Students say sustainability, accessibility are important for new president

Students voiced their concerns and desired qualities for the future Fresno State president at the student forum on Feb. 16. (Vendila Yang/The Collegian)

Students expressed their preferred qualities of the future president at a virtual student forum on Feb. 16.

Associated Students Inc. (ASI) President Elizabeth Rocha Zuñiga hosted the student forum, and board of trustees members Diego Arambula and Krystal Raynes were present at the event.

Sustainability, accessibility and transparency were highlighted as key areas the future president must address.

Sydney Fox, a third-year biochemistry student and athlete, said it is important for the future president to work closely with the campus community toward sustainability.

“As a leader in agriculture, it is imperative that we also become leaders in sustainability. The installment of this new administration grants our campus body the opportunity to reemphasize the importance of policies, centered on sustainability,” Fox said.

Hisham Qutob, ASI executive vice president, said the future president must be involved with students and available for them.

“With that, it kind of goes into a realm of three I would say great communication with students as well as being empathetic with students. Another one is the transparency of the university. And third is the structure of the university and the resources for the students,” Qutob said.

Although there are resources presently available on campus, Qutob noted that effort should be made to further highlight Fresno State services and to ease the responsibility of students to seek out resources themselves. 

Equality and social justice at Fresno State was also an area of concern. Marissa Acosta, a Fresno State graduate, noted that the future president must be transparent about these topics.

“We definitely need a leader and a president on our campus that will address these issues, and that will be more supportive, or provide more support for students in terms of equality and, like, Title IX issues. I think that we’re definitely growing. Our whole country is definitely changing,” Acosta said.

Fox shared Acosta’s concerns, highlighting the Title IX cases that have occurred at Fresno State.

“There have been a few cases of sexual assault that had been to brought to light in our community, that maybe didn’t get … as much attention and follow through on investigation as the victims had hoped,” Fox said. “So, I’m really, really hoping that our future president can take the cases of sexual assault, which are prevalent in our community, very seriously, address them publicly and make sure that the victims get justice.”

Title IX cases have become very prominent at Fresno State in recent years.

A former Fresno State student uploaded a YouTube video on March 3, 2020, detailing her alleged sexual assault at a Fresno State Kappa Sigma party on Jan. 31. When many students believed the administration didn’t take her and other victims seriously, her case sparked a protest at Fresno State’s fraternity row in support of sexual assault victims in fall 2020. 

Arambula said the presidential search process is in its early stages and at, what Arambula called, the “fact-finding stage.” 

The searching process will span a series of stages outlined by the board of trustees policy: community input, candidate recruitment, candidate interviews and the presidential selection.

Student and community forums will provide trustee members more information on the qualities and traits for the future president that the Fresno State community considers important.

“All of this feedback that we’re gathering is to try and put together a profile of what the next leader should embody. We’ll then share that back out with folks,” Arambula said.

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