A government isn’t a government without its constituents. No different is our own student government without us. Since the adoption of COVID guidelines and social distancing, participation numbers within the Associated Students organization have continued to decrease. Many of the positions within the organization have remained vacant and policies going into effect are voted on by only a small portion of the overall student population.
“We’re trying to make a change,” Rosa Granados, External Affairs Representative and a major in social work, said. “We just need [students’] assistance to show up and to be there as a vote when these policies are being made.”
Student housing, food access, and mental health are always hot topics being discussed in these policies, Granados expressed. All of these issues, she noted, being present in the many different committees spread out across the AS.
Malluli Cuellar, Legislative Vice President and a major in political science, further explained that these committees are like smaller boards within the organization. Each one is uniquely centered around their own mission or topic, such as sustainability, diversity, bylaws, and more. These committees are also open to any student of any skill level and background to participate in without formal election. It is through the presence of everyday students working within these committees that many of HSU’s important events and policies come into being.
“The nice thing about our committees is that typically they are meeting biweekly,” Cuellar said. “So compared to the Board of Directors it tends to be a smaller time commitment. It’s a really good place to start!”
The AS itself is headed by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors are a predominantly student-elected group of fellow HSU students who work as the connecting mouthpiece between student and faculty relations as well as oversight members within the previously mentioned committees. The Board is currently made up of 18 positions, of which half still remain empty this late fall semester.
“We represent the students,” Chase Marcum, Student Affairs Vice President and a major in anthropology and international Studies, said regarding the AS as a whole. “And we represent our fellow peers, in creating a healthy and positive environment for their educational pursuits, creating and effecting change that they want and desire.”
This ability, Marcum explained, to represent and advocate for the needs and desires of HSU students, was the common factor among all the board members interviewed that had inspired them to first apply.
“All these programs that I’ve utilized,” Granados said. “Student athletes, mental health services, food services, and even housing service have helped me be here getting my degree and so I really want to be in spaces where I can advocate for [them].”
The chance to make a change through the AS was not only the catalyst for each member’s initial application but also is the reward that has kept them coming back semester after semester.
“It’s one of those positions and roles where, yes, it is extremely time consuming,” Marcum said specifically in relation to his position. “But at the same time it gives back tenfold!”
“It’s a labor of love,” Cuellar said, adding after Marcum. “If the amount of work that you’re putting in meets how rewarding the work is to you it’s really sustainable.”
Not all members expressed that working with AS has been all work and no play though. David Lopez, Administrative Vice President and HSU student majoring in cellular/molecular biology, expressed that it is the students who join that dictate how much work they wish to take on. They do this by the positions or amount of committees they choose to dedicate themselves to. In his words, it’s a low risk environment to make high risk impacts.
“There is a place in AS for anyone who is able to give any amount of dedication to it,” Lopez said. “It’s a buffet, an endless buffet! You get to choose however much you want to put on your plate.”
No matter what type of student you are, no matter your major, or what year you may be, AS wants to hear your voice and to get you involved.
“We don’t need you to be the best student leader,” Cuellar said. “We don’t need you to have the skills yet. We’re going to help you and empower you with those skills. As long as you have that spark within you to keep you motivated, that’s all we’re looking for!”
The best place to get started if you are interested in getting involved with AS is to visit their website at https://associatedstudents.humboldt.edu/ and to send an email to email@example.com to get connected with the members themselves.