Elections are done. The candidates have made their promises and now the most pressing issue is the follow through on the goals we had in mind by working past the bureaucracy and the institutional hurdles that exist in any governing body or organization. I want to clarify that I do believe in the idea of using an institution to make progressive changes in coordination with fieldwork; I believe both are vital to the success of any long-term movement as both provide the necessary pressures to bring about the momentum to cause those movements to be successful. Though I believe most fundamentally that it is a partnership between both entities and that one cannot dominate the other without sacrificing some key elements that will most definitely hinder the progress of whatever end goal is trying to be achieved.
ASUCI is by no means the only vehicle to accomplish substantial and major changes on campus. In fact many of the key changes generations of students in the UC system have seen arguably have been accomplished by the countless hours of work invested into the local grass-roots level by dedicated students who used the advantage of their collective power to lobby for fundamental changes and after such movements had been established a student government would follow suit and pursue the same tasks. However, having an effective student government that can help take on those tasks by working cooperatively with students and empowering their institutional resources is something that can become a major asset to any student movement.
As president-elect, I already know the hurdles: there is a great deal of mistrust, a lack of confidence, apathy, and lack of general awareness regarding ASUCI and that is a failure on student government’s part and by no means should that burden be placed on the general campus population.
I am aware that campaign promises are always made and that a call for representation is always guaranteed in every election with buzz words like transparency, accountability, input, agency, facilitation etc. I myself used such rhetoric during the election to help articulate my vision for the Office of the President. Now, during the crucial transition phase between the out-going administration and my own incoming one, is the key time frame to articulate a willingness to follow through and work with all student organizations on campus. Now is the time to find students who can pair with the vision of the office and to help build in-roads into communities that have lost trust in ASUCI or have not been effectively reached out to.
I know this viewpoint is in fact utopian to a degree and would even be considered by some as unrealistic for not taking into account some of the complex relationships that exist that may result in the inability for portions of student government to work together with various communities on campus, due to the mistrust that has been built. I’d have to say in response to such critiques of this vision that if we do not believe in such a possibility — that if student leaders both in ASUCI and on campus — don’t believe in this basic vision, who do we expect to help rally and build movements that can push for our general welfare that we demand as students on campus?
The lack of confidence in organizations like student government is crippling to all students’ interest because it already provides a fundamental divide among students on an organization that is supposed to help empower them — not aim to make any student group feel marginalized, misrepresented, talked down to, or left out of the conversation.
But again all of these factors above are a result of the actions of ASUCI and not of the actions of students or student organizations on campus.
This is why I want to reiterate an “open call” to all students on campus from all communities on campus to work with myself, my administration, the office and ASUCI in general.
I want to meet with the most motivated and passionate students on the causes they find important to them and work to get them the resources they need to be successful on campus.
This is my call to the general student body to engage with ASUCI and myself. We need the most qualified and passionate members of the community to be leaders in the office and liaisons to the campus community to ensure that we are covering what we need to cover and to find out when we are horribly misrepresenting and shutting out students. We need a “to the point” criticism in the office to help us understand when we have committed an error when dealing with issues on campus and allied supporters to the various objectives we have to signal to us when we are making progress. Of course our staff and myself will be educating ourselves along the way to help better understand what students need so there isn’t a lop-sided reliance on being told what is happening, but also to ensure to be proactive on how to search and to address issues. Of course, having such a broad array of issues to deal with will hardly make us experts on every issue, which is why the importance of having various students with different temperaments, talents and convictions in the office not will give myself not only a more realistic perspective on how to address various issues, but will allow community members to have a strong insight as to what is occurring in the office.
Thus, I am asking the campus to reach out to us as we reach out to you all to help address the various issues we have on campus and to tackle the issues I ran on. We are going to need allies in the campus community to be successful and to help restore and improve the image of ASUCI as simply more than an organization that serves social student life goals. I know all the offices will be putting out applications shortly to have students apply and be part of key leadership positions in the offices and help assist with our vision. We need your input and your passion to be an effective student government. Even if you believe that having an official capacity in ASUCI is not something that will be effective to your endeavors and passions on campus, I ask that you engage with myself and student government on whatever level you find fit and help drive ASUCI as a campus partner.
I look forward to serving my tenure next year and deal with some of the most challenging and pressing issues on campus. I know not every decision I make or every direction ASUCI will take will be applauded or appreciated by every community on campus. However, I do believe that an opportunity should be provided to allow students to effectively engage with ASUCI and help them believe they are a stakeholder in it. Providing this opportunity is on myself, the other four executives, and ASUCI at-large. Now I ask you to help us be better and to engage with us while we attempt to reach out to the campus.
Regardless of what your opinion is, you have my ear. I hope to see your application and interest in ASUCI as we begin to take the offices.
Reza Zomorrodian is a third-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.