Election 2011: Vice President Candidates

by Tom Hammel

Jeff Plourd, Darin Ruiz and Joe Stewart discuss what qualifies them for the VP seat. Which one will get you vote? Questions by Tom Hammel, Opinion Editor.

TH: What past experience do you have that makes you qualified for the Vice President position of Associated Students?

Jeff Plourd: Well, in regards to my experience I’ve accumulated in three years at San Diego State, first off, I’d like to mention that I’ve been in Associated Students for two and a half, since the second semester of my freshman year. In that time, I’ve held numerous leadership positions. Some of which are A.S. council representative for the college of professional studies and fine arts, Vice chair of the University Affairs board, Vice president of External affairs for the college of professional studies and fine arts college council and I am also an A.S. executive committee member.

Through that, I believe I have the prerequisite knowledge of the organization as a whole and on the other side of that I am a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity for the first three years of my experience here at SDSU, including two years as an executive officer, as well as one year’s term as president.

Joe Stewart: You said I only have two and a half minutes? *Moderator nods, “Yeah”.* Alright we’ll try to get through this. I was homeless in my youth so I’ve seen the world from a different angle that few have seen. I did serve in the United States Marine Core, which teaches a lot about leadership and fortitude. Since my time at San Diego State, I’ve served on the executive board, and have held a few different positions in the Student Veteran Organization.

I also have also staunchly challenged A.S. to hold themselves to a higher standard, challenging them on the Modern Space ordeal in Spring of 2010. And I’ve been keeping a close view on the bylaws but I don’t think that leadership is about the titles that you’ve held, but the people that you’ve changed when you held those titles. And I believe that fortitude  is important and not just reinforcing the status quo. It’s standing up and representing the student body at large.

Darin Ruiz: Well, currently with A.S., I sit on the external affairs board, as well as the facilities board, where I am a very active voice. I was pivotal in the naming of the new buildings for the student union, where half of my ideas were given to the new rooms. I am also a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, where I was the President over the past year as well as the homecoming delegate and the social chairman.

TH: What are your three main goals for your Vice Presidency?

JP: Alright, well my three main goals actually revolve around one thing, and that’s to bring the student body together, and the first step to that is communication with the students, whether that be through social media, visiting organizations, or campus sign-ins, whatever you need to do to reach the students is what I plan on doing with my term. The second part of that is developing leadership and one of the biggest projects I’ve been working on through my position as vice chair of University affairs board is the Co-curriculuar transcript.

“My three main goals actually revolve around one thing, and that’s to bring the student body together, and the first step to that is communication with the students, whether that be through social media, visiting organizations, or campus sign-ins”
Jeff Plourd

It’s a document that legitimizes the leadership that you’ve had on this campus and allows you to take it with you after you graduate from college. Lastly, to get students excited about some of the things that are happening on campus, especially athletics and one thing I want to do is rally students behind the different athletic teams that have found success in recent years and will have again in this next year, by having tailgates, quash parties and a number of other successful events so that we can really get people excited about what’s going on here on campus, and to get them to have more of a campus community here and an overall better college experience here at SDSU.

JS: Well, I believe that communication is important and that’s a big part of the role of being Vice President, working as exoficio members of all the councils and boards, as well as working with the university and trying to bring the organizations, the representation together. My goal is to understand how to get more students involved and get us beyond just a mere 10% of students voting in our elections. I want to see the common student represented, not just the students who are trying to stack their resumes, but I’m not calling names, I promise. I also believe that there’s too much conflict of interest in A.S., that there are members of the council that sit on boards that are intended to be oversight of the council and I would want to put an end to that immediately.

“I want to see the common student represented, not just the students who are trying to stack their resumes, but I’m not calling names, I promise.”
Joe Stewart

I feel too that A.S. is a very powerful organization, with a budget that hovers around $20 million annually, and we don’t realize, I think we take that for granted, just how involved we are with the University Administration and so I think when things happen like U.S. Bank being brought on as the campus bank when USE has been here much longer and is here for students and employees of the university and charges much lower fees and penalties, I think that we have a responsibility as the representative government to challenge the University to look out for our best interests, it’s not just the bottom line.

DR: My three main goals are sustainability, leadership development, and communication. These are the three main goals that me, and my running mate Cody Barbo sat down, he’s a long time friend of mine, and we put a lot of thought into making these goals. These are also goals that are outlined in the A.S. bylaws and first thing, for sustainability, we want to keep pushing for this LEED Platinum student union. It’s going to be built in the next couple years, but we want to keep the initiative going.

Facilities like the Mission Bay Aquatic Center and the Aquaplex are all fully sustainable off the solar panels that they have. I want to be able to push this into the ARC. A majority of the students on campus use the ARC, one of our ideas is that we put the bikes and treadmills and self-sustainable so that they power the whole ARC. That’s something we’ve been looking into. Also, for leadership development, one thing that I find dismal is that three of these executive positions are running unopposed as well as last year, where four of the executive positions ran unopposed. I believe this is not because people don’t desire to run for these positions, it’s because leaders aren’t being developed to give the tools and the know-how to have these positions.

I want to identify young leaders, young stars in the organizations, and put them through leadership development programs and be able to develop them into leaders so they can have the confidence and the tools to hold these positions. Lastly, communication. I feel that A.S. has kind of failed at getting to the students in being apparent to them. I believe that through an initiative called Aztec T.V., this would be a Youtube channel created by the Associated Students Exec board. Through this Aztec T.V., we would create short, bi-weekly messages where we would tell the students what is going on the campus, what positions are available, what athletes are doing what, and this will give the students more know-how and have more visibility for A.S. execs. I want to have students come up to me and tell me what they want, what they need, and through this Aztec T.V. they will be able to see me, and know me, and be able to approach me and tell me what they want I will be able to serve my constituents.

TH: Many of the executives from Associated Students have come from the Greek Community in the past. Do you think this has a more positive or negative effect on student representation here on campus, and why?

JP: That’s a good question. I myself am from the Greek Community. I think that the Greek Community does have a lot to offer. In general, I think that leaders to come out of those organizations so I think that in itself is positive. However, one negative I do see out of it is I feel that students that are in the position that are not in the Greek Community maybe feel intimidated or don’t have the same opportunities. I don’t want to ostracize that community in any way, shape, or form just because everyone should have an equal opportunity to become a leader on this campus and have their voice heard. One way I guess to comment on that and one thing I’d like to do in my term is just to reach out especially to the commuter students. I was born and raised in San Diego, I know what it’s like to not be living on this campus. I know what it’s like to not have that opportunity to be in the dorms. I have a lot of friends, in fact, a majority of the people where I’m from are in that situation so one of the things I’d like to do is really reach out to those students and make sure their voices are heard and have opportunities to be leaders on this campus in the same way that the Greek Community allows them to be.

JS: I think in principle, the Greek System is a great system and it offers a sense of community to individuals coming out of high school, leaving home for the first time, to have a network of friends and to build them to be something greater. I feel though, that the Greek System is a very small system, it’s a minority representation of the students on this campus and I also believe that there’s a strong negative stigma associated with the Greek System. I think that having an overwhelming number of representatives being Greek is probably, I know it was for me, off-putting in wanting to get involved in student government and with what’s going on here on campus. I mean, if you feel that one organization that is a minority on this campus is controlling everything, then what can you change? I believe that by leveling the playing field, by coming out and getting more people involved and showing them there’s good reason to be involved that we really can make an effective change.

DR: As a former fraternity President, I think that the Greek Community is a very positive thing on this campus. I believe it gives us the tools we need to be successful and to make life time connections with people they wouldn’t have come into contact with, if they would not have joined the organization. That being said, going back to my goals of leadership development. I think that if we create these leadership programs, where we can develop young leaders outside and inside the Greek Community, we’ll be able to reach people that aren’t only in the Greek Community.

“I think that if we create … leadership programs, where we can develop young leaders outside and inside the Greek Community, we’ll be able to reach people that aren’t only in the Greek Community.”
Darin Ruiz

There’s leaders out there that aren’t in the Greek Community that can make a change on this campus and it’s a matter of seeking them out. I think with these leadership programs, we will be able to find these people and give them the tools necessary to be successful because I think the benefit of the Greek Community and being in a Fraternity or Sorority, is you know the people that have the ambition on campus and they teach you and tell you what you need to do. So the people that aren’t in Greek don’t know these people because they don’t have these connections.

TH: Of the 34,000 students on our campus, no more than several thousand vote during A.S. elections. What do you have to say to those students who do not vote? Why does this election stand out in importance against the rest?

JP: Well I’m actually really glad you asked that question. I think it is extremely important for you to vote this year for a few reasons here. I’ll list them off. First off, in July, we’re having a new president of the university. And as you guys know, President Weber has done an excellent job of establishing shared governance with us, Associated Students, and if there is one thing that we need to do in this term, it is to build a new relationship with this new president and make sure he knows the voice of the students is important that listening to us is what is in his best interest. In addition to that, one of the other reasons to get out and vote is to support candidates that will effectively help us transition out of Aztec Center to the new student union center.

We have a new one that should be built and completed in approximately two years, however, in the mean time there’s going to be a lot of discomfort to say the least with a lot of the organizations on campus, a lot of the students with the construction that’s going on and it’s important that we have a candidate that knows exactly what’s going on with how everyone is going to be relocated and to where. And to make sure that information is effectively communicated. Those two are the biggest reasons I think you should go out and vote because your convenience and experience on campus is at stake and this year is a pivotal point in making sure that you guys can continue to have the college experience that you guys want to have.

JS: You know, democracy…This A.S. government is here to represent the student body and you don’t have to be in college, but you want to be here. I mean I know McDonald’s is hiring but none of us want that for ourselves. So if you’re going to be here at least involve yourself to the end of making sure that you are being represented. Back to the question about Greek, if you have primarily Greek representatives in A.S. how’s the rest of the student body being represented? I feel that in an executive position, it is important that the candidates not only have the knowledge, intellect, and familiarity with the bylaws and how A.S. works, but also has the fortitude to stand up for the students at large. You know, I’ve lived a bit, I’ve been through a lot of things but I’m no politician.

I’ve got no social alignment, I’ve got no special interest, I’m a guy just going to school trying to get my degree and do something better with my life. And while I’m doing that, I want to come back and effectively represent my fellow students. I will always hold myself to the highest level of integrity. My first priority and commitment will always be to my fellow Aztecs. I came as a transfer from the military much older than most students and I never felt any sense of pride for this campus upon my arrival. But after a year and a half of being here and getting to know the people around me,  being a part of The Show, you’re doing these things and I love San Diego State University, and I want to support you. My name is Joe Stewart, and listen, after this is done join me for a beer at Louie’s, alright?

DR: I think this election is very important because of the transition of the new president coming in. We need to make an impression on this new president that SDSU cares about our campus and that we have pride as being Aztecs. If we are able to establish this relationship, San Diego State will continue on its rise through the levels of institutions and Universities. Our recent success in scholastics and athletics have pushed us into the national spotlight. I think that something phenomenal is going to happen out here on the mesa and that if students start to care and vote for who they want to be in office and start having their voices heard, things like the budget cuts, leaders that are running unopposed will stop because people will start to show that they care. Last year, only 2,300 students voted on a 35,000 person campus.

This is something I find very unacceptable. I will do my best to get everyone that can to vote whether it’s for me, or not, because this is a democratic country and it’s important that you have your voice heard. I was actually having a conversation with a guy in one of my finance classes, he’s from Nepal, and we just started talking about A.S. and one thing he was talking about was “I don’t know why people don’t vote. You know, I’m from Nepal and people live on less than $1 a day. I come here and people won’t even vote. We don’t have universities there.” I just wanted you to keep in mind that we take this university for granted. This is a great university, it’s got multiple resources for you, and I’m going to be here, I’m your resource, so please vote for me, Darin Ruiz.

You Decide – Which candidate should win? VOTE NOW

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