VP campaigning with education secretary

By Megan Viste

“Passion. People. Purpose.” Diana Ascencio and Nyla Simjee have utilized these words to guide their campaign as candidates for president and vice president respectively of Associated Students, Inc.

Ascencio is the incumbent ASI vice president alongside ASI President Julian Herrera. According to Ascencio, the effort she has put in for the 2015-16 academic year weighs heavily on her desire to continue in office for the upcoming year.

“I’ve seen how much opportunity we have to make a change, and I want to continue the work we’ve accomplished so far,” said Ascencio.

Simjee is the incumbent ASI secretary of education. The two candidates believe their cumulative experience in ASI will play an integral part in their ability to move forward in a new administration.

“We don’t have that learning curve to get over,” said Ascencio. “We’d be able to get to work right away.”

This year, ASI established a club fair in order to inform students of various clubs available to them and to encourage student involvement on campus. The concept was the result of student government learning that student representation in campus clubs and organizations had started to decrease over time, according to the candidates.

Creating more of a connection and establishing more school pride is something Ascencio and Simjee want to develop. In addition to the continuation of the club fair, the duo wishes to increase communication and transparency with the student body.

“I know that everyone talks about transparency and how important it is, but we want to actually get to work with that,” said Ascencio.

The two suggest holding forums and frequently publishing videos and podcasts in order to keep students informed of what is happening within ASI and the campus community.

“What we want to do with our administration is set a brand new culture in a way of having that open line of communication with the students,” said Simjee.

The pair wants to increase transparency by publishing the breakdown of student tuition and fees to let students know exactly where their money is going. Ascencio stated that while there has been an existing cap on tuition, it is the student fees that have been increasing and changing. The candidates believe that providing students with this information would be a step toward progress in the struggle with educational costs.

“We also understand the things that we can’t do,” said Simjee. “As sad as that is, that’s an important part of the role, understanding that we can’t just lower tuition at the snap of our fingers.”

Simjee understands this sentiment from her role as secretary of education, which includes acting as the only student representative on the Academic Senate. According to Simjee, the position has taught her how important it is to speak up on behalf of the students in an otherwise intimidating situation.

“When you’re in a room full of administrators and faculty members, and they’re in a heated debate, ” even if it’s not a comfortable point to say [something] you just have to say it,” said Simjee. “I’ve learned to overcome that discomfort and be vocal.”

Both Ascencio and Simjee have had experience with key legislatures in discussing insufficient funding for the CSU system, insufficient wages for faculty members, inadequate resources for underrepresented groups, the pressing threat of the CPP campus and the CSU system becoming privatized, deferred maintenance, CPP’s educational quality as an institution, CPP’s learning environments and space and the increasing costs of tuition.

The 2016-17 academic year also holds some additional challenges with new additions in the university administration. A new vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and a new vice president of the Division of Administrative Affairs are just a couple of those changes. In addition, ASI’s current executive director will be retiring, leaving the next student government administration with an integral role in searching for a new director.

“Next year is a pivotal year with the changes in the university,” said ASI Treasurer Chonlawan Khaothiemsang.

Khaothiemsang believes Ascencio’s current role as vice president of ASI has been a significant factor in her consideration and ability to take on the role of president.

“[Ascencio] is ready to lead,” said Khaothiemsang. “She won’t be spending her time learning. She’ll be spending her time leading the organization, and I think that’s what is really important since we’re losing our executive director.”

Ascencio and Simjee are well aware of the workload they have ahead of them if they are elected into office, but according to both candidates, their motto of passion, people and purpose will fuel their motivation.

“Diana and I don’t do this for the title,” said Simjee. “We understand how crazy our schedule is going to be for the next year. We understand that commitment we have to make, and we make it wholeheartedly.”

Diana Ascencio

Jairo Pineda / The Poly Post

Diana Ascencio

Nyla Simjee

Jairo Pineda / The Poly Post

Nyla Simjee

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