After being blindsided by a pandemic, Cal State Fullerton’s Associated Students president Marcus Reveles and vice president Skylar Soria said their college experience transition from in-person to online was smooth.
But making the switch to online wasn’t the only alteration, Soria said they also had to alter their goals.
“Us, as well as everyone else within ASI, we automatically switched our goals to still have the foundation of them like advocacy, visibility, enhancing the type of experience, but changing it in a way that it would be more feasible,” Soria said.
Soria said she intentionally inquired with ASI’s programmers on creating and successfully holding virtual events. The payoff was clear, Soria said they were happy with the student turnout to ASI events throughout the academic year.
With concerts, open mics and segments like “Cooking with Titans,” Soria said she felt that considering the virtual environment and things like Zoom fatigue affecting students, they have been able to foster a sense of community.
Soria added that with ASI’s Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer Janica Michelle Martinez Torres executed a successful event during Black History Month that touched on a little bit of CSUF history with “Angela Davis Tried to Warn Us.”
Through Torres’ ASI position, Reveles said they have been able to put on various cultural events and create social justice awareness, in collaboration with the university.
Reveles said there is a long list of accomplishments from his term, but he is particularly proud of ASI’s advocacy for the Southwest Asian and North African community, also known as SWANA.
After students made their voices heard in regard to having to mark their race as white due to not having a SWANA or Middle Eastern option when applying through the Cal State University system, ASI made an effort to rectify the issue.
The UC system created a SWANA identity bubble in 2013, however Reveles said the CSUs did not immediately follow suit. With the support building up for the last couple of years, Reveles said the ASI team took it up to the Cal State Student Association. The ultimate goal is to have SWANA as an option to bubble in on any CSU form, Reveles said.
He said the ASI team wrote a resolution and took it up to the chancellor's office where they had a verbal agreement that the change would be made. Although the change is still pending, Reveles said he is very optimistic.
“That's something that we worked a lot with and made a lot of progress with this year, even though it's been virtual. It's something that I'm super proud of being a part of,” Reveles said.
Soria said they are also very proud of the work the ASI team did with Ballot Bowl.
During last November’s presidential election, Ballot Bowl was a virtual, statewide voter registration competition that advocated for voter registration among college students. The competition involved California’s four major higher education systems, and CSUF was crowned champion.
“With the presidential election happening during our term, we thought that that was extremely important to make sure that students went out and vote,” Soria said. “Being a part of making sure that people got out to vote was really cool.”
Soria said they lead the voter turnout campaign called “Pass the Ballot,” that rendered over 2,700 registered voters, making CSUF the winner.
Like most students, Reveles said he, Soria and the rest of the ASI team felt the fatigue of being online.
“A big push for ASI this year was mental health — mental health resources.” Reveles said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people are fatigued, they’re tired, I'll admit that I'm tired, I get Zoom fatigue being in meetings all the time and getting burnt out and stuff like that.”
Advocating for mental health resources is something that Josh Mitchell, incoming ASI president, will continue to push for, while one of his main concerns is the well-being of students.
“It’s not like we’re just gonna move back in-person and all those mental health things are going to go away,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he will also continue to push for student involvement. He said he’s aware that it’s difficult to interact with students through platforms like Zoom, and that students are not concerned to take on more responsibilities, or to attend events because of the uncertainties of the future.
But despite the ambiguity, Mitchell said he is staying optimistic on what next year will look like.
“I like change. I find it exciting, but this has been a bit overwhelming at times, but it's been a good learning experience in the process so I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds,” Mitchell said.