The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors unanimously voted in favor of approving two new students to ASI cabinet-level positions during its July 16 meeting. The board approved the appointments of Jayla Littlejohn as the secretary of basic needs and Adrian Tenney as the officer of sustainability.
With a single 12-0-0 vote, the board approved both recommendations, further filling ASI’s vacant cabinet positions ahead of the fall semester.
Littlejohn and Tenney were both recommended by ASI President Lucy Yu and ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh to the board during its previous July 9 meeting.
Yu, a fourth-year hospitality management student, spoke highly of Littlejohn’s experience as an activist for racial justice and as an ambassador for the state program CalFresh saying, “she has gained the holistic understanding of basic needs necessary for the position, and would be an active advocate for our students.”
Littlejohn, a third-year psychology student, was drawn to ASI government for the ability to address students’ needs.
“I became interested in being a part of student government at Cal Poly because I have a passion for leadership and I am willing to work hard to amplify the voices of students from all communities,” Littlejohn said. “Engaging with students and showing empathy to their individual circumstances builds a connection that produces an overall change in the culture of the campus.”
The decision to apply for the secretary of basic needs position was informed by Littlejohn’s experience in advocacy.
“After being heavily involved in the movement to voice the concerns of African American students on campus and bringing more attention to the injustices and racial discrimination our students are facing, I realized that in order to make a difference student groups and organizations on campus need to work together,” Littlejohn said. “As a CalFresh Ambassador and student leader within my community I was inspired to apply for this position because I want to continue advocating for people and a cause greater than myself.”
Littlejohn explained that in her time working for the CalFresh program, she became aware of the negative impact that food and housing insecurity can have on students, but also how student services can help.
“I have also seen how just a few campus resources have managed to significantly improve the health and wellbeing of students and because of that, I wanted the opportunity to do more and potentially add more programs for students facing food and housing insecurity.”
When asked how her work in this position can adapt to the university’s switch to virtual instruction amidst a global pandemic, Littlejohn said, “Although it may be a bit difficult I definitely think resources can still be provided for students during the pandemic through virtual assistance and a consistent effort to receive student feedback and keep them updated on new developments!”
According to ASI’s most recent cabinet code, Littlejohn’s responsibilities as the secretary of basic needs will include: serving as the chair of the Basic Needs Committee and being ASI’s primary liaison to the university’s Integrated Care Network—a self-described “web of services” that seeks to be an entry point for the basic need and mental health services for students.
The ASI Basic Needs Committee Code states its goal is to “promote the fulfillment of students’ basic needs to the campus community and empower them to identify needs of students as it pertains to food, housing, transportation and financial insecurities”
During Tenney’s recommendation, Yu lauded her experience in implementing sustainable practices in her own landscaping business and being a founder of the Climate Action Community club on campus. “She brings great ideas to the table for sustainable practices in ASI and at CPP, and a host of experience necessary for this position.
Tenney, a third-year graduate student in the Department of Landscape Architecture, described being interested in her newly appointed position for the promise of further engaging the university in sustainability efforts.
“I study climate change, environmental design, and community engagement which means that I can apply what I’ve learned in my courses right here on our campus,” Tenney said. “Last fall my peers and I started a club called the Climate Action Community and we identified major sustainability issues on campus that we have been working to address. With this position, I can bring this work to the next level and actually implement some of the changes we have been looking into.”
Tenney also recalled Singh, then ASI’s attorney general, inviting her to a Sustainability Committee meeting where they discussed the possibility of Tenney’s club collaborating with the committee. “After getting to know Manshaan a bit more and seeing the incredible work he has already put in, I’m super excited to collaborate with him and the whole team.”
In terms of adapting sustainability efforts to virtual instruction, Tenney acknowledged some of the challenges that may arise, “especially for incoming students,” but also struck a tone of optimism at the opportunities it may present.
“The thing is, this is such an extraordinary time! The fact that we are being forced to experiment, to take risks, and to create new networks of mutual aid and support, actually means that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and restructure our whole university experience. We have a chance to discard what wasn’t working before and design a better, more sustainable, more inclusive, and more equitable university experience.”
Tenney quoted author Arundhati Roy describing the pandemic as a “‘portal’” arguing that while it has made everyday life difficult, “it has also opened a lot of doors to deep, systemic and social changes. I think we need to run through those doors at full speed and not look back.”
Section VI of the cabinet code labels the officer of sustainability as ASI’s “organizer for holistic sustainable practices” and the “primary liaison for campus sustainability efforts.”
Tenney’s duties will include collaborating on behalf of ASI with several campus departments and organizations on “comprehensive environmental enhancements” and reviewing ASI’s actions to improve the organization’s sustainability.
Partnerships with the university’s sustainability coordinator, Parking and Transportation Services, and the Foundation Dining Services are also outlined to achieve sustainable goals within those respective areas of focus.
The July 16 meeting also saw three more recommendations for cabinet-level positions with Nicole Stai recommended for officer of civic engagement, Moriah Easley for officer of diversity & inclusion and Kassandra Lopez for officer of transfer engagement.
Those recommendations are slated to be voted on by the board during its next meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 23 at 3 p.m. The agenda, minutes and Zoom link for previous and upcoming board of directors’ meetings can be found at https://asi.cpp.edu/student-government/meetings/board-of-directors/.
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