Staff note: This page will be updated periodically to eventually include the rest of the ASO candidates.
Students can vote for ASO representatives here.
ASO Senator Mona Dibas has thrown her hat in the ring for ASO president. She is the only student who did.
Dibas said she will put considerable effort into the position.
“I’m very open to have someone run against me,” she said. “I was a little upset, there’s no challenge. I don’t want people to think I was handed this position. I do want people to feel like they want me here. I do want them to know I worked hard for this.”
Dibas is adamant about shedding light on the issue of sexual assault on campus.
“I know someone who was sexually assaulted,” she said. “[The ASO] had a huge talk about it last fall and brought in students to learn how to defend themselves and I think that’s really important to know on campus.”
She also aimed to generate more buzz for the clubs at school.
“A lot of the times they have activities that a lot of students don’t know about,” said Dibas. “Just this semester we had purchased a [bulletin board]. It’s going to be in front of the Cesar Chavez. We’re definitely going to use that to promote more of the activities we have on campus.”
Healthy food at the school cafeteria is something that Dibas said needed to be more readily available for students.
“[The cafeteria] has just brought in the Evolution Wraps, but from talking to students it’s way too expensive to buy every day as a healthy option,” she said. “I have a lot of vegan friends and it really hits the bank when they have to buy an Evolution Wrap every day. I want to bring healthier options that are a lot cheaper on campus.
As a vice president of the Muslim Student Association, Dibas proposed a meditation room on campus and planned to continue that concept within the ASO.
“We wanted to have the meditation room in the Health and Wellness Center, which is still being built,” she said. ”So we want to have an immediate solution to that by reserving a room that students can use until the room is completed and we got that process through.”
Dibas has been inspired by current ASO President Melissa Rodriguez and owed a lot of her effort towards the presidency to her position as a senator.
“I’m very grateful this year that I got to be a senator where I got to watch Melissa work and I got to see everything she does,” she said. “She lets us be a part of the system and she’s very encouraging about it, so I got to see the type of work and effort. Seeing how hard she works, how much she enjoys it and how passionate she is about it, I wanted to do what she does and be that encouragement and inspiration to other people, and that’s why I ran for president.”
Money talks and art major Jose Vera, 24, has a lot on his agenda for his candidacy for the Vice President of Finance. He is currently the senator for the School of Arts, Communication and Social Sciences.
An experienced senator that has been through several ASO administrations, Vera said a lot of his peers’ goals were unrealistic and he made sure not to fall into the same trap during his candidacy.
“It has opened my eyes to see that some goals are unfeasible,” he said. “Especially if there’s not a lot of backing to it, which I learned firsthand. The thing is, you can’t put a blame on any specific person, there’s a chance that someone worked for [a specific goal], and no one was willing to help them out.”
Recycling is a top priority for Vera and said he intended to find the most efficient way in handling the issue while still staying within the school’s budget.
“I started researching about how we got the plastic bins, then I went and spoke to my dean, and I was told that they are very tight on their budget,” he said. “As an art student I see that we throw a lot of paper away and a lot of students knew that I was their senator, so they came up to me and complained about it. So I’m kind of stuck because we don’t have the budget.”
Vera and other senators are trying their best to be more inclusive to the students in order to strengthen the relationship between the ASO and students.
“Recently, me, Jorge and Freda [other ASO senators]went to GA [General Assembly], and Jorge pushed to allow not only ASO officers, but also to open it up to students so they can submit essays,” he said. “And we actually took three students with us, two of them are potential senators at large. It was like opening the eyes for any new people and Jorge and I will make this part of our strategy.”
Vera said he has created a small evaluation survey for his respective school and planned to extend that into a larger scope if he were to be elected.
“I just got about half of them back, and I’m going to go through it and create a list,” he said. “It’s addressing facilities, so students got to put in what they love about our campus and some of their complaints. I wanted to see what we’re doing [well]as an administration, and also what we can improve. I thought that maybe this would be motivation for other senators to do the same for their schools.”
Despite finding himself bogged down with meeting after meeting, Vera said the public and the students are a top priority.
“The way we structure [committees]in the ASO, we always make sure that members of the public get to speak first,” he said. “So I told students not to think they’re interrupting us, because we can always postpone things if they have something important to say, and if we don’t cover everything on our agenda it’s fine, it can just go to the next week. It’s not like [the students’ concerns]will cause us any harm.”
Ivonne Meza, 18, is putting her genuine interest in finance into play by announcing her candidacy for the position of ASO Vice President of Finance. She is the Current Senator for the school of Student Support Services and Programs.
A business administration major and the youngest candidate on the ballot, Meza has made it clear that the students at SWC are her first priority.
“I definitely feel like I can make a difference for the students,” she said. “I am willing to hear what the student’s wants and needs are and make them possible to the best of my ability. I will try to find ways to fund projects that students need in order to succeed.”
Her goals include funding for the book rental program, increasing scholarship opportunities for students and providing greater club allocations to increase club activities and services on campus.
“I will help students by preparing the budget for next year in a way where there will be more money placed into these areas,” she said. “I believe these areas are important because they strongly affect the student body academically and if our goal is to raise retention rates at Southwestern College, then I believe I can find the ways to make that achievable.”
Other goals include greater inclusion of students and a better relationship between the ASO and students.
“As ASO Vice President of Finance one of my tasks is to have a written financial report when the Senate requests it but I would actually like to have an up-to-date written report as soon as there are any changes made to the budget and have it open to the public,” she said. “If any students ever want to know where certain funding is coming from or where certain money is going, I will be able to show them clearly and with proof.”
Running for one of the more contested positions this election year, cognitive science major Alvin Cook made sure to bring his professional experience into the ring. He said SWC’s next Executive Vice President will need it.
“I’ve been a manager for over 10 years in my professional life,” he said. “The last company I was at had 270,000 people. The president of the company supported my initiatives for that environment. I’m very courageous. I was able to help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rio de Janeiro.”
Cook’s chief proposal is the establishment of a mentorship program for students.
“[Students] are only passing through here, you’re not wanting to be here forever,” he said. “We want to make sure you have custom curriculum, we want to make sure you have a faculty member to help you explore your area of discipline. We want to make sure when you leave here, you’ll have a team of people working for you that’ll make sure you’re successful.”
In order to promote greater student inclusion, Cook planned to utilize electronic dropboxes and requiring ASO officers to come out and speak to students.
“Say at least once a month to speak to the students for a period of time,” he said. “To make sure that they [ASO officers] have a heartbeat of what the students feel, so that they’re not voting on things that are not important to [students].”
Cook said he would first deal with the internal workings of the ASO before taking on anything else.
“I want to bring a sense of professionalism,” he said. “I’ve noticed that in seating in some of the ASO meetings that there seems to be a lack of tolerance or respect for each other. We want to make sure we’re a cohesive unit.”
Cook said he believed in his ability to execute his plans for the ASO.
“One of my principles is ‘smarter, not harder,’” he said. “So I believe that what I bring to the ASO is making sure we find solutions instead of focusing on the problem. A leader is one who is willing to make sure that he or she does whatever it takes, and he or she is willing to persevere and get the results. That’s what I can offer you.”
Jose Gutierrez, a senator-at-large and nursing major, is a candidate for ASO Executive Vice President.
Gutierrez has a year of experience in student government. He applauded the effort of senators in organizing student events.
“I know how the system works,” he said. “And I know that it’s tough getting events done for the students and that’s something I definitely want to get advocated for [the students]. The senators, those are the ones that get things done, so I definitely want to build a good relationship between them and also the students, so we know what [the students]want. If they [the senators]need me to go to a meeting, I’ll go to that meeting.”
Sustainability and recycling are on the top of Gutierrez’s agenda.
“I definitely want to get more recycling bins here at school to improve our sustainability,” he said. “More blue bins everywhere. I want to see more of them. One water bottle makes a difference.”
Gutierrez said he is always open to be approached by any student for any matter.
“Come have a conversation with myself or one of the senators,” he said, urging students at an ASO public forum.
With four years participating in high school sports, Gutierrez said he is confident that these skills will smoothly carry over to the executive position he is running for.
“I know the mechanics of how a team works,” he said. “And also I know what it means to be a leader, like when to lead and when to follow. I also know how the senate works and I know how resolution and committees work, so that we can get events done for the students.”