ASI’s new beginning

In Editorials

Associated Students Inc., the all-student governmental body that
was formed to advocate student interests from the campus to
national level, has new leadership and renewed vigor this
semester.

One point is key, and it is a point which is lost upon too many
CSUF students: Student government matters, if for no other reason
than because it exists on the strength of your dollars. We all fund
ASI out of class fees, and we deserve to see those dollars work to
our collective benefit.

We don’t think ASI lived up to its end of the bargain last
semester.

With spring’s election of President Phil Vasquez and
running mate, Vice President Mona Mohammadi, a dimming torch was
passed into capable hands. As the Daily Titan’s reporting
illustrated last spring, student government had grown insular,
fractious and ultimately impotent in terms of fulfilling its duties
– representing the needs of the entire student body.

We hope that Vasquez and Mohammadi, who admirably wrested
control of ASI from a group of insiders who held power too long,
are able to fulfill some of their many promises. The new dawn has
come; the day is full of possibility.

Important lessons should be gleaned from the chapter just
closed. With voting totals routinely comprising less than 10
percent of eligible students, it is little wonder that people of a
common stripe were able to seize power with small but staunch
voting blocs. When small numbers of people wield disproportionate
electoral power, predictable results follow.

This was the case with the previous administration of L. Matthew
Martinez and Ben Gold. With a small group of active campaigners and
the backing of the fraternities to which they belonged, they
attained lofty and lucrative – president and vice president
earn annual salaries of more than $10,000 – positions atop
student government.

Martinez, for all his chutzpah, simply accomplished very little
as president. He often missed meetings, and was seldom seen
representing students at the Academic Senate.

Gold also seemed pressed for time, repeatedly making and not
honoring appointments with at least one disgruntled student,
tantamount to a senator standing up a constituent with whom he had
arranged to meet.

As the Daily Titan reported, ASI last spring doled out thousands
of dollars in scholarships, unbeknownst to the majority of
CSUF’s cash-starved population. Common to those who were
awarded scholarships was a word-of-mouth way of knowing that such
funds were available.

This concern was never more conspicuous than when Alex Lopez,
the prior president and a mentor to Martinez, stopped by last
spring to pick up scholarship money that his former office awarded
him.

Most of the students with whom we spoke last semester knew
nothing of the thousands of dollars of student money ASI was
redistributing in the form of scholarships.

ASI failed in their foremost mission: to inform students of the
ways in which they may be served.

Vasquez and Mohammadi, both of whom appear free of influence by
fraternities or any other interest groups, are both loquacious
idealists replete with ideas. We like it when they talk about
ȁC;shared governance,ȁD; a hot term for becoming more
active participants in all decision-making bodies on campus. ASI
should advertise itself – and should do so for no reason other
than serving a larger slice of CSUF students.

The new leadership talks a good game. It is up to the fee-paying
students of CSUF to monitor the progress. The question should often
be posed: Is ASI giving us our money’s worth?

We’ll keep our eye on this one.

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