a successful transition, I can work with the senator for parking and safety regarding my plans for a safe and secure campus. I would be able to work with the senator of Greek affairs, the senator for resident affairs, and the senator of clubs and organizations to get more students involved. This is why I think senator transition is so important for ASI to succeed in effectively contributing back to the student body.