A man and his dog race by a female skateboarder behind Cesar Chavez Student Center on Friday February 5, 2021. (Cameron Lee / Golden Gate Xpress) (Cameron Lee)
A man and his dog race by a female skateboarder behind Cesar Chavez Student Center on Friday February 5, 2021. (Cameron Lee / Golden Gate Xpress)

Cameron Lee

Meet the candidates: Associated Students executive candidate Q&As

Unsure of who to vote for in this week's election? Here is why eleven of the candidates think they are the best people for the job.

April 27, 2021

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed candidate Jennifer Valencia as affiliated with the Students for Equity and Accountability slate. Since being interviewed, she has decided to run as an Independent.

Voters in the Associated Students board of director elections have some tough choices to make this week. 

The field of 17 candidates running for executive positions alone include current AS directors, community advocates, club leaders and more. Despite differences in their platforms, they all share a common desire: To make life better for you, the student.

AS, the official student government for SF State, is made up of a board of directors. There are three different types of positions that students, either graduate, undergraduate or transfer, can run for: executive officers, college representatives and issue directors. Students on the board of directors meet with administration and local politicians, run and establish AS programs and advocate for students according to the Associated Students website. 

To help with the voting process, Xpress reached out to the 17 candidates with questions about their background, platform and qualifications. The responses Xpress received, both in videos and over email, are listed below.

Information for all board of directors candidates can be found on the AS website.

To vote in this year’s AS election, click here.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

 

President

Joshua Ochoa is running for president in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Ellie Doyen / Golden Gate Xpress) (Ellie doyen)

Joshua Ochoa, Students for Equity and Accountability

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Orange County, California, in a single-parent, working class family with my mom and my brother. My brother and I struggled a lot with economic insecurity, with housing insecurity, as my mom persevered and kept us afloat on just a single income. As a queer student of color, these experiences expanded my perspective and showed just how brutal this world can be — and that people need to stand up and fight back to ensure that we have a better life.

 

Why are you running for office?

This past year has been a wake up call for many of us. Students have lost our jobs, our housing, our community and even our loved ones. During this pandemic, we’ve struggled more than any group of students in decades and while returning to normal sounds great in theory, the reality is that “normal” never worked for us in the first place. In this moment, we must band together to overcome the systemic barriers that keep us from focusing on our education. Students shouldn’t have to focus on where their next meal will come from, or where they’ll sleep at the end of the night.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I will never stop fighting for your right to basic needs. I will never stop fighting to empower your voices and the voices who have long gone silenced or left behind. If elected, we have to systematically change the relationship between Associated Students and our student community. We must be the ones who go out and bring people together and support our student organizations not with just additional funding, but with leadership training and adequate resources to improve our campus.

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I’ve served on the AS board of directors and served students for the past three years as the vice president of External Affairs, Liberal & Creative Arts College representative, and the Residential Housing Association representative. Within these roles, I’ve advocated for greater basic needs resources, fought for more affordable housing and transportation options for students and lobbied our elected officials to invest in students and financial aid.

 

What will be the first thing you will do if elected?

If elected, my first actions will be to ensure that [the] administration ensures that every student has access to a free COVID-19 rapid testing kit and COVID-19 vaccine on-campus by the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester, as well as bring students from many diverse student organizations together during the summer months to establish a community-based council to give input on how to address systemic barriers on-campus.

 

If you’re on a slate, can you talk about your platform?

I’m proud to be running on a slate of incredible student leaders from across this campus, on the Students for Equity and Accountability slate. We stand in solidarity with our students and we promise to fight for you every step of the way. We will fight for on-campus vaccines and testing kits. We will fight for affordable housing and transportation on our campus. We will fight to keep the administration accountable to putting students first. 

 

Why is AS important to you?

Associated Students is important because it serves as the core student-led, student-run organization on our campus. We must re-establish AS as the official voice of students by using our resources and programs to empower, unite, and invest in all our student communities.

 

Aseel Fara is running for president in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Kyran Berlin / Golden Gate Xpress) (Kyran Berlin)

Aseel Fara, Voice for Gators

Tell us a little about yourself.

My mind constantly revolves in the realm of deeds, which means I’m constantly asking myself the questions of how can I help certain communities in regards to social injustices, fundraising, etc.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I find that there’s a lot of room for improvement at SF State, and that currently, we have Covid, we have social injustices and then we have mental health that we need to address and that we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can for our students this upcoming fall when schools open up, which is a little bit scary. I want to bring students into the political discussion and administrative discussion, where our agendas rely on the students.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I’m not looking for praise, I’m not looking for recognition, I’m not looking for something to put on my resume, or a thank you. I’m here because I care about your finances, I care about your housing situation, I care about your mental health, I care about your relationship and I care about your representation. 

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I worked with the president of the board of supervisors Shamann Walton, advocating and fighting for Black reparations, mental health, access to education, access to housing and more. I’m willing to put in the endless nights for your voices to be heard. I come from an underrepresented community. My homeland, Yemen, is currently facing a humanitarian crisis that suffers the calamities of an epidemic, a pandemic and a proxy war. What I did is I used my skills organizing and fundraising and community building to make tens of thousands of dollars that I now use to employ on the ground teams to distribute water tanks and humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.

 

What will be the first thing you will do if elected?

One of the very first things that I want to do other than my agenda that I stated earlier, is I want to approach the semester a little bit differently. I want to target funding. Without funding, our plans don’t really matter. I can go on and on and tell you, “I want to do this and this and that,” but without the funding, those are just words.

 

If you’re on a slate, can you talk about your platform?

My slate, Voice for Gators, is composed of compassionate individuals of all backgrounds who are tired of being talked over. Associated Students have the authority to push agendas with the administration and local legislators, however there’s a relationship barrier between our current Associated Students and our student body at large that we want to break. Students deserve to be part of the discussion which is why students should start by exercising their right to vote. 

We’re not running to enhance our resumes, receive a thank you, praise or recognition. We care about your safety and security, mental health, housing situation, finances, feelings, relationships and your representation. 

 

Why is AS important to you?

Associated Students has authority and has the power to work with the admin and to work with local legislators. They’re the ones we need to rely on, and that’s why I’m running. I think I’m the person that will represent you the best. If it means that I have to miss out on sleep, then guess what? I’m not going to sleep.

 

Lee Lockhart is running for president in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election.(Kyran Berlin / Golden Gate Xpress) (Kyran Berlin)

Lee Lockhart, Gators for Equity

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have four siblings, I love nature, I love being outdoors: I love hiking, I love camping and I love fishing. I’ve hiked Mount Whitney, which is the tallest mountain in the continental United States. Last year, I studied abroad in England for the entire academic year so I’m a big advocate for study abroad. 

 

Why are you running for office? 

I’ve been in AS before, so I’ve seen a lot of the cultural systemic issues that seemed to be repeating themselves. And I think there have been a lot of my predecessors, a lot of my colleagues who have challenged the system and tried to change it, but I think there’s a lot of people who contribute to the culture.

 

Why should students vote for you?

AS as a whole, for too long, has centered the voices of the same students over and over again. The reason I’m running for office, the reason students should vote for me, is because me and my slate have really taken the opportunity to change that, to really make sure that we’re centering the voices of underrepresented student groups, and make sure that those voices are involved in the conversation. But I think even outside of that, we have to remember that AS is a small group of students, and although we want to make sure that we’re centering the underrepresented voices, we need to make sure that we’re not just coming to AS when problems happen, I think this is getting more into why students should vote for Gators for Equity. AS as a whole really needs a big cultural reset on what we see student government as and how we can best support students on campus. AS has a real opportunity to make sure that students feel heard, because at the end of the day, we’re their representatives, we’re not there representing ourselves, we’re representing students. 

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I have been VP Internal, LCA rep, and freshman representative. My other qualifications come from [Black Student Union]. I’m the Financial Officer of BSU, but I think where my real qualifications come from is service-oriented advocacy. I think a lot of times, people don’t recognize how important it is to give community service, to be involved in the communities that are most affected by issues going on. And I’m not just talking about the times when Black Lives Matter is happening, when Stop AAPI Hate is happening, when these issues are happening. It’s not just about being involved in that moment. In that instance, it’s about being involved the entire time, because these aren’t just trends, these are peoples’ identities.

 

What will be the first thing you will do if elected?

The first thing I want to do if elected is to make sure students feel safe coming back to campus. Our AAPI community is hurting right now and needs to see actionable change in getting back to a comfortable campus. We also need to make sure students feel safe coming back with vaccines, testing, and social distancing.

 

If you’re on a slate, can you talk about your platform?

Our slate is focused on changing the culture of AS. For too long AS has not been involved in the campus community and silenced or ignored the voices of marginalized students who challenged that system, especially Black and Women voices. The fight for more underrepresented voices to be empowered in these conversations will be continued by our slate because all of us know what it’s like to be talked over, we know what it’s like to not have our identities taken seriously, or to hear people speak for you and more often than not speak over you. Our slate is dedicated to making a new culture of AS not resting upon the old traditions that got us to this disconnected community we have today. 

 

Why is AS important to you?

AS is important to me because it’s both a place where students can advocate for better resources, more support, and more services all whilst embracing your identity, your culture, and those of others. AS is important to me because I see the potential of it. I see AS being a real community partner who’s involved with our student orgs, who’s involved in residential life, who’s involved in academic affairs, etc., but not involved to amplify their own voices and their own narratives — involved to amplify the voices of marginalized students. 

 

Vice President of External Affairs

James Aguilar is running for vice president of External Affairs in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Kyran Berlin / Golden Gate Xpress) (Kyran Berlin)

James Aguilar, Students for Equity and Accountability

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a third year, I am so hoping to get into the humanities grad program next year. My hometown is San Leandro, I live in San Leandro, but I will never forget, I was raised in Oakland, I am rooted in Oakland and the East Bay. I am just a BART ride away.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I see the work that we can do. In the past year, I’ve had the honor of being director of government and community relations. I’ve been in the room with our legislators. I’ve been in the room with the Board of Supervisors here in the city and county of San Francisco, and people like speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of Congress, and we have begun to build those relationships necessary to start advocating for our students. We historically have not built relationships with the city and county nor have we built relationships with their respective agencies, and it’s time for the VP of External Affairs to do that.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I want to be able to continue the work that I’ve done as director of academic community relations and move it forward. I also think what’s really important is our representation statewide. I’m currently an active member of the Cal State Student Association, I am a member of the board of directors and hoping to build my advocacy efforts with the Cal State student Association, because there’s a lot that we can do there — there’s a lot of initiatives that we can push forward at a statewide level on behalf of San Francisco State’s campus.

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I have experience that I don’t think a lot of other students have. I am an elected official. I’m a school board member in San Leandro, proudly elected in 2018, and am now the youngest elected official in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also work on a various number of nonprofits, I was the first student to be ever appointed to the SF State Foundation’s board of directors, and I have the relationships necessary to push this position forward, and really build trust in Associated Students that we haven’t had in the past.

 

What makes you the best representative for AS?

I would like to think this is about the vice president of External Affairs, but this is really about you as students. I’m here to make sure that you are represented and to make sure that you can lead the conversation too. We need more students at the table and let’s be real, we need more representation with the administration and with respect to the rooms that we’re in with legislators, with our Board of Supervisors. We need more students to lead the conversation, and I want to be a driver for that.

 

What will you push for as primary representative for AS if elected?

There’s a lot of work that we need to do. So what I mean by that is really to advocate for things like fully funding California State University’s basic needs programming across all 23 CSUs. That’s some of the work that I’ve been doing at the Cal State Student Association — fighting for just that. I am also fighting for doubling the Pell Grant and fighting for funding across the board, that we need to make sure that our universities are uplifted and that we can take care of ourselves.

 

Why do you think student representation is important and how will you advocate for it?

I think that representation is important. As you know, as the 1968 student strikes affirmed, students are the number one voice in the room when it comes to education, the number one stakeholder in this conversation. So with your vote, I will make sure that you’re at the table with me, that we are at the table advocating for these things together and really promoting that student voice is not to be messed with. Student Voice is the cornerstone of our education and we are going to advocate for the things that matter.

 

Ja’Corey Bowens is running for vice president of External Affairs in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Lea Loeb / Golden Gate Xpress) (Lea Loeb)

Ja’Corey Bowens, Gators for Equity

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m majoring in Africana Studies, sociology. I’m currently involved in residential life as well as currently serving as Associated Students board. This year, I’ve had the honor of being able to serve as the UPD ad hoc committee chair, as well as serving as the vice chair for the social justice and equity committee, where I’ve been able to work on a lot of projects with students coming to Associated Students from the concerns specifically with the social justice-oriented aspect of student life.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I decided to run for vice president of External Affairs because of the dire need for change in the way our students are advocated for. Not only have BIPOC voices been silenced by the administration, but they are rarely empowered and uplifted by the student leaders chosen to represent them. Some believe that activism has no place in the role of an AS representative, but I believe that that undermines the core values and work of the students who fought against an oppressive administration during the 1968 ethnic studies strike. They fought to make sure our voices were heard. If elected, I plan on honoring their legacy by empowering the voices of our students across the campus.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I believe students should vote for me because I have a proven track record of not only holding the administration accountable, but I’ve purposely and thoughtfully engaged in conversations with President Mahoney, vice president Beth Hellwig, as well as Chief Parsons, the chief of police. In these conversations, I’ve made sure the admin provides actionable plans that are being followed and when they’re not followed, having larger discussions with more board members involved or getting students involved to be aware of what’s going on.

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I currently serve as the chair of the UPD ad hoc committee, as well as the vice chair of the Social Justice and Equity Committee, as well as being in our second year RA in Residential Life, where I recently got hired to be a project assistant for the summer and for fall, specifically for social justice. In AS I had a lot of wonderful experiences, most of them dealing with supporting marginalized communities, specifically BIPOC communities. I’ve been very involved with pushing forward the Black Lives Matter initiative that has taken place amongst the administration and I’m hoping that I can continue that if elected.

 

What makes you the best representative for AS?

I have no ulterior motives, I’m genuinely here for our students. At the end of the day we are all students and we owe solidarity to one another. One community’s issue is all of ours, and these communities’ voices deserve to be heard. All my decision making is student-first-oriented. I will work with the admin for the betterment of our students but never to their [students’] detriment. My track record shows that I am not one to shy away from having these tough conversations with the administration. If I’m not fighting and advocating for students, then I’m not doing my job. 

 

What will you push for as primary representative for AS if elected?

I feel like the main thing is ensuring that we’re having conversations pertaining to the safety of our AAPI students as they return back to campus. This year, through my job as ethnic studies representative, I had the opportunity to listen to a lot of AAPI students and share their concerns of how they do not feel safe, and how the university does not adequately provide spaces of healing and spaces for these conversations to take root. My first thing is wanting to talk to state legislators specifically within our community, and seeing what we are going to be able to do to support AAPI students, and not just on campus, but within the San Francisco Bay. I also want to make sure that we’re holding the administration accountable for our Black Lives Matter initiative, which hasn’t really taken the shape that many black students have wanted it to take.

 

Why do you think student representation is important and how will you advocate for it?

Representation is important, because to me, being a student leader provides opportunities for other students to get involved and be able to be represented in the conversations that impact them. It’s not good enough to have a seat at the table, but they need to be leading the conversations that most impact them. I would be looking forward to giving a platform to student leaders in student orgs and within our community who are doing great work because I think that a lot of times when we have social change on our campus, it’s because of the direct result of the students who are putting in that work — as seen in the 1968 ethnic studies strike.

 

Joselyn Ascencio, Independent

Declined request for an interview.

 

Vice President of Internal Affairs

Fatimah Ogunmowo is running for vice president of Internal Affairs in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Ellie Doyen / Golden Gate Xpress) (Ellie Doyen)

Fatimah Ogunmowo, Gators for Equity

Tell us a little about yourself.

I love watching TV movies and I’m on YouTube a lot, and I even have my own YouTube channel. Other than that, I like to do arts and crafts and to hang out with my friends as well.

 

Why are you running for office? 

With my time at SF State, I’ve been involved in a lot of programs and throughout those programs and organizations, I have been able to grow a love for this campus and the people on it. With that being said, you can find the flaws in some of the things that you love. As the VP Internal, I would want to work along with my potential board members and rectify these flaws. A lot of students have no idea what AS is or does and I want to change that. I want all students to hold the same love for this campus that I do, but that is not possible until the campus truly meets their needs. I want AS to be more personable and accessible to all students on campus and commuters.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I’m about the students, period. I think all SF State students need to know that Associated Students are here for them and are ready to listen to them. I think that actions speak louder than words, and I’m personally ready to accomplish the goals and tackle any obstacles that may come in the way of that. I want students to know that the board is listening and here and has their best interests at heart. I am really excited to do that, and I’m so proud of my slate as well, Gators for Equity, who are all truly like-minded individuals.

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I’m an RA and I’ve been an RA for two years going on my third. I’m the Leadership Development Officer of the Black Student Union. I’m also a peer mentor, an extension of an outside program called C5LA. As a graduate of that program, I take care of freshmen or just new students that are coming to SF State, so I mentor them. And then outside of SF State, I am the vice president of the Alumni Board of that same organization.

 

What will you do differently to inform students of the programs AS has to offer?

I would make sure that AS members are actively attending AS programs and meetings when they can. I think some part of the problem in the past was the disconnect between the student body and AS, because nobody really knew who they were. I also would like to try and be more creative when it comes to informing students and putting information out there. I feel like when I say make videos or make TikToks, it might sound like not a good idea, but I think it’s important to try and appeal to the students in a different way. Obviously, the information is important and it’s important that as many students see that as possible.

 

How do you plan on working with management to accomplish your goals?

I’ll personally just plan on hopefully having a clear line of communication with the administration, as transparency is very important in this very difficult time especially. In order to reach our goals, I think it’s important that we hold each other accountable as well. Organization is key as well: coming to meetings prepared and creating timelines for our goals would be extremely beneficial.

 

Why should students care about AS programs?

Students should care about programs because they are there for them and the people running these programs really care about the students. SF State is this huge commuter school as well and ultimately, I just think that students should care because these places provide safe spaces for communication and for people to really share how they’re feeling about something.

 

Jainam Shah is running for vice president of Internal Affairs in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Kyran Berlin / Golden Gate Xpress)

Jainam Shah, Students for Equity and Accountability

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a first-generation international student and have been in this country for about three years now. I’m heavily invested in our campus, and I’m here to provide equitable access to education to all students at SF State. I am a student leader wanting to serve the gator population in ways that they have all the resources and services they would need in order to graduate on time and have the best campus experience.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I’m running to be your next VP of Internal Affairs because I want to improve the internal structure of Associated Students so that in turn, we can use our resources very wisely and be accountable to all of our students.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I’ll hit the ground running from day one. I’m someone who will always be here to listen to you. Vote for me, and I’ll make sure to include you in discussions and conversations that affect you.

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I’ve been involved in AS serving as the College of Science and Engineering representative for this past year. I’ve been involved in many other campus clubs and organizations, one of which is SF Hacks. I’m also the youngest co-founder of my company called Food Haven. Working 20 hours a week has helped me gain a lot of experience with time and resource management and leadership.

 

What will you do differently to inform students of the programs AS has to offer?

One idea I have is of using meals to communicate what services the Associated Students offer. So sending out one meal per semester to all students would help us not only to reach out to all students, but also their family members. Social media is always going to be on the platter, so we could improve the strategies and reach out to more people through that. But an even more important step is to work on the SF State website to include Associated Students resources, so that everyone who’s visiting that website is able to see, and is aware, that these resources are offered by Associated Students on their campus for free.

 

How do you plan on working with management to accomplish your goals?

I think management and student leadership go hand in hand. I’ll pitch my ideas to management the same way I pitch my ideas for my startup: I’ll clearly define the problem and show how the solution helps in solving that problem, [and] also how the solution is feasible and how that impacts our student population. I’ll be ready to take and listen to any criticism that is given to me and use that to strengthen my pitch. I’ll also hold [administration] accountable so that these goals are actually correlating to actions and we see the change on our campus.

 

Why should students care about AS programs?

Associated Students is built on student voices. AS is here to serve each and every student on our campus. You can be coming from any part of the world, but when you’re a gator at SF State, Associated Students is here to serve and support you in all the needs that you have. We have student leaders who are ready to advocate for or with you so that you could focus on getting the best education, for which you are here.

 

Vice President of Finance

Nia Hall is running for vice president of Finance in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Ellie Doyen / Golden Gate Xpress)

Nia Hall, Gators for Equity

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a first-year graduate student in the College of Education studying for a master of arts degree in education, with an emphasis in equity and social justice. I’m also a recent alumna of San Francisco State, where I graduated in December of 2020 with my bachelor of arts degree in Africana Studies and a minor in education.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I am running for VP of Finance, as I am committed to advocating for financial transparency and support. During this time, it is more important than ever for students to know where their money is going and how it is being utilized. Some of the goals I have as the next VP of Finance include making the student club and organization funding process more efficient, and also advocating for the allowance of funding for students to attend conferences for professional and academic development.

 

Why should students vote for you?

As a recent alum and current graduate student here at SF State, along with being an active member of various clubs and organizations, including the first Black Student Union, and as a student leader within our department of Residential Life, my peers can attest to my ability to oversee implementation of goals and projects, as well as lead teams and group work.

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

My qualifications for student government include serving as the former treasurer of the Associated Students for my community college back in my hometown of Stockton, California. I have served in Associated Students here at San Francisco State as the elections commissioner and on the board of directors as the former College of Ethnic Studies representatives. With my experience being on the board, I know that I have knowledge that I can easily bring into this role.

 

What programs do you think AS should be allocating their budget to?

I think programs AS should be allocating their budget to — especially in regards to what the VP of Finance is in charge of — is to the clubs and organizations overseen by Student Activities and Events. The AS VP of Finance oversees the budget that is allocated for our student clubs and organizations. I would definitely like to see Programs like Project Rebound more advertised as it is a program that has helped community members reintegrate back into the education system, along with so many others.

 

Is there anything you plan on doing differently compared to previous administrations?

I along with my running mates from our slate, Gators for Equity, intend to sit on a board that centers the voices of our underrepresented student populations and prioritizes and preserves the history of student activism on this campus.

 

How do you plan on being transparent with students as to where their money is going?

I plan to hold open forums for student clubs, organizations and the entire campus community to allow them to see the AS budget and ask them where they would like to see that money going. I also plan to work closely with the AS AED [Assistant Executive Director] of Finance to learn more about the assets and liabilities of AS and how we can navigate them as we go along the academic year.

 

Rashid Abdul Rahiman, Students for Equity and Accountability

No answers given at time of publishing.

 

Shriya Yegalapati, Independent

No answers given at time of publishing.

 

Vice President of Social Justice and Equity

Micah Dayag, Students for Equity and Accountability

No answers given at time of publishing.

 

Mykelle DeyTiole is running for vice president of Social Justice and Equity in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Kyran Berlin / Golden Gate Xpress) (Kyran Berlin)

Mykelle DeyTiole, Voice for Gators

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, in my spare time I like to watch anime with my wife, I like to read, write and journal and I love to exercise and practice Taekwondo also.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I really want to make sure that the student voice is being heard. I want to be able to utilize my skill sets and my abilities to uplift the community as much as possible.

 

Why should students vote for you?

Well first, I am the students, I am from the students. I know what it feels like to not be heard and not be listened to and just stepped over. And I’ve worked my way up through these hoops that we have to jump through to understand the process.

 

What are your qualifications? Have you been on AS in the past?

I have served as a voting member in the student government. I’ve also been in leadership positions and held executive officer positions. And many student organizations such as the Men of Color Association, and pan African Union.

 

How do you plan on amplifying student voices?

I really want there to be approachability. I feel as if sometimes people in high ranking positions, high officer positions — positions of power in general — really are sometimes abrasive and even condescending. I want the students to know that they can come to me and that their issues are mine, and we can work together.

 

What social justice initiatives would you like to see put in place?

One thing that I really want to work on is transparency, I’ve noticed that regardless of the university, big or small, things can just get swept under the rug. There’s been a lot going on in the world, and I’ve only seen or heard of certain professors speaking on these issues. I feel like we need to take time to slow down and for there to be public statements from our faculty, from our staff, saying, “Hey, times are rough and we want you to know that we’re here for you.”

 

How do you plan on creating a more equitable campus climate?

I want to make sure that students have the resources that they need. I want to make sure that they have the materials [they need] because I feel like as a university, we focus on education — that is very important, but at the same time, we are also a full-functioning system in itself. Students should be able to have their basic needs met. They should be able to have food. We should be able to provide that.

 

Tyler Lewis, Gators for Equity

No answers given at time of publishing.

 

Vice President of Facilities and Operations

Anna Weiner is running for vice president of Facilities and Operations in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Kyran Berlin / Golden Gate Xpress)

Anna Weiner, Voice for Gators

Tell us a little about yourself.

As far as my on-campus involvement, I am a member of our women’s cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams, where I do long distance events. I’m also in a leadership position on the San Francisco State Hillel, a Jewish student organization where I help do advocacy and organize educational events about the Jewish community.

 

Why are you running for office? 

I’m a teacher of students with intellectual and learning disabilities, ranging from mild to severe. I have several years of training and in-person experience working with students that meet these special needs, and I want to bring that work here on campus because it’s something that I’m really passionate about.

 

Why should students vote for you?

I’m the most qualified candidate, as I’m the only candidate with all of the years of training in disability work. I’m also the only candidate with lots of experience in childcare. Additionally, every platform I’ve put out is something that is completely doable, and it’s also been approved by our disability services, CAPS and Student Health Services, and as I continue to meet with those groups, I will continue to expand that list, that way I can do things that tangibly improve the lives of our students. There’s a lot that can be done within the realm of this position that doesn’t involve pie-in-the-sky promises that I may not be able to fund or may not be able to complete. And so I only want to promise things that I know for a fact that I can do if elected in this position.

 

How do you plan on facilitating a safe reopening of campus in the fall?

At this point in time, it’s really hard to tell exactly how much PPE we’re going to need to reopen in the fall. But as soon as we find out that information, our student advocates need to ensure that we are getting the proper materials to stay safe. As a statistician, I plan on finding exactly what we need and taking those numbers to our administrators and then also making those numbers public. That way, if our administrators do not follow through with what we need, the students will know exactly what we needed and exactly where our administrators fall short, and they will know exactly how to hold them accountable. Because if you use vague [language], like “We need more masks or we need more of this,” it’s very easy to push that aside, but you can’t push aside, “We need 10 gallons of hand sanitizer per floor and we need that updated every two weeks.”

 

Where have you seen SF State lacking in terms of accessibility?

First as it is, it’s very difficult for students to find what services we do offer and we don’t offer, and it’s so confusing that even our health care workers, when they’re trying to help us, can’t find what we need. For example, we don’t offer any diagnosing services. For the most part, there are a few exceptions, but not many. You have to get diagnosed off campus. We also don’t offer a lot of treatment for things like autism or ADHD. My second platform is going to be creating informational campaigns about vaccines and about autism. Anytime there’s a big vaccine rollout, there’s mention of a fraudulent 1997 study claiming that autism and vaccines are linked. So we need to get out ahead of that misinformation both because we want our students to get vaccinated and because we want to support our neurodivergent students who are also facing a lot of discrimination right now. Third, we are getting a new social worker at health services and I want to poll the student body to figure out what kinds of off-campus services they are most looking for. That way, whoever we do hire is someone who has the same passions and desires as our student body and can help us access those important resources. Lastly, I’ve been talking to our disability services, and they have a lot of limitations about how much education they can give to the student body and how much personal information they can ask from students. So I would like to do lots of polling on disability information. That way our disability services know what they’re working with.

 

How will you be transparent with the student body regarding their student fees?

The current Associate Students is working on making those making that public to the student body. Other than making sure that the information is up to date, I won’t really have a role in making that knowledge public.

 

What are your plans to work with the Early Childhood Education Center to ensure that their operations remain safe?

I am a teacher of students, as I mentioned, ages six through 13. And I love working with kids, and I see the concerns that my school has about reopening as far as making sure that we have masks that are the appropriate size. As far as I’ve seen from our childcare centers, they’ve done a fantastic job of keeping our children safe and keeping them protected. So I would like to continue to support them and get them what they need so they [can continue] doing the great work that they’ve already been doing.

 

Tatiana Orellana, Gators for Equity

No answers given at time of interview.

 

Vice President of Academic Affairs

Jennifer Valencia is running for vice president of Academic Affairs in SF State’s Spring 2021 Associated Students election. (Lea Loeb / Golden Gate Xpress) (Lea Loeb)

Jennifer Valencia, Independent

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Capricorn sun, Pisces moon, Scorpio rising. I am also a first-generation college student, Latinx and a tour guide here at SF State. Being that it is my third year — going into my last year here at SF State — it’s always been a dream of mine to work in higher education and help restructure institutions to ensure that students have equitable and accessible experiences on any campus they find themselves in.

 

Why are you running for office?

I am a firm believer that SF State should create pathways to graduation through academics, not barriers. However, time and time again we have seen administration, and leadership in academic colleges not be transparent with students, and have as a result deterred students from their academic success. 

 

You’re the only person running, what are your plans once in office?

  • Address academic barriers that disproportionately inhibit the success of historically underrepresented communities of color. 
  • Establish a clear and structured form of communication and transparency from [the university] to students within academic colleges and vice-versa. 
  • Promote cross-campus collaboration within academic departments to support academic student organizations in their career based endeavors.
  • Address concerns of equity and racial/social injustice within academia. 
  • Resolve concerns with complimentary studies and cross-curricular courses to ensure that students are able to graduate on time. 
  • Increase transparency and work to create more spaces for student input to be present.
  • Hold frequent open forums to continue to address past, present, and potential experiences of our campus community.

 

The six-year graduation rate for first year students is at 55%, do you have any plans to bolster retention?

A big issue with our retention in terms of academics has to do with the lack of transparency and guidance with advising, resources, networking, etc. While some of these retention issues are works in progress, one of my biggest plans is organizing a masterlist of resources on campus for all students to benefit from, in addition to working with advising to host workshops on how to navigate alternatives to advising. Hopefully, being able to implement these structural changes within orientation and the first-year experience [will] set students up for success from the beginning of their time here at State.

 

How do you plan on representing students in the Academic Senate?

I plan on bringing forth feedback that I receive from college reps, and the feedback they receive from students within their colleges into the Academic Senate. I also hope to have a student at large designee from time to time to allow students who are not in these privileged spaces to be a part of the conversation. Another thing, ensuring as many students are in these committees as possible.

 

Your platform talks about eliminating barriers that have inhibited the success of underrepresented communities of color, can you elaborate on this?

Racial and social injustices have plagued academia for way too long. When we talk about barriers that occur in a classroom for BIPOC students — it’s microaggressions; it’s discrimination; it’s lack of cultural competency; it’s disregarding intersectional experiences; it’s being inaccessible towards students who identify as differently abled. I began work with JEDI PIE, which is a university committee with a dedication to providing trainings to professional staff, faculty and administration on how to effectively understand equity at our university. Currently, about 70% of faculty have voluntarily participated in these trainings. However, that means that we need to address the 30% that haven’t participated, as well as continue to hold people in academics accountable for their abilities to serve any and all students.

 

How do you plan on addressing student concerns in office?

I plan on having continued open forums, participating in community events, utilizing social media, reaching out to students in my own colleges, through my own on campus jobs, etc. I am an outreacher and active listener at heart, so I am committed to making sure all of my work is at the discretion of students and their own past, current, and future needs.

To vote in this year’s AS election, click here.

About the Contributors
Photo of Matthew Faludi
Matthew Faludi, Staff Reporter

Third-year Journalism major with a minor in Anthropology at SF State. Originally from Orange County but now residing in the outer Sunset. Campus arts and...

Photo of Cameron Lee
Cameron Lee, Photographer

Cameron Lee, fourth year photojournalism major, is a San Francisco native and freelance photographer. He's into everything tech, photography, and eighties...

Photo of Ellie Doyen
Ellie Doyen, Photographer

Ellie Doyen (she/her) is set to graduate this semester with a major in Journalism and a minor in Labor Studies. She would not be able to finish her degree...

Photo of Lea Loeb
Lea Loeb, Staff Reporter

Writer, traveler, journalist, part-time teacher and perpetual student who runs on coffee and conspiracy theories.

Lea Loeb is a 25 year old writer from...

Photo of Kyran Berlin
Kyran Berlin, Online Editor

Kyran is a fourth-year, LA-based student majoring in Print & Online Journalism and minoring in Criminal Justice Studies at SF State. Despite moving...

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