A.S. vice president of financial affairs candidate Austin Barber

by Katelynn Robinson, Assistant News Editor

Position: Vice President of Financial Affairs

Name: Austin Barber

Year: Sophomore

Major: Finance and Political Science, double minor Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Leadership

Why did you decide to run for this position?

“Actually my passion for this position started all the way back to my senior year when I attended Explore SDSU. I went to an Associated Students information session and met the current president of financial affairs Christian Onwuka at the time, as well as the rest of the Associated Students executive board. And that kind of lit the passion for this position and what it is all about. So really what I think comes down to my passion with this position is the two facets that it embodies within this position that I am very passionate about, the financial aspect as well as the student leadership aspect. 

Being a financial major, I really want to utilize the budget with a student centric perspective. I want to make sure that these funds are going to the students and being used for the students and by the students. On top of that I really want to embody a student leadership approach in this position. So I really try to curate that because I believe as a leader you are an example and what better example can you be then unapologetically serving others. Through the student leadership approach I really want to serve others through finances as well as through philanthropic efforts in this role.”

What makes you qualified for this position? What is your history with A.S.?

“What makes me qualified for this position, as I kind of touched on, is that I have relevant experience in both aspects of the position. The Vice President of Financial Affairs can be broken down into two kinds of aspects both the financial aspect as well as the student services philanthropic side of the position. In regards to the financial aspect of the position I believe I have a lot of different experiences inside the financial realm. On top of being a finance major I’ve also sat on the financial affairs committee, the committee that the vice president of financial affairs chairs, for two years now. And with that I have also been the former vice chair for the committee as well as help this year head a working crew with the current Vice President of Financial Affairs Victor Penera. Along with that I sat on the university senate committee, the campus development committee and really seen where funds are going to develop the campus both internally as well as externally in satellite campuses. And so there I think really applies the financial aspect of the role. 

Moving on to the service aspect I really try to serve on the ground level and gain experience through that too. I’ve volunteered for Aztecs Rock Hunger for two years now. In that time through tabling and really spreading the message of raising awareness for food insecurity I’ve kind of gathered a lot of what the Aztecs Rock Hunger campaign is about. I’ve also become on Economic Crisis Response Team advocate so I know how to advocate for those resources and continued to establish a relationship with Economic Crisis Response Team. I’ve been in the club Rotaract which is a service oriented club. I’ve really been able to double down on what a student service leader means and take advantage of these service opportunities. 

And then in regards to my Associated Students experience, my first experience in Associated Students was actually sitting in on the financial affairs committee. I joined that actually within my first couple weeks of stepping foot on to campus and from there it has kind of expanded into a lot of different other avenues. After sitting on the financial affairs committee I joined the First Year Leadership Initiative and was mentored by the former and current chief of staff Maxwell Johnson. And I really learned a lot about what A.S.’s morals were as well as what the entire objective of the organizations is as well as just kind of being mentored in professional development and how to hold yourself in a college environment. And then more on from there I was able to volunteer on the Aztecs Rock Hunger campaign and table at the ground level. And then moving on to this year I was actually fortunate enough to take on the position of Associated Students Justice. That means I sit on the Judicial Affairs Council and through that me as well as my council have really tried to embody compassionate leadership in this role this year. We understand that it is hard. In a role the really requires you to check off requirements as well as make sure people are completing their roles we wanted to take it from a compassionate leadership approach and really understand that if somebody isn’t able to complete these roles we really want to understand front their perspective there may be something going on with all the different things going on in the world right now.”

What would you like to change at SDSU?

“One thing I would like to change about SDSU specifically very tailored to the role of Vice President of Financial Affairs is the under utilization of Associated Students funds. Sitting on the financial affairs committee I’ve seen first hand these funds go untouched. Just sitting on it right now I think we have 120 to 130 thousand dollars worth of under utilized funds- unallocated funds. So I think what it really comes down to is seeking out students and making sure they know where funds are available to them and being a resource and helping them. I don’t want students to have to spend an hour looking through the Associated Students website and figuring how they can get these funds. I’d rather come to the students, have a meeting with them and show them exactly how they can utilize these funds because I think that is the best way to get it done. Because it shouldn’t be the students responsibility to reutilize these funds it should be us as Associated Students seeking out these students and kind of creating these relationships. I’ve also already tried to really establish doing that by actually going to a student life and leadership virtual event planning workshop March 26, the day after elections. I really just am sitting on behalf of the financial affairs committee in that workshop and making sure that students know that financial affairs committee could be a resource for all you student leaders and know that they can utilize these funds.”

Can you name something you like and something you dislike about A.S.?

“One thing I like about Associated Students is the variety of roles within Associated Students. You can be a volunteer for a campaign such as Rock the Vote or Aztecs Rock Hunger. You can sit on certain committees as well as boards that cover a variety of different topics on campus. And you can also be an elected or appointed leadership position. I think really with the kind of tiers of how to be involved and what time commitments these gather as well as the different subject matters for each of these different involvements there is a lot of things to get involved in with Associated Students that students can be a part of. 

But I also think something that I don’t like on top of accessibility is a lot of the red tape that follows Associated Students. Being a non-profit we are under a high audit scrutiny so we have to follow certain things like Robert’s Rules and with these kind of red tape and these strict rules we have to follow sometimes during meetings it can seem more like you are checking off boxes to make sure you are following all the requirements rather than having really meaningful conversations about how we can make student life better or change something within San Diego State.”

What will be your top three priorities in this role?

“As your chief financial officer, I will establish transparency in the Associated Student’s budget. I will work with Economic Crisis Response Team to establish greater accessibility to student resources. And I will provide underrepresented populations with more opportunities to access under utilized funding for student organizations. And so going back to my first point, establishing greater transparency in the Associated Student’s budget what I really want to do is as I previously mentioned meet students at the ground level as well as create better marketability for how students can utilize these funds. And then moving on to how I will work with Economic Crisis Response Team to provide greater accessibility I think it is really continuing that relationship both the previous vice president of financial affairs, Dustin Adkins as well as the current one Victor Panera have established with Economic Crisis Response Team and really continuing to foster that relationship and make sure that as Vice President of Financial Affairs I am being a resource to help market all the amazing programs they have established for students on campus. And then how I will provide underrepresented populations with additional opportunities to kind of utilize these under utilized funds I think it really comes down to creating those relationships at the ground level and knowing that they have opportunities to access these funds. I think it is best to meet students and meet them and not have to wait for them to seek us out. So by going into these different communities and showing them there are these funds to utilize I think can be really important moving forward and is one of my greatest priorities.”