Letter from Associated Students President Jeremiah Finley

by Jeremiah Finley
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Often times elections bring new ideas, new hope for every side of the political spectrum or group you are a part of and as we, 2020-2021 Associated Students Board of Directors, approach the horizon of our end of session it’s important to take a step back and reflect on some of our accomplishments, challenges, and experience navigating the already turbulent scene of university politics. Let’s not forget that famous line of “in the middle of a pandemic.”

We started the fall term by creating our yearly priorities, which are: ACCESSIBILITY TO STUDENT RESOURCES & EDUCATIONAL NEEDS with the goal being for colleges to provide more research and professional development opportunities that are easily accessed by students through increased communication and up-to-date online presence. Our next priority being AMPLIFYING STUDENT VOICES having our mission outcomes to be creating a feedback form for asynchronous feedback with a button on the AS website. Design social media policy that expands public comment to our official platforms. Finally, TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, ENGAGEMENT with our goal being to create measurables for AS funding, for instance post-grant surveys and monthly financial reviews. Extend the time allowed for appeals in the budgetary process. Develop and provide more training and information on the AS website. And I’m happy to say that we have made enormous strides in each area. We have been able to hold multiple student resources forums gathering feedback from students. We are utilizing our social media to receive information and communicate with students on a number of hot topics. We have initiated ongoing professional development and are making plans to ensure that all AS employees are fully trained and equipped with the support they need to help improve the student experience. And we are promoting other professional development opportunities that are occurring within each college. All while ensuring that our staff members are recording this data to furnish the incoming Board with ample support.

The 2020-2021 AS Board of Directors, like many before it, began new things that will leave a blueprint for the next Board to potentially follow. The most notable of those changes are working though our academic breaks. COVID-19 has enabled the Board to be across the town, state, and at times the nation, and still meet whereas before we all had to be in the same room for business to get done. In seeing this and working with the Board Chair, Malluli Cuellar, we developed a summer meeting scheduled that was approved to come forward for a vote and it passed unanimously. During this summer period we were able to appoint a full board before September, pass resolutions in direct response from student calls such as: A Resolution to Call for the Restructuring of the University Police Department, An Act to Formalize the Associated Students Social Justice and Equity Committee, Resolution to support the former Hilltop Marketplace be designated as a Food Sovereignty Lab and Cultural Workspace, Resolution In Support of the student voices that initiated the Change.org petition titled, “Expel 2 Racist Students”, A Resolution In Support of the Creation of a One-Unit Academic Course Fulfilling the F-1 Visa Requirements, An Act to Update the AS Fiscal Code, and A Proclamation titled Associated Students In Solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

Over Winter break, we encountered issues around the University Center, so AS leadership engaged where it was thought necessary to challenge and probe our Administration to shed the light of transparency onto what seemed like a murky scenario. As we approached spring break we ensured that students were informed of our plans to re-establish core programs which are in essence central services that AS provides to students and we responded to their needs and have altered our plan based on student feedback.

During the regular academic session we have been able to pass many resolutions and internal legislative pieces such as: A proclamation titled Associated Students to Affirm Student Voices at HSU, Resolution to Create Long-Term Nutrition Alternatives, An Act to Alter the Method of Legislation & Resolution, An Act to Create a Staff Compensation Review Policy, Resolution in Support of SQE Demands, and a Resolution to Support Trans Lives & Prosperity. Still, there are many more resolutions in the pipeline and we hope to get as much done as possible before our transition on May 7th. We have also had the opportunity to be the first Board of Directors to update the campus community in the University Senate on our yearly goals, progress made, and make a call for candidates for our elections. Additionally, we were able to bring an update to some of the student staff in housing and residence life.

Now, only a week or so away from our potential successors being elected, and in reflection of this past year, I, like many of my board members, would say, are grateful to have advocated for all students here at HSU. While we have had to challenge more than our predecessors, we were still able to collaborate with our campus partners, providing feedback on multiple space recommendations, funding opportunities, campus initiatives like the recent work with the HSU Strategic Planning Committee and now the Polytechnic self study. There will be multiple opportunities for people to get involved next year, through board positions and though committees, so if you’re interested, and want to make an impact come to our AS website and check out all the amazing resources your student government has to offer or bring to our attention what you want to have offered.

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