By Emily Frisan, Aug. 31, 2021
With students transitioning back to campus this fall, ASI held its first board of directors meeting of the semester on Aug. 26, filling the secretary of basic needs cabinet position and discussing ASI Financial Services’ reopening plan.
The board expedited and approved Martin Aranjo Jr.’s nomination as ASI secretary of basic needs in a 9-0 vote, filling one of ASI’s cabinet-level positions.
“He can help us with destigmatization where we can get more people to come to resources like the Poly Pantry,” said ASI President Prabhat Jammalamadaka when discussing his nomination of Aranjo. “Martin knows the resources and plans on promoting existing ones. He plans on identifying new needs before they become bigger concerns.”
Aranjo, a chemistry student, explained his excitement coming into the secretary of basic needs role, hoping to identify and solve the insecurities of students and faculty in need.
“I want to find new ways to provide basic needs to those who are not able to come to campus,” Aranjo said.
Although he has not met with the entire Basic Needs Committee, Aranjo is dedicated to supporting services such as CAPS and the Poly Pantry, especially with COVID-19 concerns continuing to rise.
As secretary of basic needs, Aranjo is tasked with advocating for students regarding issues around food insecurity, housing, transportation and financial insecurity by coordinating with stakeholders, ASI officers, committees and students.
During the 2020-21 academic year, former ASI President Lucy Yu filled the secretary of basic needs position twice throughout her term. When asked about his concerns for retaining cabinet-level positions Jammalamadaka said, “These positions are very important to us. I want to get the best person possible for this position.”
Other vacant cabinet-level positions include the officers of legislative affairs and transfer engagement, as well as the recently added officers of technology and academic affairs.
Besides the cabinet, ASI leadership is also working on appointing both student leaders and students-at-large to university and ASI committees. Jammalamadaka’s position as ASI president requires him to appoint students-at-large to more than 50 university committees that require student representation. Interested students can find more information, and the application to serve as an appointed student-at-large to ASI and university committees, in ASI’s Committee Appointments website.
As for ASI’s internal committees, over the summer student senators have gradually been elected to fill the required positions. In Thursday’s meeting, Daniel Foncello, College of Letters Arts & Social Sciences senator, was nominated to the Governmental Affairs Committee; his internal election is scheduled for the next board meeting
In other business, Carol Lee, ASI’s chief financial officer, announced ASI Financial Services’ intention to reopen in a hybrid form in hopes of serving an average of 97 students a week through virtual and in-person appointments. Financial Services’ goal is to shorten lines and restructure the annual budget submission process for clubs and organizations with OnBase and MyBar.
ASI Vice President Derek Sweem explained that the restructuring will be helpful for students serving as leaders in clubs and organizations for their annual budget reports and requests.
Since the start of the semester, there has been a rise in concerns for students experiencing technical difficulties reaching multiple ASI services. ASI Financial Services remained relatively open throughout the pandemic, however, as the office opens for students in the fall semester, ASI hopes the restructuring can assist more students.
“With all this new technology, it will allow lines to become shorter and decrease the spread of COVID-19,” added Jammalamadaka. “It’s a blend between normalcy and technology, and I think (Financial Services) is doing a great job at it.”
Discussing their broader goals for their term as the semester begins, Jammalamadaka and Sweem said their biggest concerns going into office are repopulating the campus, meeting basic needs and being transparent with the student population.
While ASI continues to receive information from the California State University’s Chancellor’s Office, the organization is the last line of communication before students. Therefore, Jammalamadaka and Sweem expressed that being unable to continuously provide timely answers to students makes student governance increasingly harder.
Regardless of the difficulties at hand, both ASI leaders are excited to work on basic need initiatives and see students both virtually and on-campus.
Jammalamadaka and Sweem also described the overarching themes of the 2021-22 ASI Action Plan in its three domains: ASI, allyships and advocacy. The team’s advocacy domain houses the long-term issues that may require more time, effort and resources.
For example, one such issue is to advocate for stability regarding Title IX training for students. Jammalamadaka said the training changes at the federal level according to the presidential administration, making it increasingly difficult to address student’s concerns.
Unified, the pair also explained the importance of sustainability through initiatives such as the Fast Past — a pilot put in place in hopes of reducing parking problems and the campus’ carbon footprint.
“I’m happy to be their president,” added Jammalamadaka, explaining his dedication to CPP students. “We just want to be there for them.”
Jammalamadaka and Sweem plan to announce more information about their Action Plan within the upcoming months and present to students shortly after. The next board of directors meeting is scheduled to be held Sept. 9.
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