ASG elections kick off this week

Student votes decide their representatives for the next academic year

From left to right: Namuunaa Batbold, Kiana Bakrani, Valeria Herrera, Ron Ferrari, Israel Golden, Vy Ngunyen and Hyder Gaz who all attended the Associated Student Government debate to present their campaign proposals for seven open positions on Thursday, April 20.

Associated Student Government positions are up for grabs at San Jose City College beginning April 24 through April 26. Around a dozen candidates are hoping to be chosen to represent the student body in seven positions ranging from Student Trustee to ASG President, with a majority of them voicing their campaign platforms during last Thursday’s debate.

One candidate, Israel Golden is a 45-year old sociology major entering his eighth semester at SJCC. Golden works as a custodian on-campus and said he is running for both Student Trustee and Director of Student Resources because one of his professors identified within him a willingness to help people.

“I’m not here, because I want to. It’s not something that’s going to benefit me, but I do like helping people and [Dr. Del Buono] noticed that in all of my work,” Golden said in an interview with the Times.

During the debate, Golden expressed a strong belief in free or lower-cost tuition for all students. He also spoke about wanting the implementation of a shuttle between Evergreen Valley College and SJCC, citing the difficulties of commuting between the two campuses for students who may not own a vehicle.

“Not everyone here is rich, not everyone has a car. Some of us are on VTA,” Golden said.

Still, Golden said if elected he would always ultimately prioritize the desires of the student body, even if they conflicted with his own, saying, “If I vote, my vote at the 40 meetings is going to go towards what the students want, not my personal biases.”

Namuunaa Batbold, a 19-year-old communications major and international student,is running for the same positions as Golden. She was transparent about her uncertainty in what being an ASG board member means. However, Batbold still expressed a willingness to learn on the job, because she strongly feels that international students deserve representation in their government.

“The reason why I wanted to run for ASG was because I saw problems that I felt like could be fixed with my input. Problems for first-generation international students,” Batbold said.

Batbold pointed to a lack of affordable housing for students, and also the dwindling number of opportunities for international students to work on-campus. These issues are increasingly compounded by the recent tuition hike for international and out-of-state students set to take effect in the next academic year.
“When the tuition increased, there were lots of students that couldn’t pay for their tuition and they were looking for ways to get money,” Batbold said. “And because I’m an international student, I would like to make opportunities for [other] international students to have jobs.”

Vy Nguyen, 21, is another international student majoring in communications who is running for Vice President of Marketing and Director of Communications. Like Batbold, she is concerned about the livelihood of both international and out-of-state students given the increase to tuition, something she said she worked actively to prevent.

“I was a part of a campaign, created by a group of international students, and we signed a petition to go against the tuition increase,” Nguyen said. “We contacted students and asked them for their opinions. We made a lot of videos for them to vote and to raise their voices.”

Nguyen shared that she already has a plan of action in order to fulfill her responsibilities in both positions if elected. As Director of Communication, Nguyen said she would be fully committed to the required duties of taking meeting minutes and keeping all relevant documents accessible for ASG members. As Vice President of Marketing, she said her strategy would be to work closely with SJCC’s official marketing team to create campaigns promoting on-campus clubs and activities.

“I’m really passionate about working on those two positions, because as I mentioned during the debate, they are related to my major,” Nguyen said.

This passion for communication is also shared by Ron Ferrari, known widely as “Bigs” around campus. Ferrari is a candidate for Director of Student Engagement and Vice President of Marketing, and said that, “If and when I become elected, I want to see more clubs emerge.”

Ferrari spoke of his experience working at KJCC, the school’s local radio station, expressing a desire to reach more students using that platform. This is part of his proposal to get students more involved in school activities.

“I will invite every diverse group and club to collaborate with the media [on-campus] and the radio station to further expand,” Ferrari said.

Hyder Gazi, an international student majoring in business who is running for Director of Student Engagement and Director of Communications, said that he is strongly pursuing inclusivity in the activities offered at SJCC.

“I was planning to organize more events and activities that promote understanding and respect for different cultures and identities as well as providing resources and support for underrepresented groups,” Gazi said.

One of the ideas proposed by Gazi as Director of Communication is establishing guidelines that would provide clear deadlines and instructions for the clubs, but he also mentioned that he is in favor of penalizing clubs that fail to submit records of their meetings.

“By establishing a system that prioritizes accountability, you can ensure that the meetings run smoothly,” said Gazi.

Like Gazi, Jocelynn Solorio also hopes to promote equity and inclusion on-campus. Solorio, who hopes to one day become a teacher, is currently running for the positions of Student Trustee and Director of Student Engagement.

“If elected, I promise to prioritize the needs of all of the student body and create a safe and inclusive environment for our students here,” Solorio said.

Solorio said she is committed to supporting international students, saying that any tuition increase for non-resident students would need to be carefully considered.

“International and out-of-state students bring valuable perspectives and experiences to our campus,” Solorio said. “It is important that we don’t make it financially prohibitive for them to attend our institution.”

Kiana Bakrani Balani, a 19-year-old international student majoring in Biology, is a candidate for Director of Student Engagement and Director of Student Resources. She mentioned how she has struggled to identify the resources that SJCC provides to its students, something she hopes to change.

Bakrani emphasized that the school has materials and equipment available but that students are not taken advantage of due to the lack of knowledge of them.

“There are definitely really good resources from laptops and hotspots from the Learning Resource Center and libraries like Spark Point (…) but what I believe is that many students do not have enough information about them,” Bakrani said.

Valeria Herrera Vasques, an international student and business major, is currently serving as the Director of Student Resources. She is now running unopposed for ASG President, and said she is aware of issues regarding a lack of student knowledge of on-campus resources.

“That was one of my main priorities [as director], to get people to understand what those resources are and to get to know those resources,” Herrera Vasques said.

As president, Herrera Vasques hopes not to just improve awareness of available resources, but to expand the number of resources that students can utilize. She hopes to push forward an initiative that includes more access to zero-cost textbooks, increasing the amount of scholarships and to give students more options to study on-campus late into the night.

Herrera Vasques was also one of the main opponents to the tuition increase for international and out-of-state students, taking part in Nguyen’s petition against the raise, which eventually gathered around 200 signatures for the cause.

Running unopposed, Herrera Vasques is almost guaranteed to be the next ASG president, succeeding Leif Benson, who was asked to resign by current board members and is still facing ongoing controversy. Still, she wasted no time focusing on the student body at large.

“I’m very excited about the opportunities to serve as your President and make a positive impact on our campus community, together,” Herrera Vasques said. “Let’s make this a successful and memorable year for all of us.”

Votes can be cast starting today, April 24 through Wednesday, April 26 at: