ASI Student Government leadership continues structural organization ahead of the fall semester

Operating under a sparse agenda, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors heard another appointment recommendation from ASI President Lucy Yu during its July 30 meeting as part of a larger focus on finalizing organizational structure prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Yu recommended second-year electronic systems engineering student Janidu Goonatilaka for the officer of internal affairs position. Yu, a fourth-year hospitality management student, commended both Goonatilaka’s experience as the chief programming officer for the Inter-Hall Council and his technical skills.

“(Goonatilaka) has an in-depth knowledge of technology and software that will be vital during this virtual environment,” Yu said. “These experiences qualify him for the officer of internal affairs as he will be conducting our (Bronco Associated Student Experience) BASE Program virtually as well as helping out our student government.”

The relatively sparse July 30 agenda is shared with the board during the start of its most recent meeting. (Courtesy of ASI)

As has been the case for the previous cabinet position recommendations, Goonatilaka’s appointment is expected to be approved by the board in their next meeting.

Reflecting on this and their previous successful appointments, Yu and ASI Vice President Mansaahn Singh both expressed satisfaction with their appointment decisions thus far.

“Yeah, to be honest, we’re super happy with the choices we’ve made so far,” Singh, a fourth-year environmental biology student said. “The people we have appointed from pretty much day one have been putting in a lot of work going to trainings and it’s amazing to see them, even in this virtual environment, still putting in the work that they’re putting in, trying to do their hardest to learn as much as they can and coming in with a lot of information that they already had. I think we picked very experienced students who were ready to take on these roles and have shown that in this short time.”

Yu stated that in their appointments they were looking for students who demonstrated “diversity, innovation and collaboration” and who “brought strengths to the table that are our weaknesses.”

If Goonatilaka’s appointment is indeed approved, the only cabinet-level positions left vacant would be the officer of legislative affairs and elections chair positions.

Yu revealed that she and Singh have begun interviewing candidates for those two positions but are waiting to conduct further interviews with interested students before making a final recommendation to the board.

In addition to cabinet-level appointments, this board meeting also served to prepare board members for internal committee appointments. During her report, Associate Director for Student Government Ashley Joseph stated that committee assignments will begin to be discussed in the next meeting.

Singh explained that unlike cabinet appointments which are recommended by the ASI president and approved by the board, assignments to ASI internal committees will be a process similar to the election of the board’s senator pro tempore where board members may nominate themselves or others for a committee and the board, as a whole, will vote on approving those committee roles.

According to the ASI Senate Code, board members are required to be a member of three ASI or university-wide committees. While ASI committee appointments follow the previously described procedure, board members are appointed to university-wide committees by the ASI president.

In addition to cabinet and committee appointments, Yu and Singh are also focusing on drafting ASI’s 2020-2021 Action Plan as part of their preparation for the upcoming semester.

Previously referred to as the organization’s policy agenda, ASI Student Government’s annual overview of its goals for the academic year was renamed as the ASI Action Plan last year. The 2019-2020 plan was organized into three different domains: ASI projects, partnership projects and advocacy projects.

During their election campaign, Yu and Singh used a similar structure to outline their proposals while opting for the more alliterative domain names of ASI, allyships and advocacy.

The three domains are meant to convey the amount of control or jurisdiction that ASI Student Government has over proposed actions. The ASI domain encapsulates actions that can be taken unilaterally by ASI, allyship refers to actions that are not within ASI’s purview but are relatively short-term goals, and advocacy houses goals that are not within ASI’s control and are expected to be long-term efforts.

While this general organizational structure is expected to stay the same, Yu and Singh acknowledged that the specific proposals first advertised to the student body in early March have needed to be reevaluated in light of external factors such as a once-in-a-century global pandemic and an ongoing reckoning over systemic racism in the United States.

Singh, for example, stated that one possible action ASI could soon take is equipping The Poly Pantry with personal protective equipment—a proposal that just five months ago would have seemed unnecessary.

As for addressing racial injustice, ASI is currently organizing a virtual town hall on racial justice to receive further student input on that part of the upcoming ASI Action Plan.

“We want our students to advise us on the action plan, basically, and make sure that we’re following what they want,” Yu said. “Every action plan, every administration should be chosen based on what the student body needs, and we want to make sure that their needs are being met in this time.”

When asked if other issues facing students would have a similar student body input process, Singh specified transfer student issues, sexual harassment and assault, and transportation as other areas where an ASI town hall could be convened to receive student input but those would most likely take place after the Action Plan is finished.

Details on the virtual town hall are expected to be emailed to students in the upcoming days.

As the fall semester approaches, ASI student leadership’s focus is on finishing structuring their student government organization. The next steps in that process being the approval of Goonatilaka and the start of ASI committee appointment discussions— both slated to occur in the board’s upcoming Aug. 6 meeting 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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