Election 2011: President Candidates

by Tom Hammel

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Yuan (Tom) Guo, Kevin Gridl, Laura Moreno, Kris Korsgaden and Cody Barbo are each looking to become A.S. President. Read why they think you should choose them. Questions by Tom Hammel, Opinion Editor.

TH: Associated Students at SDSU is one of the largest student governance organizations in the entire CSU system. What past experience of yours makes you qualified to lead an independent corporation with a $23 million budget?

Yuan (Tom) Guo: First of all, I’m originally from Shanghai, China. And when I was young, I had a strong passion of learning English. When I was in middle school and high school I was the leader of the foreign affairs event and I really enjoyed having a lot of foreigners come to our school to visit. I brought them into different places and I hosted students, so basically, I had a great experience of hosting the foreign affairs with students from different countries and exchange visits. Especially under President Obama’s Administration, the U.S. should play the role of the lead of the world so I enjoy being here and being representative of globalization and diversity. Additionally, when I was in middle school and high school I managed the budget of the student’s association just for my school and I managed the budget for different kinds of activities such as the Chinese Spring Festival’s Performance. Typically, I had a great experience of doing that kind of thing which strongly supports me to make the $23 million of the budget of the Associated Student government. Thank you.

Kevin Gridl: First off, I want to thank you guys for coming out today. I sat on A.S. for a number of years now and I’ve been involved in over a dozen boards and committees within the organization. I currently serve as your president pro tempore of Associated Students council, a representative of the college of business, and the vice chair of the External Affairs board. Through my experience within Associated Students, as vice chair of external affairs one of my primary duties is to go out and talk to our local legislators on behalf of the students.

This is huge in this budget crisis; knowing how to talk to legislators in a way that is both effective and respectful to them, and getting student points across in a way that really represents the students, but at the same time motivates legislators and people higher up to get on our side and really understand the students’ point of view. Beyond that, serving as president pro tempore, I have a very in depth knowledge of how Associated Students works. I know all the bylaws like the back of my hand and I’ve worked with every different organization within Associated Students to ensure that they fulfill all their requirements and maintain their seat on council. Throughout my involvement I really have made an effort to work with a bunch of different organizations and really understand the different facets of this campus: where different students come from, what motivates them, and what really this student body needs. SDSU is a very diverse campus and you really need that involvement with a bunch of different organizations to know the different facets of campus and how to work with them and really represent the student body as a whole.

Cody Barbo: I currently am the interfraternity council president, it is one of the largest student organizations on campus. It consists of the ten fraternities, almost 800 members. In addition to my past experience, I was president of my fraternity Phi Kappa Theta with over 100 members, experiencing over a $100,000 budget and dealing with that making sure the funds were appropriated accordingly. In addition to that, I’m president of Order of Omega, which is a Greek Honor’s society here on campus. As far as A.S. experience goes, I have had a year’s experience on the university affairs board and a year and a half on the external affairs board. I spent a semester on the Greenfest Executive committee, as well as the communications committee. This experience has prepped me for this position because not only am I working with students, not just in Greek Life, but students of all lives and sorts. When I look around at the people here in the crowd, I’ve worked with you in the past in the four years that I’ve been here, the leadership, intellectual, and social development I’ve encountered is something I’d love to take as an experienced leader and as A.S. president.

Laura Moreno: Being here for four years, I’ve had different kinds of experience, I have been in A.S. as part of the facilities board and I have also been a part of the multi-cultural caucus. I am currently the president of MeCha at San Diego State, which is a student organization on campus, and I’m part of another student organization in the community, so I think that I am a well-diverse person that is able to understand what the students need and want on this campus, through A.S. and outside of A.S. and also from the community talking to high school students on a regular basis I am really understanding of what their needs are, especially from the lower income communities where a lot of the students like us come from.

Some of the experiences that I’ve had to be able to lead, to really understand where I come from, I’m from Orange County and I moved down here and I lived in the dorms, but that doesn’t mean I had the money to do it. I do understand how it is to struggle with money, I know how it is to have a part time job which I have right now as well. I know how it is to not be able to pay for rent sometimes, to be able to find money for all those things and to be able to lead the budget, I have the understanding of all those things that make me more diverse and really trying to see other opportunities and how to be able to come up with the money the students need for their education.

Kris Korsgaden: The first thing I want to point out is that it is an independent corporation. Why do you think Greek life has dominated it? It’s an independent corporation, so it’s going to take the mass student body to really wake up and realize they need to elect somebody, you know, they need to do it, they need to go out and vote and really make a difference. All of us can come up here and have our own individual thing that we’re doing but it really comes down to you. Who do you really want to win? Do you really care? I hope that not everyone is apathetic because I know it’s just college and I know it’s just student government but there’s a lot at stake here, there’s a lot of kids who maybe haven’t even been born yet and who want to be engineers or English majors, or even music majors like myself and I don’t want to see it be super difficult for them to go school because we’re already complaining about how difficult it is. We’re all worrying about the fees continuing to go up because the board of trustees continues to do that to us. I don’t want to see it to where my little cousin can’t become an engineer because he wants to just like I wanted to be a music major.

And if it costs three times as much and the rise of the cost of living expenses on top of that, it’s going to be nearly impossible for anyone to do what we’re doing right now. So I hope you go out and vote and try to make a difference for everybody. I also want to point out too that, isn’t it great that we live in a country where The Koala can come out and show this as freedom of speech? I’ve already been censored at this school a few times by some groups and it’s not fair. I have things I want to say and they’re not letting me do it. I’m glad The Koala came out and handed this out right now because this is their right, and they have every right to do it granted by the constitution of the United States.

TH: What the three main goals of your presidency?

YG: First of all, I want to make our school’s education become enlightened. Since San Diego State University has a high reputation throughout the United States and throughout the world, and according to that, since we have good resources to attract students from different parts of the world to come together to study at San Diego State and we want to elaborate the ability of the teachers’ quality and the students quality, and so on. As I agree with the student success fee voting so we can have tutors, more students will have more opportunities to get help.

My second goal is I want to bring what I’ve learned and experienced from a different part of the world back home and let people from my home town get a good sense of feeling of how the democratic system in the United States works differently from an authoritarian government system from the East. The third goal for me is that I want to try to convince people that it is important to combine and connect people with different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds together to create the harmonious family. As the saying goes, the success belongs to the person who perseveres. I’ll try my best and bring all the people from East and West parts of the world to San Diego State and make it a globalized university for everyone.

KG: Well I think the LEED Platinum Modern Space building, which is the first of its kind has really afforded San Diego State University a really enormous opportunity to establish ourselves as leaders in sustainability as well as enhance the reputation of the school. The problem with it, however, is it’s displacing a lot of student organizations here on campus. One of my primary goals as president will be to continue that future endeavor but at the same time make sure not to neglect our current students on campus and what they’re trying to do. I really want to make sure they have the resources they need and feel like they’ve been reached out to so they know that during this time of transition we still want them to be as successful as they possibly can. The second, and one of the most important parts of my presidency will be adjusting and establishing a relationship with the new university president.

San Diego States and Associated Students operate on a shared governance model so it’s very important that student issues are represented to the president in a way that represents the students’ voice, but is also respectful and convinces faculty and staff that A.S. is an organizations that needs to be worked with for the betterment of the school and is not something to be worked against. The third key goal of my year will be to enhance communication. I’m not here to represent my own voice. I’m not here to represent my own opinions. I’m here to represent all of yours. It’s really important that everyone knows where they can go to represent their opinions, that I have an open office with any issues somebody feels that they can come in and establish their point of view and know that it will be taken and considered at the top of the organization.

CB: The first goal I want to talk about is sustainability. I know that we have Greenfest here on campus, it’s continued to see more and more success here year after year. But how many of you guys by show of hands use the gym, the ARC? A lot of you. Well it’s one of the biggest facilities and one of the most used on campus and actually putting an idea into effect is using all the bikes and treadmills and actually using those to power the gym, whether that be the T.V.’s or the lighting in the ARC. There are thousands of people who go to the ARC every single week and that’s just one of many ideas that I have for sustainability. And in terms of communication, ,y second goal, one of the big things I have planned for next year is something called Aztec T.V., it’s going to be a student television network.

It’s something that I started working on with Tyler Boden a couple years ago that never really took into full effect because we took on other endeavors but it’s something I want to ensure, and see forth for next year so that we don’t just glance through emails, we actually watch something that’s engaging, that sees the executive members of A.S. watching it and seeing what’s going on here on campus. In addition to that, my third and final goal is leadership development. I’ve had such a great experience here as a senior here at San Diego State and I want to make sure we have that opportunity available for other students. That’s something myself and Darin Ruiz came up with. That’s something we’re calling the Aztec Achievement Plan. The college degree is the new high school diploma and to track your achievements throughout college, not just on a resume but on a University level is huge. So to supplement that with a transcript when looking for a job, that will set you up for a long and successful career. So, being that, I guess it’s more than just talk. I want to leave a legacy here on campus and make things happen.

LM: So one of my primary goals is diversity, you know this campus is a diverse campus, but one of the things that we’re lacking is communication within all the student organizations, colleges, and Associated Students. So one of my goals is to have more of an open dialogue, really try to understand what the student organizations need and want, along with the colleges and other organizations on campus. The next goal is, also working with administration, but instead of working with them side by side, I want to work with them face by face. So that means transparency. I want to be transparent to all of you. You know, I really truly believe as AS president, the president has to be someone who is able to voice the opinion of the students regardless if they’re they are working with the administration.

And if that means sometimes going against what the administration says, then I will do that. If that means going with what the administration says, then I’ll do that. But that’s what I want to do as president, be the authentic voice on this campus and make sure that our voices are always heard to matter what. And the third thing I want to focus on is also student organizations. I am part of a student organization on campus and I do know what it is to be displaced. We are very uncertain of what’s going to happen with Aztec Center being gone for the next three years, so I really want to work with the student organizations that are going to be displaced to find better solutions. As of now there are some solutions, using bungalows and things like that. But unfortunately that is not enough because some of those places aren’t big enough for some of the student organizations to have their meetings, or to have their offices, things like that. So I really want to truly work with the students and find what other solutions we can find on campus to be more of a collective, have more communication, transparency, and diversity. Thank you.

KK: Well, I have more two goals in mind because I like to focus ideas and that’s what composes me, because that’s what I am. The first goal is to really protect the professors because as of right now, the way things are looking… How many of you were here during furloughs, raise your hand. Ok do you guys remember one sixth of our semester was pretty much cancelled before we started, ok, and no one in administration took a pay cut and the teachers took pay cuts. Well, what’s going to happen when things keep getting worse in the political spectrum, I really feel like the budget is getting tighter and tighter at the state level and so we need to prepare the group for what’s going to happen we need to elect people who are going to socially represent the people at large because the president really, the student president here isn’t representing you financially he’s representing you socially.

The only thing you can do is represent someone who’s going to represent who you are. It’s not about the money when it comes to this position we’re running for. As they stated in the question earlier, it’s an independent corporation, they do what they want. I hate to tell you. And I just want to let all of you know that I’m going to protect the professors at all cost because that’s why we come here. We come here to learn from them, they have the special skills that we come here for. We don’t just come to school, guys. So other that protecting the professors, I’m going to protect you guys, indirectly, by protecting the professors. Because why else would we come, why else would we come.

TH: Five of the six most highly paid Associated Student executive positions in the entire CSU system are here at SDSU. With faculty furlough days, layoffs, and salary cuts occurring across the board in public educations, do you support the salary increases recently made, last term, for associate student executive members?

YG: In my opinion I strongly agree with the salary increases of the Associated Students executive government. First off, with the increasing salary of the Associated Student executive government it somehow creates the intention for the staff members of the AS government executive staff to work harder to resolve what problems we face now on campus. And recently, as those people probably know in the Wisconsin state, another people trying to protest about the dissatisfaction of their salaries. So, for example, the majority of the citizens in this country only earn 50,000 dollars per year but every month they have to pay 500 dollars for health care so how will they survive.

This ties back to the example that the increase to the salary to the AS executive government. It somehow creates the intention for them to work harder. Indirectly it can also help with the representative democratic system of the United States as the strong liberalism would say that the United States strongly agree with the idea of American exceptionalism, where Americans should be strong, playing the role of the lead of the world. As most of you are probably aware, the United States is the financial center of the world such that the World Trade Organization, the United Nations and especially for a lot of international economy associations center in the United States. The school is the representation of the society.

KG: This has been a really highly contested issue on this campus and I think it’s also a very misunderstood one. The payment for the executive officers was established based on the cost of attending SDSU for one year. The purpose of this is not to have well paid officers, but to allow our officers to devote their full amount of time and attention to serving you guys, the students. Also, this allows people from any facet, no matter what your socio–economic background is, to run for these positions and potentially do it because it alleviates you of that financial stress. So with that being said, because of those two reasons, I fully support the raises in salaries.

CB: I have to fully agree with Kevin, I think that was a great answer. The only thing I would add is up until this point, I would assume all five of us up here, the leadership positions that we’ve held was out of passion. It wasn’t because of money, and it’s because of the experiences that we had in those organizations and the change that we made, that’s why we continue to do this and we want to run for this position of AS president. And going to school, and being compensated for the cost because of these AS executive positions is adequate.

LM: I did not agree with the increase in payment, and the reason for that is this: I believe that it was at a time when it shouldn’t have come. Faculty was being cut, we were having furlough days, we had budget cuts, we were rallying at the time when we were telling the state to do all these changes, yet AS people got a raise, and I don’t think that was the right move. Kind of like what he said, a lot of us have been at this campus, just doing what we do without getting paid, and personally I’m not here for the money. I’m not here to get paid 26 grand or whatever it is you get paid. I’m here to represent the students, and if that comes with or without money, I’ll still do it, and I think that’s what the most important thing is, that I was not for the increase of money for the AS.

KK: I 100 percent agree exactly with what Laura said, 100 percent. It doesn’t make any sense that a president of this school makes 26 grand when our professors are competing who isn’t going to get laid off. Who every can provide the most document evidence as to why he shouldn’t be fired, that’s who doesn’t get fired, whoever kisses the most butt. They’ve turned it into a competition between the professors. And I agree, everything that Laura said, it doesn’t work. We have to have the professors before we have paid student officials, but we don’t come to school here, we don’t need a student government we really don’t, in the end. In the end, when it come down to it, if it’s going to cost us that much money to have it. I’d rather have the professors before we have the student government.

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