Democrats and Republicans are not the only folks running for president this spring. Aspiring Southwestern College leaders have thrown their hats into the ring.
Elections for Associated Students Organization (ASO) officers are underway.
Positions are president, student trustee, executive vice president, vice president of club affairs, vice president of finance, vice president of public relations, social vice president, executive secretary, and 12 senator seats.
Candidates must collect 75 signatures from students holding ASO activity cards to qualify for the May 9-12 ballot.
Political science major Luis Mora, 18, said he intends to campaign for executive vice president.
“I want to make a change to the school,” he said. “I also want to bring awareness to the benefits and opportunities of coming to community college and (bring) that awareness to high school students.”
Mora said he planned make textbooks more affordable. He is open to continuing the proposals already established by current ASO President Melissa Rodriguez, he said.
“I’m not aware of proposals that she is working on right now, but if she lets me know, then I will keep (them) going,” he said.
Alvin Cook, an economics and cognitive science major, is also running for executive vice president. He proposed improvements to the college’s Wi-Fi system and creation of a mentorship program.
“This will allow students to connect with members of the broader professional community,” he said. “Having a faculty member support them in their discipline as well having a counselor (who is) well versed in a particular area that a student would like to progress in to make sure they are successful. Currently we don’t have this and I believe we must.”
Cook said he will not use the vice presidency as a stepping stone.
“I’ve been a professional in the corporate world, so I’ve had experience on executive boards with multi-national firms such as Wells Fargo and JP Morgan,” he said. “But this isn’t necessarily a resumé booster for me. I’m just going around speaking to students and we want to improve the community. We want to improve the college. We believe in the college.”
Current ASO senator Mona Dibas, an English major, said she plans to run for ASO president, partly inspired by Rodriguez’s actions in office. Dibas has been a senator for two semesters.
“As a senator, I loved how I could be a part of something more,” she said. “Then I see what Melissa does, I see how she helps motivate people and create projects, and it’s completely selfless. I respect that so much about her and I want to be that person who leads, who gives people that motivation the way she does.”
Dibas is a member of the Muslim Student Association. She said she plans to run for president of that organization as well.
Rodriguez, an English major, said she has learned to balance ASO duties and being a student.
“Speaking to other leaders on campus, someone mentioned to me, ‘you can’t be a good student leader if you’re not a good student,’ so that reminds me that I need to prioritize,” said the 2016 Student of Distinction Award recipient. “Some of the ways I’ve balanced is I’ve learned how to say ‘no.’ I wish I could be everywhere, I really try, but I learned to set boundaries.”
Rodriguez said she learned to delegate.
“I would advise the next incoming president to really trust their team from the very beginning,” she said.
Rodriguez and other ASO officers are creating executive legacy binders.
“These are basically a portfolio of all the projects (and goals) that we’ve set for ourselves this year and how far we’ve gotten into them,” she said. “It’s going to contain all the contacts and resources and history, so that if they choose to, our successors can pick up where we left off.”
Qualification of ASO candidates will be closely monitored and enforced by the election board, Rodriguez said.
“We’re going to look more strictly at who is on the ballot and make sure there isn’t anyone who would be a menace,” she said. “They have to be in good standing in order to be eligible.”
Criminal justice major William Nimmo, 22, is the ASO elections coordinator.
“All the candidates’ applications will come through my office,” he said. “As the coordinator of elections, I am open not just to the candidates, but to the entire student body.”
Southwestern’s ASO Constitution states that officers are required to be enrolled in nine units while in office and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5. Members must not be on academic or disciplinary probation.