As the semester comes to an end, Associated Students, Inc. President Marvin Flores and Vice President Logan Vournas are reflecting back on the accomplishments made this semester. While looking at what they have done, they also look forward to what they still plan to do next semester.
Flores and Vournas took time to sit down and discuss what is still left to do for the rest of their term.
What goals have you achieved so far this semester?
Vournas: For me, the biggest thing I was able to accomplish was the opening of the [ASI Beach Pantry] and all the work that went into that. One of Marvin and mine’s goals this year was to rebuild not only the relationship with ASI and the university, but more so ASI and our students. This entire semester, we worked really hard on trying to make ASI more representative for all our students. We’re trying to lead ASI in a more social justice-oriented position and more heavily working in solidarity with all our student organizations.
How exactly have you connected more with students and organizations?
Flores: By going out to talk to them face to face. I think Logan has been a big advocate. We both went out and talked to them and asked them: “What do you need?” I know with previous years, it’s always one of our goals for students to know we’re here for them. When we talk to them, we understand better what their needs and what they want instead of us assuming what is best for them.
How has the process been for the Food Bank and Swap Shop to get them up and running?
Vournas: It started about year – we built a relationship with Food Finders. We met up with them last summer and we were able to get all the information to make our food pantry better. The hardest part was finding a place for it. This previous summer is when a lot of it went into work. It was just a lot of work, it is creating a new entire program from scratch. Right now, the hardest thing is sustaining it for students. We are always trying to expand it so we should have a fridge by next semester, so we can have produce too.
What have you not been able to accomplish this semester?
Vournas: Something I have been working on that I am hoping to carry over next semester is the Queer Student Success Initiative. On our campus, we have initiatives like Men Success Initiative for Men of Color [and] Asian Pacific Islander, but we don’t really have anything specifically for queer students. Something I was really proud that we accomplished, that I want to further next semester, [was being]able to get a lot of gender-inclusive facilities on campus. For instance, in the Recreation Center we converted two single shower locker room spaces that were originally one male and one female into two gender-inclusive facilities, so that anyone – regardless of gender orientation – would be able to use it. Something I want to try to work on next semester is opening up a multi stall gender-inclusive bathroom stall on the campus. I have worked really closely with Mary Stevens, the vice president of finance for the university, and the facility management on converting all the single stalls into gender-inclusive facilities.
[pullquote speaker=”Logan Vournas, Associated Students Inc. vice president ” photo=”” align=”left” background=”on” border=”all” shadow=”on”]The biggest thing I want to do is help. I want to make sure when I leave, that we leave the university better than when we started. We want to make sure that the students know that they are supported and that we tried to do everything we could to make this campus better.[/pullquote]Flores: One of the goals I am continuing next semester is to put a freeze on tuition. To be able to go out and work with a variety of organization on campus and through the state to make sure we are not alone in this fight because in the end it will affect all of us. We want to make sure everybody understand that this is not something we are okay with.
What are your plans for next semester?
Vournas: Part of the plans for next semester are fighting potential increase, urging our university to invest responsibly. We want to work on getting parking sensors. So with the new license recognition software, a future step is having sensor on the structure so you know if the structure is full or not.
What are you doing in terms of the proposed tuition hike?
Vournas: They moved the vote for the tuition increase from January to March. There is a CSU Board of Trustees meeting in January and in March. So, what ASI is doing is trying to work really close with California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education to help mobilize our student body. The biggest impact we have seen is the power of protest and the power of democracy in the streets and having the ability to raise your own voice. We want to help mobilize and bring students to that meeting. So we are working with the CFA so we can [shuttle] students from the university to the CSU BOT meeting. As well, our Lobby Corps is going to be phone banking.
With the recent election results, what is ASI doing to calm concerns on campus regarding racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc?
Vournas: Something we did following the election, we brought out giant poster boards and white boards. We wrote on these poster boards “how are you doing,” “what are you thinking” and “what are you grateful for” just so students can have that outlook because a lot of times you don’t really know what to say. We saw hundreds of students throughout the day come cry with us, write on their board with us; we had snacks and we had places for people to color. Now we are working on writing a resolution with the ASI Senate to make CSULB a sanctuary campus for undocumented students as well as making a stand regarding everything our president-elect stands for to our student body. It is frightening, our students have been threatened and I have been threatened. It is important for us to stay strong. I do believe we need time to mourn, and after we take our time to mourn it is then time to mobilize.
What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?
Vournas: The biggest thing I want to do is help. I want to make sure when I leave, that we leave the university better than when we started. We want to make sure that the students know that they are supported and that we tried to do everything we could to make this campus better.
Flores: We are in here doing emails, helping students and hearing their concerns. But we are out there trying to meet students to see what they want from us. Last year we saw a lot of students didn’t have a lot of faith in ASI, and we both see that this is a very empowering experience that we get a chance to meet with administrative and being the voice of students. Being able to say that we are here for our students no matter what and support everyone as much as possible. If there are concerns, we can hear them so we can voice them to the university to resolve them.