May 22, 2019

ASI: Secretary of defense, other positions filled

Several positions, including a secretary of defense office for the campus, were created and filled Wednesday for the Fresno State’s Associated Students, Inc. senate.

ASI President Moses Menchaca moved to create a new position to focus on campus safety as well as veterans affairs.

Shai Van Gelder, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force and member of the fishing and gun clubs at Fresno State, then was elected to fill the position.
“I have been working hand-in-hand with many of the veterans on campus,” Van Gelder said. “I believe I’m more than capable of being the voice for people who don’t have a voice here.”

The secretary of defense position was created to promote campus safety on a broad level and apart from parking. Menchaca studied President Barack Obama’s cabinet positions and combined the positions of secretary of defense and veteran’s affairs. He said the new position aligns with his campaign goals.

“The name alludes to something bigger than it is,” Menchaca said.

Kiranjit Dhanjan was elected as ASI’s senator for parking and safety, a position that will work in conjunction with the secretary of defense.

Her job is to work closely with the University Police Department to establish sustainable and safe programs on campus and to regularly identify ways to increase Fresno State’s security.

Menchaca said that Dhanjan’s goals aligned with ASI’s attempts to make Fresno State a more secure environment for students. ASI is working with University Police, which is understaffed, to incorporate more student internships.

Menchaca said other university campuses have positions similar to the parking and safety senator, but no campuses that he knows of have a secretary of defense.

A new position to focus on student employment also was created Wednesday.

Aaron Hyde, a transfer student from Monterey Peninsula College, hopes to use his new position as secretary of labor and commerce to create more job fairs on campus and increase student internships.

“Unemployment among college students is upwards of 50 percent,” he said. “That’s why Moses [Menchaca] was right to create this position, so that we can help bring employment to our fellow students on campus.”

The new cabinet member positions are voluntary, similar to the senator positions, so no money from ASI’s budget goes toward paying the new cabinet members.

Retroactive withdrawal changes proposed

Senator of student affairs Daniel Clark proposed that students should have 10 years to retroactively withdraw from a course or semester—doubling the current limit.

Withdrawing from a course retroactively means dropping a past course or semester due to documented circumstances beyond the student’s control. The university’s executive committee aims to limit retroactive withdrawal to a maximum of five years after the course was originally taken unless a degree has been granted.

“I want to stress that only five years is not a good time frame,” he said. “The average time a student takes to graduate is five years. I’m in year six of college, and I know there are other students who may be in that same position and/or have extenuating circumstances.”

Kaitlyn Sims, senator of the Craig School of Business, agreed with Clark.

Sims said she took college courses in high school and students like her may need to drop a college course taken more than five years ago in high school.
Clark said he aims to protect students like Sims who will not be able to adjust their records due to the five-year policy. He said he will contact the executive committee about extending these limitations.

Sex offender resolution update

Neil O’Brien’s proposal to identify and limit all sex offenders on campus is still being considered by ASI.

The resolution pertaining to sex offenders was proposed on Aug. 28 by the senator for the College of Health and Human Services.
O’Brien said he wants the campus police department to institute a policy of full disclosure of information about students or staff who are registered sex offenders.

O’Brien said he amended parts of the resolution to include policies on Internet access.

“Because of the nature of different types of crimes of sex offenders, there’s a need for limitations regarding their access to computer networks and Internet access on campus,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien contacted the Women’s Resource Center about the proposal. Coordinator Jenny Whyte said in an email to ASI that they share a common goal of safety for the Fresno State community.

“I will watch with interest the debate on the resolution of sex offenders,” she said.
O’Brien said he does not want to rush the debate.

“It’s a six-page proposal and it does involve a very intricate issue that affects the level of safety on campus,” he said.

ASI postponed voting on the resolution until the next meeting on Sept. 25.

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