It was an eventful year for Associated Students, Inc. President Blake Zante.
Accomplishments this semester had much to do with the team effort of the student government to improve student outreach and transparency among the student body, he said recently as he reflected on his presidential term.
Proof of ASI’s strides toward transparency lies in the fact that more people showed up to the biweekly student senate meetings and reached out through email with their concerns, Zante said.
This semester, ASI expanded its readership program by providing The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times at no additional cost to students.
The Senate also allocated nearly $171,000 in reserve funds toward projects for students. Perhaps that has been the most rewarding part of his presidency, Zante said.
Zante and other Fresno State representatives and students lobbied in Sacramento for more funding for the California State University system. The CSU trustees announced this spring that tuition would not go up.
The ASI presidency at Fresno State is a “unique role,” Zante said. It comes with unexpected obstacles.
Recently, Zante attended two forums along with Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro and other representatives to hear public comments regarding the Twitter controversy unleashed by English professor Randa Jarrar, following the death of former first lady Barbara Bush.
The experience has helped Zante grow, even in his final moments as ASI president, and has inspired him to move toward a career in public service, he said.
“I think like that is a big thing that I learned is accessibility and just being there for the people that live here, whether they voted for you or not. It goes a long way,” Zante said.
He said he’s been inspired by Castro through their one-on-one collaborations and has gained “a nugget of wisdom” each time he’s talked with the president.
“I think one of the biggest moments was probably yesterday [May 3], after the forum, maybe it’s because it happened yesterday, but after it was done, we got off the stage, and we were walking back, and he put his arm around me and he’s like, ‘We did it.’”
It wasn’t a perfect presidency. There are some things Zante said he would do differently. He said he wouldn’t have spread himself too thin across projects and meetings.
“I would spend whole nights and weekends just catching up on all of my responsibilities and attending different events,” he said. “I really tried to go to everything I could happening on campus. But you definitely need some time for yourself, too.”
As Zante prepares to walk across the stage during graduation to receive his bachelor of arts degree in political science, he said he hopes ASI will continue its path of growth under ASI president-elect Demi Wack.
“I think, going forward, she’s really going to have a big impact on this campus and the student body. I’ve seen her passion. It’s very real, and she’s really a real person, too,” he said.
Zante said it is comforting to see the presidency and ASI left in good hands.
Zante plans to intern in Washington, D.C., for the summer and return to Fresno to remain involved with the community. His future may include politics, law school or even graduate school to study higher education.
But one thing is certain – he is a proud Bulldog.