Racial representation issues lace the discussions of the spring Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) elections which resulted in Adonis Galarza’s election for Presidency.
Many of the concerns primarily come from an issue of underrepresentation of the Black students.
Although CSUSB is a diverse campus, the majority, 63% of the student population, is Hispanic which designates it as a Hispanic-serving institution.
Princess Jackson, the President of the Black Student Union (BSU), feels that, even with Adonis Galarza as ASI’s President, some of the needs of the black community may still be neglected.
“I felt like the ASI elections were not pleasing, and don’t get me wrong, our new president is good, but he isn’t a great representation for everyone,” said Princess Jackson.
Representation is very important amongst the different social and cultural organizations, especially the African American student population with its already small population of 5% on campus.
Adonis Galarza will be the new ASI President for the 2019-2020 academic year with overwhelming support from his peers.
“I feel that race does matter. It’s really important, right, because if we say that race doesn’t matter, we would erase the narrative and the history that goes into play when race is really embedded into these higher education institutions,” stated ASI President Galarza.
Prince Ogidikpe (CQ), the previous ASI President, who is also African American, feels representation among the student body is extremely important.
“There are many different identities and so there is always a need to have representation of these identities, especially those who often are forgotten,” said Ogidikpe.
ASI, also known as Associated Students Inc, is the largest student-run organization on campus with the motto: “For the students, by the students.”
As the governing student organization, ASI aims to help the CSUSB student population with civic engagement through the election of student representatives, meeting and events.
Students who meet the requirements can run for the positions as one of the ASI board of directors for each of the respective colleges. However, one of the main focuses is the ASI presidential election.
On May 16, 2019, the CSUSB ASI Presidential election took place on campus, and it was a close race between African American, Yera Nanan (CQ), and, Hispanic, Adonis Galarza (CQ).
Before running for Presidency, Nanan was executive Vice President of ASI. He was also very active in many other clubs, organizations, and different programs on campus such as “Stranglin’ and Husslin,’” an event supporting low-income families, the Jam Session, showcasing open mic talents and athletes’ rights.
“During my position as the Executive Vice President, I was a support to the president. Whatever projects or committees the president was not able to attend, I took over his responsibilities and aligned with the mission statement of the corporation. I also spearhead my projects that oversee the student body,” said Nanan.
President Galarza was also a very popular candidate amongst the student population, especially among the Hispanic student population.
Alfredo Barcenas is the policy and legislative specialist in ASI. Barcenas stated that this has been one of the biggest elections they had in a while.
“The previous year, we had 17.1 percent vote, and this year we had 17.4 percent,” noted Barcenas.
Yera Nanan explains how the previous president, Prince Ogidikpe, popularized the ASI elections.
“I think Ogidikpe made it such a big deal to all the people that he knew, so everyone went out of their way to really vote for him so that he could win. A lot of that energy transferred into this election as well, and all of the candidates were very well-known,” noted Nanan. “And, with the vice president spot being unopposed, all of the attention went towards who was going to win the presidency.”
According to BSU President, Princess Jackson, the number of African American students on campus has been steadily decreasing over the past few years. She suggests that this is due to a feeling of being underrepresented.
“We have to work triple the amount for anything we want, and the one person [Nanan] that could have changed that for many minorities did not win, and our previous President helped us a lot to get to where we are now,” said Jackson.
Helen Martinez is the next Executive Vice President, and Cristy Robles is Vice President of Finance, while Yera Nanan will serve the campus in a non-ASI position in the SMSU.
There are no professors that oversee ASI, but there are three professionals on the board that support, advise, and guide the student body. They are: Executive Director of ASI, Jesse Felix, the Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Paz Maya Olivérez, and Assistant Professor from the Biology Department, Dr. Angela Horner.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, ASI plans to survey students for their input of what change they want to see happen. However, their priority is the transition from the quarter to semester system that will accommodate more foreign students and allow more study time, in general, for class curriculum.
Prince Ogidikpe is very optimistic about ASI’s future.
“The future of ASI is bright. I see a lot of emerging student-leaders stepping up to the table. There is so much work to be done on campus, so it’ll be great to see all that accomplished.”