After one year as president of Associated Student, Inc., Demi Wack sat down with The Collegian to discuss her term. Wack discussed topics about campus safety, what she hopes to accomplish going forward and what issues she would like to address in the upcoming months.’
This story has been edited for brevity.
What strides have been made regarding campus safety during your tenure? What more do you think needs to be done?
I think one of the best things that we’ve done is work with administration and our local community members. Another thing that we’re doing is [putting] lighting around campus. We went on a night walk with the police department and identified areas of campus that were unsafe or that we felt like students always walk and there’s not good lighting. So we’ve been really strategic on where those lights are going to go. I’ve worked with the police department, I’m trying to coordinate sexual assault trainings and things like that. So I feel like that’s something that our ASI hopefully has embodied just being an open, welcome environment.
What has been the most challenging parts of your time as president?
I think the hardest part is just kind of realizing that everything takes time and you have a year to get as much done as possible and so you really have to concentrate on those core goals and not get too scattered. Learning everything as quickly as possible and trying to implement things as quickly as you can is definitely the most difficult part.
What are your most proud accomplishments as ASI president or in ASI altogether?
I really feel like we’ve accomplished creating a team environment where everyone is motivated to do things and get things done for students and everyone’s excited about it. There’s a lot of small projects that I feel like we’ve been able to accomplish this year. One thing that I’m really excited about is redoing the Fresno State app. That’s a project that myself and our vice president have taken the lead on working with our IT department to let students know what kind of resources we have on campus, both ASI and campus resources and I just feel like if we could create like a central hub for students that’s mobile, that they can be with them all the time, which will help them navigate their way through Fresno state.
I’m really excited about working on a mural project on campus that’ll hopefully kind of highlight our core values, discovery, diversity and distinction, we’ll be working with the art department. I feel like we’ve been able to connect with a lot of different groups on campus, which is something that I think is like one of the most important aspects of ASI.
What do you think ASI needs to do to continue helping students? What has worked, what hasn’t?
The thing that we were trying to do is get more student engagement within ASI because every single student is actually a member of ASI. So we wanted to kind of spread that word a little bit more and let people use us and know about us more. I’m a psychology major and I would recruit someone from the psychology department, someone from the biology, the chemistry, all of that together just to get more student input. It’s been really successful in some colleges but not so successful in other colleges. So I think finding more ways to connect with students is something that we’re going to be working on forever as ASI.
What was the biggest and most valuable thing you’ve learned during your time as president?
Probably just to surround yourself with a good team. I feel so, so lucky that everyone that we work with is really motivated to help students. They totally get what the purpose of the organization is, which I think is the most important part about this organization is knowing why you’re here and what you’re doing things for. Learning how to take constructive criticism is huge. Inviting that criticism is another thing that I’ve learned that’s been really helpful. It’s definitely not as slow as a real government, but things work at a slower pace because there’s there’s different lines that you have to cross, there’s a lot of different organizations on campus, there’s a bunch of people you have to talk to to get things done. Luckily our university does a good job working with us and knowing that our time constraints are and making sure that they know our priorities.
Have you made a decision about running again?
I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I love this university, and I’ll be around in some capacity. There’s a lot of great opportunities on this campus. I’m not sure what, if next year that I will be in ASI or not, but I’ll continue to do things for this university in some capacity or another.
What campus wide issues do you think need to be addressed and probably aren’t being talked about enough at this point?
At the beginning of the year or last year we started the mental health task force, which was really successful. It was started by Alexandra Chavez. She was our student affairs senator and now she’s the senator for Kremen. It was relatively slow at the beginning of this semester, but it’s starting to pick up again and I think that’s an issue that is kind of hard to address because a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. There’s a huge stigma behind it, but I also think that’s a reason why it needs to be addressed. So I think out of the issues that we haven’t touched on, mental health is one that I’d really like to hone in on this next semester. We have Let’s Talk out of the health center, which I think is awesome. You can go in and you just have a conversation with them. It’s just like a counseling appointment, but you can go in at anytime and it’s super easy, super quick so you don’t have to wait for an appointment at the health center.