Spring Elections: Jessica Shelton, Student Services VP Candidate Q & A
What is your history with ASUCI, your accomplishments and why you feel qualified for the position?
Last year, I was the athletics intern, assisting with publicizing all of the events we have. We weren’t just interns, we helped work Shocktoberfest, Wayzgoose and the Anteater Involvement Fair. I am the athletics commissioner now. This year we promoted student attendance for men’s and women’s basketball. In order to plan ways to gather more students, I started planning in the summer. I drafted a proposal in early fall to present our funding needs for the series to Parham. Busing many students to other college campuses for away games is really expensive, so we needed extra funding for shuttles. Parham approved all funding for the shuttles, and we had five shuttles for each day of big west tournament.
Extra funds were used for student spirit. We were able to give away 600 t-shirts at Beat the Beach and 300 t-shirts at a women’s basketball game in February. We also had a rally recently for baseball, and there was a great turnout for that rally. A lot of marketing has really helped to promote attendance at games. This year, we doubled men’s basketball attendance, which was really exciting. Ask anyone who has gone to a good amount of basketball games and they would tell you the energy was much better this year.
Within the office, I have also helped lead student the postcard campaign to get Obama to speak at graduation. We have done a lot of lobbying in Sacramento. I find it really important to fight for the student, and it is essential to get more funding for the university. I find it really important to voice our students’ rights. I have built good relationships with the student body, through the office, this year and from this point on I feel I will do a good job for the students.
In that past ASUCI has had to dip into reserve funds to put on Reggaefest. How would you change the way that ASUCI handles these funds?
I plan to be more financially responsible. Sometimes we have to make choices like sacrificing the quality of another event for the students in order to fund more popular events. I will also plan earlier in order to have time to solve issues that arise. It is the next best thing to predicting whichever issues might arise.
I know legislative council has been great with working with us. This year, we knew Reggeafest was an event the students really wanted. It is job to help bring more spirit on campus, so we try to measure the campus climate. We want to show students that we do care about them and are listening to what they want. Every year is different, but I am hoping that we won’t have to ask for as much money as we have in the past.
How would you improve ASUCI’s relationship with students in terms of acknowledging input?
Surveys typically do not get good responses. I want to have open forums and open office hours. In the past, it has been intimidating for students offer their input. It is always necessary to get the students input. Students just want to have a simple conversation, and I want to understand what their needs are. We have 600 organizations that make this campus as diverse as it is. I would like setting up meetings with presidents of those organizations. I will ask them ‘What can we do to serve you better?’ It is important to show them how much we care about their organizations. I plan on meeting with cultural clubs one day of the week and social organizations another day, for example. The changes start by talking to one student at a time to improve their time here at the university.
So what kind of changes would you make to Schocktoberfest?
We want to start by asking the students for input. I want to speak with the representatives from different organizations on campus, someone from CARE, CCC, LGBTQ center regarding the performers invited. It is important to have their input. I see things from my perspective, but can’t know how they feel about certain artists. I am always asking myself ‘What we can do to make students more aware?’ This year, things started going downhill. Students were upset that we weren’t releasing artists. I plan to host a town-hall meeting to inform the students so they know what is going on, keeping constant contact with the students. There are a lot of things we need to consider for how it is going to run this year, including how much security we will need. These are conversations we will have with administrators. As long as we understand the things the event needs, we can effectively communicate that back to the students.
What sort of fresh new approach would you bring to student services?
I will introduce engagement and collaboration. I personally have asked students, ‘What is something you enjoy and is something you don’t like here.’ I often go up to students at our events and ask them for feedback in the moment. I ask them ‘What can be improved on for next year?’ I want to show the students we are not the sole decision-makers; we are here to serve them. We are equal to them. We want their input so they know we are not making decisions for them, they are part of these decisions. For example, some people complain that there are only white artists playing at Reggaefest. I definitely want to have more multi-cultural performances.
I want student to be able to respect each other and become better informed to make these decisions themselves. I want people to walk away with stories they can tell their children one day. It is important to create memories and be a part of your student body. We don’t have a football team but there are other sports to root for and other clubs to invest ourselves in. I want students to feel their interests have been met and that they found a club that represents who they are. I hope that we will be able to put on more frequent and more successful events. I want students to feel like they have had the best time here. If I made the experience of one student better then all the time and effort will be worth it.