Andrew La was in a packed viewing room the moment the winners of the Associated Students, Inc., elections were announced.
“Our numbers flew … we were so shocked, we just all got up and screamed and yelled,” said La, who became vice president of ASI alongside President Laila Dadabhoy.
Dadabhoy remembers that same night differently.
“I was just tired. I know that’s not always the answer people want. I know Andrew was stoked. He was through the roof. He was up and jumping before I even registered what was happening,” she said.
Dadabhoy, a 21-year-old business major, and La, a 22-year-old public relations major, have one semester left in the ASI office to implement any changes they wish to see on campus.
They are primarily focused on outreach and hearing the voices of underrepresented groups on campus.
“The one thing that I wanted to accomplish was to have a better relationship with the minorities on our campus, and I think that while I tried to make steps in that direction, I’m not sure if I’ve done enough in that regard, so I will continue to do so this semester,” Dadabhoy said.
While there are many concerns among underrepresented groups, La said that the four main issues that seem to be the most common are parking, housing, food insecurity and tuition.
One of their main proposals to reduce food insecurity issue involves launching a mobile food bank by April that would be hosted and stocked entirely by ASI, Dadabhoy said.
La said there are plans in motion for a parking experience that’s worth the money, though it might take “a couple of years.”
“I think one of the most difficult things for me is realizing I only have a year to do as much as I can, and then after that it’s left to the mercy of the people that come in after me,” Dadabhoy said. “What I’m concerned about is that I can get a project up and running, but if the incoming group doesn’t decide to pick it up, then it could fall flat.”
Besides food insecurity among students, Dadabhoy and La also face obstacles like time constraints and unclear guidelines.
“I think that ASI has a reputation for being exclusive, and I think that while I’ve made some progress in addressing this issue, it is not something that could’ve been solved in one year,” Dadabhoy said.
While Dadabhoy’s main concern is the amount of time to get things done, La deals with the issue of having too many options in his position.
“Basically, the vice president can do whatever they want … and so that’s where I had the hardest struggle with whether or not I should do all of it or choose one side. So I am coming up with a solution to amend the bylaws of the VP’s role and responsibility so it’s more clear,” La said.
La and Dadabhoy seemed to have the same view about their development as leaders.
“There’s always more that you can do, but given the learning curve, I think I did my best,” Dadabhoy said.
La echoed Dadabhoy’s sentiment, reiterating his stated time concern.
“There is always an opportunity for growth. Positions like these would require two or more years because the first year is just trying to get the ball rolling. There could be so much more to do that I haven’t done yet,” La said.
For the future ASI president and vice president of the upcoming election, Dadabhoy and La offer this advice.
“I would remember that you’re only in office for a year. What you’re passionate about will really show in your work, so stay focused and remember that there are people around you to help you,” Dadabhoy said. “I really hope (students) just remember I was someone they could talk to.”
La stresses the importance of being aware that the entire student body needs representation.
“At the end of the day you can’t always make everyone happy, but at least you can rest soundly at night knowing that you made the right choice because it was ethically correct,” La said.