Associated Students Legislative Vice President Jeremiah Finley runs for the presidency
Former Vice President of Student Affairs and current Associated Students Legislative Vice President Jeremiah Finely has placed his hat in the race for the 2020-2021 AS presidency.
Majoring in political science, Finley’s passion for politics can be traced to the last presidential election.
“When I watched the 2016 race, I think something just awoke within me,” Finley said. “It got nasty, it got dirty, and that’s something that I don’t want to see happen ever again.”
A sophomore in high school at the time, Finley didn’t put his passion into practice until arriving at Humboldt State University. In his first semester, Finley became president of the Cypress Hill Council after attending the info session and receiving encouragement from the council to run. Current Residence Hall Association President Jourdan Lamar first met Finley when he joined the council.
“When he walked into our first meeting, I knew he was going to be a great leader then,” Lamar said. “He was advocating, asking questions, joining other organizations to learn more about HSU. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work alongside him in many organizations on campus, seeing him become a great student leader.”
From day one, despite the threat of consequences, Finley said he’s made it his number one priority to place students’ interests first.
“Due to this I have been penalized a lot, in various different ways,” Finley said. “Whether it be not getting the votes I needed to pass certain legislation, or not receiving the same type of social treatment. Ultimately, I bet on the students consistently. I think that all my students are worth it.”
Finley began making regular visits to the AS office in his first semester on campus, familiarizing himself with the organization. He attempted to apply for the position of social justice and equity officer, but was turned down due to lack of a college GPA. He returned the following semester and was appointed to the position of student affairs VP in February of 2019.
Executive Director of AS Jenessa Lund has worked closely with Finley since he became a part of the board.
“Jeremiah is a super bright and motivated student leader, both in AS as the legislative VP and housing as an RA,” Lund said. “On multiple occasions, he has combined those roles by educating his residents about current issues on campus as well as bringing his residents to campus events.”
Finley’s favorite thing about being part of AS is watching students engage with one another and the various programs on campus.
“When I get the chance to see how my advocacy helped them along the way, those moments are my favorite moments,” Finley said. “I get to interact with folks, I get to hear about their passions, what they’re excited about, what they’re doing.”
Beyond the rewarding big-picture projects, Finley finds plenty to be proud of in his daily routine.
“My day-to-day experience is something special,” Finley said. “It’s always fast-paced, there’s always something new going on—so you have to really adapt quickly to the changing scenarios. One thing you hear in the morning could be totally different from what you hear in the afternoon. And it’s been tough. It’s been really hard trying to navigate that, especially as a person of color in this predominantly white institution. It’s really difficult to make sure I can still be myself, but at the same time, be professional.”
Despite everything HSU has to offer, including various programs and resources, a sense of community on campus and the attention paid to student voices, Finley sees endless room for improvement.
“I don’t think anything should really stay the same, and I mean that,” Finley said. “There’s just too much complacency and I think there’s a lot that needs to change.”
Finley intends to place more emphasis on incorporating student engagement within AS.
“Yeah, we have the AS board of directors, but that’s really geared towards AS and what AS wants to do,” Finley said. “But I feel like we don’t have a place where all students can come together to talk about what we all want to do and want to see happen. So, if we can make a central hub where we can talk and just listen to each other and hear what we want to do as a collective, then I think we can truly start generating some great ideas to change the way this campus runs.”
Finley said he understands the struggles college students face, whether it’s coming up with enough money to pay bills or buy groceries, providing for your family or setting aside time for schoolwork.
“It’s just this balancing act and I think there’s a lot of things that can be easier for students, things that I currently have no direct control over,” Finley said. “So, if I can put myself in that position to really help, then that’s what I want to do.”
As legislative VP, Finley referred to his magnum opus, his great work, as the AS Constitution, Codes and Policies. He put together a full constitution revision packet over the course of the 2019-2020 school year, including new bylaws and revisions for out-of-date codes and policies. Presented to the board back in February, the revision wasn’t passed.
“It hurt,” Finley said. “It really did hurt when the board decided not to think carefully or listen carefully to what I was saying. I think from that moment I knew that if I wanted to bring the change that I want to see in HSU, and I think that we all deserve here, then I can’t continue in this role.”
Finley said he’s not only prepared, but is determined to take on bigger challenges and face greater consequences in the name of improving the lives of students.
“Some days are good, some days are better than others,” Finley said. “But ultimately you just gotta keep going, you gotta keep fighting. And so I’ll keep fighting, I’ll keep going and I’ll keep being persistent, that way I can make sure I can advocate for students. And come election time, I have faith that I’ll be elected for AS president for the next academic year.”