Every spring Cuesta College holdsÂ student government elections.Â The election process allows students to cast a vote for the candidate they feel best represents the student body as a whole. ASCC is encouraging students over the next few days to vote for the person they feel will represent and speak up for the needs of all students on campus.
The ASCC hosted a 45 minuteÂ Zoom meetingÂ onÂ Thursday, May 7 from 12:15 p.m to 1:00 p.m., giving each candidate seven minutes to explain why they should be elected for the position they are running for. The nominees presented their platform to the student body before the elections, whichÂ opened that same day at 2:00 p.m.
Students from both the North and SLO Campus have been sent an email through their Cuesta College email accounts, which provides a link to the online voting website.Â Making it quick and efficient for all students to cast their vote.
Running for the student body gives individuals the opportunity to be part of the student government, and it is the first step towards potentially representing a diverse population at Cuesta College.
The application for the election deadline, which was extended due to COVID-19 and Cuesta College moving to fully online courses, has postponed some dates for ASCC. The organization is now back on track, and ready to vote in a new incumbent.
Students and faculty had the chance to virtually meet and ask questions with nominees Carmen Cannon for President/Student Trustee (Jesus Candejas wasnâ€™t present), and Roseann Schaefer, candidate for Vice President, via Zoom.
Jesus Cendejas is running for ASCC President/Student trustee in the hopes of bringing more color and multicultural diversity to Cuesta College.
â€œTogether letâ€™s bring a prismatic array of colors painting to the walls and halls of Cuesta College with blazing colors that wakes us up and remind us we stand in the beautiful Central Coast either in Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo campuses that represents our true multiculturalism as a campus populous,â€ Cendejas said.
Cendejas is a dual enrollment student majoring in physiology and human development. He is a first-generation college student who is centering his campaign around the need for an ethnic studies program at Cuesta College.
â€œItâ€™s imperative and academically advisable that Cuesta College as designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic serving institution keep up and finally create an Ethnic Studies Program Degree with Chicano, Black, Asian and Jewish concentrations that competes with other higher education systems and represents the diversity of San Luis Obispo County and Cuesta,â€ Cendejas said.
With the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de AztlanÂ (MECha) clubâ€™sÂ official endorsement, Cendejas plans to increase diversity and motivational conferences for high school recruitment and Cuesta College students.
â€œIn order to get a quality education we have to communicate with one and another regardless of the differences,â€ Cendejas said.
Cendejas is running againstÂ Carmen Cannon, a second-year political science major. Cannon has been inspired to run for the office of ASCC President because she is concerned about making Cuesta College a more inclusive community for all students. Cannon believes there are ways to make students feel more comfortable, by being more active in creating cultural events, game night tournaments, or movie and pizza nights, all contributing to creating a more tight-knit community.
Cannon feels that being active and involved in ASCC events is the key to making more connections with the student body. With COVID-19 and the uncertainty of being on campus through 2020-21, she feels that through social media there are ways to connect and get your message out to the students, regardless.
That message, one of inclusiveness, bonding and having the resources to connect to other students, will be high on her priority list. Although getting students involved may be one of her biggest challenges, she feels that rejuvenating spirit week at the college could be an avenue to get students excited and participating more.
â€œIf I were to be elected ASCC President, my main goal is to help make Cuesta a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students,â€Â Carmen said.Â â€œA way that could make this happen is by holding more events at Cuesta, such as dances, silent disco movie nights, and or karaoke. I feel that these types of events can help make Cuesta more of a tight-knit community.â€
To be ASCC President/Student Trustee, one must possess the skills to be an effective leader. Being an active ambassador for theÂ Cougar Pals (Peer Academic Leaders)Â comes with serving your community and being a positive representative for the college. Through this program, she has acquired both leadership and communication skills, greater knowledge of both campuses, and networking skills with faculty and administration in the Cuesta College district.
Incorporating well thought out ideas and listening to students are important characteristics for the job. Communication is key for Cannon, and she feels that strategies like surveys are really a great way to reach out to students. This can be done through social media with online classes, and potentially in person if classes resume on campus.
Roseann Schaefer is running for ASCC Vice-President unopposed. Schaefer, who is the only VP on the electronic ballot, admits she was talked into applying for the position by her colleagues. Representing a wide gamut of students is a strength her classmates think she possesses, which is an important trait to have when trying to relate to various ages that make up the eclectic student body on Cuesta Collegeâ€™s campus.
â€œBeing older, I kind of represent the older students who are coming back to school or returning to school,â€ Schaefer said. â€œMaybe they have had hard times or are returning from the workforce. I have a feel for what people want and need.â€
Representing ASCC as both Senator and Publicity Director, her experience and skills is something that she could immediately put to use in supporting the newly elected Student President.
In the last school year, Schaefar put in time as a student government leader and understands how the process works, including the importance of inter-relating with faculty and administration while having a voice for the students.
The ASCC transitioned to electronic voting a few years ago, but reaching the students and not having the ability to campaign on campus has been a challenge during the shelter in place this election season.Â One positive to having an online application this year was the increase in applicants for both elected and appointed positions.
This yearâ€™s candidates come to the table with experience, knowledge, inclusiveness, pride, wisdom, encouragement, and energy. Now is the opportunity for Cuesta College students to vote for the person they feel has the best qualities to represent the diverse student body, the college, and the community.
Cuesta College students are encouraged to check their student emails in order to access the online ballot and vote for their candidate of choice. Ballots close on May 11, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. with results to be posted online thereafter.
Michael Costa contributed to this story.