With Associated Students, Inc. elections less than two weeks away, candidates are ramping up their campaigns for positions in Fresno State’s student government — including two vying for the top spot of ASI president.
Abigail Hudson will face off against Ralph Ruiz, who was featured in Monday’s The Collegian, for the presidency in the elections which start March 24 and last through noon on March 26.
Currently ASI’s executive vice president, Hudson also serves on the Panhellenic Council and is part of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
A junior political science major with a minor in criminology, she also participates in the university’s moot court and mock trial programs.
Hudson is running on a slate with Kaitlyn Sims, who’s running for vice president of student affairs; Anthony Farnesi, who’s running for a second term as vice president of finance; and Nick Stevens, who’s running for senator at large.
The Collegian sat down with Hudson for its second candidate Q&A for this year’s election.
Q: Why are you running?
I’m running because I have a passion for serving Fresno in general. I’m from here; I grew up here. So I know a lot of the people that have attended this school. My parents attended this school. So I care a lot about Fresno State, and just Fresno in general.
I’m really passionate about serving Fresno State students and making a difference and being able to be the voice. I’ve always been pretty outspoken, so I think it’s a great opportunity to be able to speak for those that don’t necessarily have the ability to do it for themselves.
Q: And what would some of your major policy goals be as ASI president?
So, one thing I’ve worked on a lot this year and would plan on working on is student visibility of ASI representatives. I think a lot of people don’t know who represents them.
So, that’s why this year we worked on the posters we put up all around campus of all the different people who represent students in ASI. That way people would know familiar faces and be able to walk up to me and just ask me a question. I had it happen all year after my posters were plastered all over campus.
And just getting students involved, because I think a lot of problems come from students not getting involved on campus, so they don’t invest their time here, and then they don’t really care when things are happening.
I think that our voter turnout is so low. It jumped 3 percent last year, and that was great, but it needs to get higher. It’s only at 12 percent right now. And I want students to care, and I want them to be invested in Fresno State and the future of Fresno State.
… My other policy changes would be improving the safety, not only on campus, but in the surrounding areas. A lot of people park right off campus or live right across from campus. I personally live in my sorority house, so sometimes I walk home in the evening from school, and sometimes it’s a little scary.
As well lit as our campus is, sometimes it gets a little scary. And it’s improved a lot in the last couple years, but it’s nowhere where it should be.
And then also, it’s student affordability. There’s a lot of policy — sorry, fee increases being proposed, and I’m not necessarily against or for any of them, but I think they need to be justified to the students.
I recently spoke in Long Beach to the CSU board of trustees about why they shouldn’t impose this SIRF fee for $4, and it wasn’t about the $4. I don’t think anyone’s going to throw a fit about paying $4.
But, they just didn’t show how they could justify it and how it benefits students, and they didn’t do a very good job about showing students why it could benefit them or showing me why it could benefit anyone.
So, I chose to go speak against it, and, unfortunately, it did pass, but I’m all about being there whenever I need to be to make sure I’m representing the students.
Q: Student fee increases have been considered on campus for, probably, about the last year. Fresno State President Castro had a plan for a proposed student success fee and an athletics fee which would have been separate. He tabled those for this year, but they might be back in discussion next year. How would you represent the student voice on this issue?
Again, I’m not necessarily against or for any student fee increase, but I don’t think I would support a fee increase unless it’s really justified, not only to myself, but to the majority of the student population why it would benefit students, and if it’s publicized that way.
So, they can’t just come to ASI and tell us why it’s going to benefit students. They need to show the student body why it’s important, how it can benefit them and make them understand, because if the student body doesn’t understand why it’s benefiting them or where this money is going, then there’s no way that they can really, fully support it…
Q: Another big issue right now is Fresno State’s impaction plan — raising admission requirements, because we can’t afford to accommodate how many students are currently applying. Having the ear of Castro and everything, how would you represent the students on that issue?
Well, I recently met with Provost (Lynette) Zelezny about this actually, and she was going over the statistics of students who come into Fresno State, who met the minimum requirements and were admitted from our area based on those minimum requirements.
So, what she talked about, was the students that don’t graduate in six years, don’t graduate at all and drop out of Fresno State and have to go back through community college or just don’t go to school at all. And that number is increasing — it’s a huge number of students who come into that lower level and then don’t succeed.
So, I think there are a lot of opportunities to reroute them through community college or different things, because I don’t feel that if — if those numbers are really indicative of the students and how they don’t succeed, then those students should be rerouted to something where they will succeed…
Q: And what do you think separates you from your opponent, Ralph Ruiz?
I know Ralph very personally. We’ve been friends for a while. He’s a very energetic, entertaining young man.
It’s funny. I actually read The Collegian article on Monday, and I think he’s absolutely right, that what he believes separates us, I also believe separates us.
I believe reliability, accountability and following through with goal setting absolutely distinguishes us. I have a pristine track record of doing all three of those things.
I came in as EVP my first year on ASI, and I set up a goal incentive system and an accountability system for the senators, and we’ve had great results with that. They used to never meet with their EVP like they were supposed to according to the bylaws and policies.
They never would turn in their eight-hour reports. This year, we’ve not had a problem with that.
They do their eight hours. They turn in their reports. They meet with me every month. They get things done, because I set up an accountability system, and I made the goal that I wanted them to get that done, and they did.
I think everyone can describe me as pretty reliable. I show up to everything on time ready to go and above and beyond. So, I think those three things, Ralph was right, do distinguish us.
Q: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the current ASI, being an ASI member yourself, that will go into next year, and how do you plan on attacking it?
… That we have the ability to do things above and beyond what the school would necessarily allow us to do, but that we do have certain things that we answer to administration for, like our budget revisions and things like that.
But just that there’s certain things that have to go a little slower than I know students want, especially with parking I know is a huge issue this year. I came in saying, ‘We’re going to fix, we’re going to build’ — I knew it wasn’t going to happen this year. They weren’t going to build a parking structure, but ‘Let’s build a parking structure.’
Come to find out it’s actually part of the five-year plan for Fresno State for the administration. So, just finding a way to get that information to students for them to understand what programs are already in the process of happening, because I think that’s a hard thing for people to grasp, because no one tells them…
Q: If you had to sum up your campaign in one sentence, how would you do it?
Wow, that’s difficult. I would do it as: Making sure that the students’ voices are heard through getting them invested, not only in me, but in our campus.