The ASUCI Office of the President launched its first ever Anteater Leadership Forum on Nov. 13 in order to promote open communication and collaboration of all campus organizations.
Over 50 leaders from numerous campus organizations gathered in Emerald Bay C and discussed campus concerns and shared ideas.
In the opening of the forum ASUCI President Sammi Shaaya explained that the aim of ALF is to encourage open communication amongst different campus organizations through interaction.
‘The idea of ALF is to provide an environment for students so that you guys can basically start the process of breaking down the barriers that we usually tend to disagree exist,’ Shaaya said. ‘But no matter how many times you sit back and look at it, it’s quite prevalent and it is there.’
Shaaya said if clubs come together and attend each other’s events, then this would not only increase attendance of campus events but would also increase their quality.
‘Imagine the possibly of having different groups come together for that one event,’ Shaaya said. ‘To have bigger events, better events and get over the small things we tend to disagree about and focus on the big picture as to why we are here and that is to invest our future as well as to invest in the future of our school.’
In the next portion of the forum, organization leaders gathered in small groups to engage in intimate discussion. Popular topics of concern ranged from club member retention, interacting with other clubs and ways to advertise club events.
Don Luong, Vietnamese American Coalition representative, voiced his concerns with retention, getting members and getting money.
‘I think one of the things I want to do is to branch out to other clubs outside of the Cross Cultural Center [such as] the Greeks,’ Luong said.
MEChA and ASUCI Legislative Council Representative, Johanna Galarte explained that MEChA outreaches to students in Santa Ana and retains club members by contacting incoming UCI students.
‘We have a retention program as well where we contact students who got into UCI and we bring them to campus for a day and expose them to resources at UCI,’ Galarte said.
Galarte also explained students from other clubs and organizations can apply for money for student initiated outreach programs.
‘Outreach is probably the main concern because budget cuts are happening next week,’ Galarte added.
ASUCI Legislative and Kababayan Representative Jonathan Baucas expressed that groups on campus are categorized and stigmatized as either a cross group, DOS, Greek or athletics member so he encouraged club leaders and members to step outside their safety zones and open up to other campus organizations.
Christina Gagnier, ASUCI executive vice president, was concerned with finding the best way for clubs and organizations to advertise.
Gagnier was worried students don’t take the time to read posters when walking across the engineering bridge and said it isn’t practical to stand at the marquee waiting for all events to be displayed.
In the final portion of the forum organizations leaders came together as one collective group to exchange what was discussed throughout the evening.
One topic of concern was the issues regarding UCI’s policy on free speech.
‘The thing with free speech is it means every speech. Sometimes we don’t like what other people have to say especially extreme groups,’ said Emil Kuruvilla, ASUCI Legislative Council social science representative. ‘That’s kind of a hurdle we have to get over. People are going to say things we don’t like, but we have the right to free speech to counter that.’
Gabe Ayass, ASUCI at large representative, explained that a committee is in the early stages of coming up with a revision on campus policies for free speech and advocacy that will eventually be presented to the administration.
‘[In regards to free speech], students can’t do anything that’s not within 40 feet of a building,’ Gagnier said, ‘We want it to be a free-for-all like at [UC] Berkeley.’
Shayaa said that quarterly ALF forums will be held to intermix campus organizations.