The Runner

Meet your ASI presidential candidates

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Meet your ASI presidential candidates


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Aaron Wan is a Business Management major. Lauren Yoder is Political Science and Religious Studies double major. Both are running for the position of ASI President for the academic year of 2019-2020.

ASI will host a candidate debate Tuesday, April 2 in the Student Union Multipurpose Room from noon to 1:30 p.m. Voting will immediately take place on April 3 and 4.

The following questions were made by The Runner staff reporter, Ivette Nolasco, and responses were written by the candidates.

 

What is the platform you are running on and what is your vision for the position?

WAN: My platform is: Together we climb and my vision is that if we can unite the whole campus and have CSUB recognized as one of the best schools in the nation. Also, to better present student experiences and prepare them for their futures.

YODER: The formal set of principal goals I am running on and in which I hope to garner student support from, are to engage, enrich, and empower. I envision the seat of the president to be a manifestation of absolute solidarity that ASI accords to the entire student body. As president, I will work alongside other ASI officials to implement new and exciting ways on how to engage students as active participants in the work that ASI does. As president, I am committed to enriching the lives and dignity of all students through programs and initiatives that address their basic needs. I want to work very closely with clubs and organizations so that they have the support and resources to appeal to and entertain, student’s goals, interests, and desires. As ASI president I will dedicate myself to ensuring that ASI continues to cultivate a more diverse, safe, and empowered community of students here at CSUB.

 

What makes you the best candidate for the position you are running for?

WAN: I believe that I am the best candidate for the position because of my experiences. I adapt fast in different environments, as well as I recognize the different perspectives of people.

YODER: Five years ago I was homeless. I had a 2-year-old daughter and I was 8 months pregnant with my son when I walked into the Kern County Welfare Department and asked for help. I was given a once in a lifetime Homeless Assistance Grant and from that moment on I’ve been working diligently on moving up the socio/economic ladder. I feel I am the best candidate for this position because I genuinely empathize with students who may be going through struggles, and I also understand that those struggles are often times silenced. I’ve always had a heightened sympathy for people who feel marginalized as a result of being stigmatized. I am the best candidate for this position because I have personal experience with beating the odds and overcoming negative situations. The experience of being a low-income, single mother, and nontraditional student allows me to think in terms of rationally addressing the issues and needs of all students. I had a professor over at Bakersfield College once call me an “instigator” (he did not like me) and a professor here at CSUB (she likes me) regard me as “intense”. I am typically not a disruptive student at all, but sometimes, I can’t help but stand up for what is right. I believe CSUB has unlimited potential for inclusivity and it would be an honor to sit as president and champion the diversity of our student body. I’ve learned that struggles don’t respect you, therefore you cannot let struggles overcome you. As an “intense instigator” I will make sure, as president, that I will always defend and protect student rights and advance their issues and needs. This is why I feel I am the best candidate.

 

What Kind of leadership background (if any) do you have that could be applied to your position in ASI?

WAN: I have been in ASI for 3 years as the Vice President of Campus Life and Director of the L.E.A.D. Program. In these positions, I have created leadership workshops that helped students realize their potential, and transition into leadership roles within ASI or across our community. I have experience in events such as Runner Nights and founded the weekly “Runner Hour” event where we encourage students to engage with their campus and other students. On top of that, I have been in student leadership for more than 6 years.

YODER: While I was attending Bakersfield College I started and was president of Amnesty International Student organization. I engaged students all across campus to get involved in this organization because at that time the federal government had suspended DACA and I felt, acutely, that something needed to be done. I personally reached out to the United Farm Workers Association and brought them over to BC and began campaigning for immigrant rights. Our Amnesty International BC chapter worked in tandem with the United Farm Workers Association to lobby local politicians such as Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao. This type of community activism cultivated the tools I needed to go and fight for other issues that I have a passion for. One of my biggest passions in life is helping Afghanistan. My children are half Afghani and I owe it to that country to give back. This year, after many years of deliberation and planning, I have begun the preliminary work on co-founding my own NGO for Afghanistan. I also have the experience of running my own business. After I gave birth to my son, I began working as a house cleaner. I started with one house and quickly grew to cleaning large businesses after only six months. It took serious organizational and time management skills to handle being a single mother and running a physically demanding cleaning company. I routinely lost my mind, but I persisted for over two years. I finally gave that up and decided to pursue my dream of completing my studies at BC. I worked my butt off at BC and I graduated in a year and a half. My last semester I took seven courses and I still graduated Magna Cum Laude. My daughter is also an excellent student and despite having a totally busy mother, she manages to make all good marks in Kindergarten. My son, too, is thriving at daycare and is the top Lego engineer in his whole class. I have noticed that leaders tend to have heightened emotional responses to situations that quite often don’t necessarily affect themselves. I am a leader, and I truly hope to make a positive impact on ASI and the entire student body.

 

Name the top areas you would focus on and/or advocate on behalf of all CSUB students if elected?

WAN: Inclusion: Empower students in a meaningful and necessary way (marginalized students, DACA recipients, underrepresented groups).

Graduation Initiative: Advocate for the increase of classroom usage to provide more available class sections and times.

Growth: Strengthen opportunities for professional development and employment after graduation.

Community: Establish our campus as a local hub for community partnerships and culture.

YODER: My first area of focus is to get the ASI webpage updated. If you notice, minutes and agendas have not been updated since 2015. This is a problem for students concerned with transparency and accountability. I am sure there is a totally plausible explanation for why this is the case, but under my watch, I will get this fixed. Also, in addition to updates, I want to transform. I have this vision of all board meetings and director meetings being live streamed. I want to engage students and make ASI more accessible in novel ways. Let’s make this fun. If students can access board meetings in a more convenient and modern way perhaps they would get more involved in the process of ASI. If live streaming poses a problem, at least we can get these puppies recorded and uploaded onto the ASI webpage or even YouTube. I was concerned with how in the past two years all Executive positions went uncontested in the elections. I applaud Olly Lopez, current Executive Vice President, for working hard on sensationalizing the election process this year and getting multiples of candidates for each position. This is amazing. I also have big hopes in implementing, or at least exploring options for, a Free Book Loan Program. Over at San Francisco State University, their ASI has implemented a free book loan program where low-income students can borrow up to two-course textbooks per year for free. Regardless of the election outcomes, this is an issue I will continue to work on. I have already begun working with professors on how to get a program like this initiated and have made contact with SFSU students who are directing their program. If elected as president, my first step would begin by pressuring professors to get required course textbooks on reserve at the library. I know, first hand, the meaning of a book on reserve at the library. Some textbooks are so expensive and range from $100 to $200 that this translates into, for some, a month’s worth of gas, a PG&E bill, groceries, maybe new shoes and a winter coat. If professors can’t get the book on reserve, then ASI needs to step in to support the students. I know programs like this require considerable funds, but if San Francisco state is doing it, why can’t we? Also, upon reviewing the ASI budget, I noticed that there is only one program generating additional funds, this is the eRecycle program and that only brings in a $1,000 to ASI per year. As president, I want to explore areas where ASI can generate additional revenue without taxing the students with higher fees. I will personally go to president Zelezny and ask her to assist ASI in discovering ways to bring in more revenue that could potentially fund big programs that address basic needs and resonate with all students. I have no intention of ever proposing that student fees be raised, so this is why I’d like to see if ASI could generate revenue in unique and meaningful ways.

 

What is your main purpose or reason for being a part of ASI?

WAN: My main purpose and reason for being a part of ASI is that I want to inspire and motivate people. I want to help students find their potential and to see their own greatness. I believe that we can influence people without being in high positions, however being in platforms such as president can amplify the positive influences with greater numbers of people.

YODER: In addition to the programs and initiatives I have addressed above, my other main purpose for being a part of ASI is to inspire other students. I genuinely mean this when I say that my experiences here at CSUB have been first-rate. Every time I cross paths with students while walking around on campus I imagine how great they will be one day and how I had the privilege of crossing their path. I also wonder if they know or realize how great they are. When I was younger I battled with feelings of extreme unworthiness, insecurity, and anxiety. I always fear that students may be experiencing these same issues and they are not addressing them much in the same way as I never got to address my issues in the past. I want students to feel empowered and respected. I want students to strive for their biggest goals, since, you’re only as grand as your grandest dream. To be honest, the odds are against me in this election. I have no prior ASI experience and I just transferred last fall 2018 to CSUB, but I have eternal belief in my abilities as a strong leader and I hope to impart this type of humbled confidence to all my fellow Runners. My favorite quote to leave you with: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

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