Apr 19, 2019
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Elias J. Karam in his office located in the Associated Students, Inc. office. (Alex Yanez/ The Collegian)

ASI VP discusses role of student government

With his pledge to make sure students have the best resources available on campus,  executive vice president of Associated Students, Inc. Elias J. Karam wants students to be aware of all the opportunities that can aid their education.

“We’re literally doing these things to make it all easier for all students and us,” Karam said. “I love helping students.”

Karam said his passion is helping students and listening to their needs to improve campus life.  

Last year, Karam was the senator for the Lyles College of Engineering, which led him to pursue the role of vice president in ASI.   

Karam’s father was one of the many reasons why he choose to become an electrical engineering major in college.

“He instilled that passion in me,” Karam said. “When I graduated high school, I really didn’t know what to do.”

In addition to following his father’s footsteps, another factor that Karam said led him toward engineering was his habit of being a problem solver.

“I kind of ran out on a limb for College of Engineering senator last year,” Karam said. “I thought that was a great fit for me.”  

Karam said that at the time, he simply wanted to do more to help the student body, so he focused and put more time into student government.

“We’re only here to help students,” Karam said. “To install these programs, go to these events, to just benefit the entire student body.”

Senate meetings are a time for ASI members to have their voice heard and advocate ideas and programs that can improve students’ experiences. Karam advises the college senators during these meetings.

“These programs and initiatives from the start are good for everyone,” Karam said.

Some events consist of training sessions and activities aimed at bringing students together.

Senators are the only members in ASI that can vote to pass bills or initiatives. Senators ask questions and debate what can be passed. They also propose projects and ideas.

“On the senate, you are the one that asks the questions,” Karam said. “As the Executive Vice President or any of the executives, we are more advisors … We’re here to start the conversations. We’ll meet with administrators and people on campus to get these issues to the senate.”

Demi Wack, president and CEO of ASI, said she has enjoyed her time working along Karam to advocate for Fresno State students.

“It’s been really great, because some of my strengths are working with teams and trying to get that teamwork atmosphere going, and he’s really good at organizing and being kind to people and making people feel welcome,” Wack said.

This is Wack’s first year working with Karam at the executive level in ASI. They previously worked together while she was vice president of external affairs and he was senator of Lyles College of Engineering.

“He really cares about the senators,” Wack said. “He goes way out of his way to make sure he’s meeting with senators regularly … offering them ideas, recommending them to different areas of campus so they can complete their projects.”

Tara Powers-Mead, director of operations in ASI, manages the organization. She oversees the four departments which are programs, communications, financial services and administration.

“Our focus as student body government has to change as the needs of our students change,” Powers-Mead said. “As years change, so do the needs of our students.”

ASI is always looking for what students want and need, and works to know the issues facing students so they can be addressed.  

Powers-Mead said she believes that being executive vice president can be a rewarding position. She said she is certain that Karam is doing a tremendous job.

Karam is currently working on creating a senator retreat, where he and senators can come together to brainstorm ideas for ASI. He is also working with Wack to improve the official Fresno State app in order to attract more students into using it.

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