Students and faculty stared at two empty chairs with microphones at the front of the Titan Student Union Pavilion on Tuesday, waiting for the arrival of Associated Students President Laila Dadabhoy and CSUF President Fram Virjee.
When they finally arrived, the presidents decided to ignore the chairs and sit on the edge of the stage setting a more laid-back and intimate environment for the event. During the event, the campus community asked their leaders questions, ranging from personal interests to thoughts on tuition increases.
The Q&A started off with a candid video of the two presidents answering questions about the last book they read and what problems they’d like to address at CSUF.
Dadabhoy said in the video that one of her goals to improve campus life was to have students be more aware of the benefits Associated Students offers the student body.
“My biggest plan is to help motivate student leaders and the rest of the campus to communicate a little bit better with each other so that there’s a more open circulation of different available resources both through ASI and through the campus as a whole,” Dadabhoy said in the video.
During the Q&A the presidents addressed the increase in tuition and were asked how they would oppose the hike.
Associated Students is pursuing different lobbying efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., as well as creating an informational campaign to make sure students are aware of the tuition increases, where they are coming from and know what they can to do stop the increases, Dadabhoy said.
The CSUs have a difficult time getting funding due to state government, Virjee said.
“This year, the governor’s budget proposes a $98 million increase in the overall baseline budget for the CSU, and Fullerton will get its percentage of that. That is about one and a half percent of our overall budget, but inflation is running at 3 percent,” Virjee said.
CSUF needs a 3 percent increase in funding from the government, but its request has ultimately been denied, he said.
Virjee said he believes in engaging with Sacramento and emphasizing the need to expand CSU financing without imposing the financial burden on students.
“We need to be able to communicate more directly the value proposition of the CSU,” he said.
To understand the presidents on a personal level, they described their passions outside of their everyday work.
Dadabhoy considers herself an animal rights activist and owns numerous pets including three birds, a cat, frogs and fish. She said that with so many pets, her parents call their house a zoo.
Virjee’s passions include running a nonprofit in Rwanda with his wife, and getting involved with civil rights and social justice as a self-proclaimed “political junkie.”
He said he also loves to read and hang out with his dogs.
The presidents then spoke about their favorite things about being presidents at CSUF.
Dadabhoy said that when she started at CSUF she really cared about the campus and making sure people are getting a great experience, either from interactions between Associated Students or from the campus as a whole.
“Now as we’re coming toward the end of the year, what’s meant a lot to me is that I’ve been able to engage with people and really understand what they need from the campus and help them from an individual basis,” Dadabhoy said.
Virjee said he loves the promise and opportunity that can be found throughout university campuses.
“A university campus just by its nature is an incubator for the future. It’s a place where we are building the leaders of tomorrow in every sector and every part of what will be the community long after we’re gone,” he said.