Rating AS execs on campaign promises

by Stacey Oparnica

Last spring, your current A.S. executive officers stood before you in Aztec Center and pledged to improve three major aspects about San Diego State: sustainability, leadership development and communication. Now in the midst of another year of A.S. elections, three of these candidates are standing before you once again to request your support. However, before you set your sights on the contender of your choice, let’s first examine their accomplishments, failures and overall progress.

During last year’s election, the communicative disconnect between A.S. and the student body was at the forefront of debate issues. In an effort to create a solution to the lack of student engagement in campus affairs, Cody Barbo and Darin Ruiz both vocalized their plans to create “Aztec TV,” a YouTube channel the A.S. executive board would use to produce short, biweekly updates for students. In regard to its progress thus far, Ruiz confessed Aztec TV still hasn’t taken off because when he came into office, A.S. lacked a solid marketing foundation he felt was necessary to initiate the channel.

“Coming into it I really didn’t even know where our marketing position was with A.S.,” Ruiz said. “I was coming into it as an outsider looking in.”

Granted, while his lack of A.S. experience is a factor to consider, there is simply no excuse for enticing voters with plans one has not properly prepared for. In addition, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the claim that a strong marketing foundation was at fault for the board’s inability to produce and maintain a single YouTube channel. These days, the ease and simplicity of filming, editing and uploading videos make it possible for even preteens to do so, without help. Therefore, I don’t buy the excuse that the board couldn’t obtain a tripod and a video camera to film a brief one-minute video twice a month.

On the contrary, Ruiz said A.S. is transitioning into a more marketing-savvy corporation. In addition, they have recently hired a full-time marketing correspondent who is working on getting Aztec TV off the ground, although the anticipated date of its completion is still up in the air. Nevertheless, I find it discomforting and totally irresponsible that neither Ruiz nor Barbo hesitated to hype Aztec TV to voters despite the fact they seemingly did minimal, if any, research about the funding and marketing resources required to actually see it through.

Moving onto outreach and leadership development, one of Barbo’s main goals was the formation of the “Aztec Achievement Plan”, which is a method of tracking one’s accomplishments throughout college in the form of a co-curricular transcript. In collaboration with Ruiz and Student Affairs, Barbo said it is 75 percent complete and will go into effect this upcoming fall.

In addition, Ruiz has developed the “Getting Involved Campaign”, which includes the production and disbursement of more than 5,000 pamphlets and bracelets. These pamphlets, which are distributed throughout facilities such as the residence halls, the Aztec Recreation Center and the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, essentially target freshmen and act as miniature guides for getting involved on campus. Ruiz said the recent increase in student applicants for A.S. is a possible determinant for the success of his campaign.

Sustainability was one of the primary concepts reiterated in last year’s election and I am thrilled to report that a tremendous accomplishment has been made. About two weeks ago, a project to install 1,200 solar panels on the roof of the ARC was completed. This move, which cost $500,000, will save the university almost $80,000 a year in energy costs. This is just one of many noteworthy achievements A.S. has made in regard to the Green Love initiative, which promotes sustainability on campus in an impressive variety of ways. However, it should be noted that both Ruiz and Barbo had emphasized a measure in their speeches to make the ARC more sustainable by using bikes and treadmills to power the gym’s facilities; yet it appears neither had a clear grasp on how to do so. In fact, it wasn’t until after they enthusiastically highlighted this idea they discovered this move would have been extremely expensive, complex and fairly unreliable. When asked what research had been done prior to the debate, Ruiz stated, “Just between Cody and I, you know, we did some Internet research and that’s kind of an idea we came across and we just thought, ‘That sounds really awesome.’”

“There were kind of a lot of components that came into play that we didn’t see at first,” Barbo said.

Somewhat sloppy campaigning aside, the board’s ability to complete the solar panel installation project is a triumph worth celebrating.

All in all, I’d like you to keep several things in mind. While A.S. board members do have the resources and the responsibility to make incredible changes within SDSU, we must remember they only hold their positions for one year and can only do so much within their short terms.

“While we do make progress, it does take time, a lot more time than I expected,” Barbo said.

On the other hand, board members should still be held accountable for making campaign promises they were not prepared to fulfill. Now that you have all of this information, study the components of A.S., listen intently to current campaign promises, ask questions and demand answers, and most importantly, log onto WebPortal and vote.

—Stacey Oparnica is a journalism junior.