ASI president and vice president candidates aim criticism toward university at debate

With the 2020 Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) campaign season in full swing, candidates vying for the positions of president and vice president of the organization gathered March 3 in the Bronco Student Center for a debate largely characterized by civility toward the other candidates, yet sharp criticisms of the university administration.

The three tickets running for the presidential and vice-presidential offices respectively are: Lucy Yu and Manshaan Singh; Kimberly Cortez and Tyler Palonsky; and Randell Monzon and Marco Rosas. 

After students in attendance had the opportunity to interact personally with the candidates for the first 45 minutes of the event, the duos made their way to the front of the room to answer the questions asked by ASI Elections Chair Maricruz Santander. Santander, a fourth-year political science student, confirmed that none of the candidates received the questions prior to the debate. 

One of the first questions posed to the presidential candidates was what message they would like sent to the administration, faculty, staff and students. 

Monzon, a third-year political science student, answered the question, stating, “I definitely don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, that’s what I want the administration to know.” He added, “Students here come for a purpose, they’re here to find their identity and if administrators aren’t letting students explore the resources that we have or provide greater opportunities, then how are we, as students, going to be able to progress, not just here in school, but out there in society?”

ASI president and vice president candidates Monzon and Rosas (left), Yu and Singh (center), and Cortez and Palonsky (right) prepare for questions prior to the debate moderated by ASI Elections Chair Maricruz Santander.
(Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

Yu, a third-year hospitality management student and current Collins College senator, reinforced Monzon’s critiques, saying, “If we were to be elected on election day, something that I would want the administration to know is that I want everybody to have a level of respect. I think that there’s been a lack of respect for our students and our student body, and I’m not OK with it anymore.” She continued, stating, “They need to be able to respect us and we would like to respect them too and work out solutions to problems to fix our campus altogether.” 

Cortez, a third-year agriculture science student, focused on finding solutions by “establishing a change together.” She said she and Palonsky have been speaking with faculty and staff to explain the issues that students have expressed a need to be changed. “So, we already have a compiled list of things that students actually want to see changed on campus,” Cortez said.

Cortez also stated that she is exposed to constant student recommendations by working as a student assistant in the University Police Department. 

The next question, addressed to the students aiming for the vice president position, asked what legislative issue is affecting students most directly.

Palonsky, a third-year industrial engineering student and former ASI attorney general, focused on student success. He cited specifically the issue of “financial aid not always being distributed properly,” adding, “that’s something that’s not OK and we need to work with our administration to fix that.” 

Rosas, a third-year political science major, highlighted discrimination faced by students. “We need to train teachers and faculty on how to treat students properly because (discrimination) is definitely not OK at any point,” Rosas said. “And if the teacher cannot be retrained, they do not belong at a public school.”

Students had the opportunity to get to know the ASI president and vice president candidates during the meet-and-greet held Feb. 27 in the University Park.
(Jannett Diaz | The Poly Post)

Singh, a third-year environmental biology student, began by referring to Rosas, saying, “I completely agree with my friend here.” 

He began discussing faculty and staff training by stating that “apart from Title IX training, there’s no mandatory anti-bias training that our faculty and staff have to go through.” 

Singh also stated that he authored a Cal State Student Association (CSSA) resolution which would include mandatory anti-bias training into the union contracts of California State University (CSU) faculty and staff.

The CSSA is a nonprofit organization made up of student leaders from all the CSU campuses recognized by the CSU Board of Trustees to represent CSU students.

The final question of the night was delivered by a student and asked all the candidates what the defining moment was that made them want to run for a student leadership position.

Cortez responded, stating, “I was honestly mad. I was mad because nothing was done about (discrimination) …. I constantly kept hearing things about it, and there was nothing really being said. So that’s what really encouraged me to run for president.”

Monzon said that he related to students who struggle with financial, home and food insecurity. “(That) motivated me to be an activist and to be an advocate for all students, not just a certain group,” Monzon said. 

Yu stated that the defining moment for her to run for the position was current ASI President Pasindu Senaratne saying, “Hey, I’d love to see you in this position one of these days.” 

Students can begin voting online for the candidates to fill these positions, as well as student senators and changes to ASI bylaws beginning on March 9 at 7 a.m. and extending until March 12 at 7 a.m. Election results will be announced on March 12 at noon in the University Park. 

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