Walking into Associated Students, Inc. President Jose Salazar’s office, one can feel a sense of business. Salazar had a long and daunting list of goals he’d pledged to accomplish while in office during the 2015-16 academic year, which begs the question: Has he achieved all these goals? In his mind the answer is, for the most part, yes.
Though lowering tuition goes beyond his jurisdiction of power, Salazar said he focused on getting more funding from the CSU; he got a grant to have a police officer sitting in on victims cases in an effort to combat sexual abuse on campus; his plan to create solar panels will be going forward this summer; and he said he is working on having internships in place in the summer for students regardless of their nationality and documentation in a mimic of UCLA’s Dream Summer program.
But he did not accomplish the creation of a bike shop for student rentals. Instead, Salazar has worked with the city and the university to establish city bikes in 50 locations within Long Beach and two on campus where residents are able to use the bikes and then drop them off in other city bike locations.
Having lost the 2016-17 ASI presidential election, Salazar’s time in office is almost over. The Daily 49er sat down to talk with Salazar about his time as student president.
Do you remember your first day as president and what was that like?
The first day was pretty empowering. I came here to the office and I couldn’t believe it, it felt surreal. I kept on trying to touch the walls to make sure they were real, remembering that this wasn’t a dream.
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What made you decide to run?
The reason I ran for president, to tell you the truth, was because it came out of a meeting in one of my social justice groups. We started talking about the necessity of having someone who wasn’t documented to lead the students and to help our community come out of the shadows and believe in themselves — to send a message to the students that our community is the community. We’re not all these things people call us. We wanted to end the prejudice and show [the students] that we are good people. I decided to run to be that first undocumented president to let our community know that if I can do it, so can you.
How has this current term been for you? What did you enjoy the most?
It’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride, it has its ups and it has its downs. I wanna build airplanes and spaceships but never got into one. This previous year, two days before my birthday, I got in an airplane being president. Finally fulfilling my dream, you know, flying in an aircraft. For many years knowing how hard it is to finally have a voice and finally be the voice of the representative, it’s definitely been a very valuable experience.
What kind of projects or goals have you been working on?
I have [my goals listed] on paper all the time next to me.
We set up meetings where we get the student body [or] anyone who wants to come by and ask us questions and keep us accountable. Last semester we did it three or four times, this semester for sure we already have three planned once a month, the February one should be coming up soon.
As for lowering tuition, I know this is a very hard goal to do, and I must admit I can’t finish it within my year. I talked to the legislators in Sacramento last year; we were able to get a robust funding of the CSU with $97 million from the budget of California; this year we’re trying to get $101 million which would be $4 million more to keep us at robust funding so we can keep a balanced tuition.
We are [also] going forward with the recommendation to change the executive pay of scholarships so we can make it inclusive for everyone who wants to run as an executive so they can be able to get paid for their job.
What challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?
Some of the not-so-good times probably [were at] the beginning of my semester, [it] was pretty rough. Learning how to actually do this position because when you do this position it’s not like you have a specific goal. Each president takes upon his own goals just like a regular politician would. Once I found out the right people to talk to for whatever specific case I wanted to do or whatever project I was working on, things got easier. The good outweighs the bad.
What qualities does the next person need to have to be president?
You’ve got to have the drive, first of all, ‘cause if you don’t have the drive it’s very hard to do the position. [Keep] up with your responsibilities, don’t be a slacker because then you have so much work hanging over you. Be responsible; have the the attitude that you really want this position and be able to work [with] others. The rest you can learn on your own like computer work, phone calls and meetings. As long as you have those three you should be fine.