Running a campus during virtual semester: Meet Sac State’s ASI Board


Camryn Dadey

Members of the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors explain their motivations for serving in student government. The board as a whole discussed their strategic priorities for the year at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Photo of Donna Walters courtesy of ASI, photo Joshua Bozarth courtesy of himself, and other photos via Zoom screenshot.

Camryn Dadey

Members of the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors were elected in April 2020 with a 6.5% turnout out of 30,331 students, according to results published by ASI. The candidates ran their campaigns online amid COVID-19 restrictions forcing them to change their platforms.

This year, the board has goals to best assist students despite the academic year of 2020-2021 being taught virtually. The State Hornet spoke to the board members about their motivations for serving on the board. 

Noah Marty, president 

ASI President Noah Marty says he has always been focused on equity for students. The onset of COVID during last year’s election shifted his platform to seeing how ASI could provide resources to all students while learning virtually. Photo by Camryn Dadey via Zoom.

ASI President Noah Marty’s campaign began last year at the same time the COVID-19 crisis began, which he said shifted his focus to making sure students have equal access to resources on campus while classes are online.

“When I began running for ASI president, COVID was just starting, but we had no idea how it was going to go,” Marty said. “A lot of my initial platform was built before COVID, focusing on support and equity on campus.”

Marty and his running mate Donna Walters initially focused on equity in student representation and highlighting the student perspective on campus. As the continuing COVID-19 crisis has caused campus to remain closed, Marty said his focus this year is ensuring that the quality of education students are receiving with online classes is as close as possible to a regular semester.

“This means supporting students that have access issues, whether that’s access to a laptop, to the internet or to a safe space to do those classes,” Marty said. “It’s about where we can support students.”

RELATED: Sac State ASI candidates campaign online amid COVID-19 pandemic

This is Marty’s fourth year working with ASI. As a freshman, he was an intern in the Office of Governmental Affairs, and he became the legislative affairs coordinator the following year. As a junior, he was elected vice president of university affairs and decided to run for president his senior year.

Marty said his passion for supporting students lies in a “passion for legislation as well as advocacy.”

“My major responsibility is being the face of ASI,” Marty said. “Any matters affecting students, I represent our campus, and I can bring the student voice to the capitol. We represent 30,000 people in the Sacramento area. So much can be done at local and state levels to advocate for students.”

Donna Walters, executive vice president

ASI Executive Vice President Donna Walters said her experience in the workforce helps her to understand the needs of students. She said her “Number one goal is student success.” Photo courtesy of ASI.

Donna Walters, executive vice president, said she ran for her position because she wanted to be the connection between campus administration and students.

Her responsibilities as executive vice president include chairing the weekly meetings and working with the ASI president to oversee all internal committees.

Walters is currently a graduate student in the Masters of Business Administration program. She has 20 years of experience working in community management as a manager for homeowners associations. She finished her degree in business with a concentration in management of human resources and organizational behavior in spring 2020.

“I took a big break from school and focused on my career, but I hit a glass ceiling and I wanted to move past that,” Walters said. “When I got here to Sac State, the students here were really empowered to make a difference, and that’s one thing I love about ASI.”

While at Sac State, Walters helped co-found the Stinger Esports club for students who enjoy online gaming. Her nickname, “BasicTaq,” comes from her online gaming name. 

RELATED: Sac State Stinger Esports club continues to grow

After she helped to grow the online gaming community on campus, she decided to focus her efforts on helping students with an interest in business and professional careers.

“My number one goal is student success, and a lot of that stems from the challenges I faced when I was young,” Walters said. “I don’t want others to have to go through the struggles I went through. It makes me happy to see other people achieve success and see others’ happiness flourish.”

Walters’s and Marty’s goal is to amplify the student voice on campus and examine where ASI can create a more equitable environment.

“I realize not all groups are given the same opportunities to succeed, and that needs to change,” she said. “There is a very clear need for equity.”

Prabhjyot Shinh, vice president of finance

Prabhjyot Shinh, vice president of finance, says while this role is a “big responsibility,” she feels lucky to be able to provide resources to students who come to her with help. Photo by Camryn Dadey via Zoom.

Prabhjyot Shinh, vice president of finance, says she decided to participate in ASI to give back to Sac State after transferring here in her third year.

Shinh is a fourth year business major who moved to the United States from India in 2017 and went to a San Jose community college before transferring to Sac State.

She served as the director of undeclared students last year, and she was initially elected as the director of business administration this year, until the vice president of finance position became available and she was voted in by board members.

Shinh calls this role a “step into big responsibility.”

“I am the chief financial officer overseeing all financial councils and any legislation that is related to anything financial,” Shinh said. “I also oversee the ASI budget formation and make sure that student fees are being used in a good way.”

Shinh said her experience being a transfer student gave her the knowledge about all the resources that Sac State has to offer, which now helps her serve the students who come to her for help.

“It feels so good to help when students share problems and I have the resources to help,” Shinh said. “Sac State has so many resources and if you know people who have the resources, you can connect students to what they need.”

Samantha Elizalde, vice president of academic affairs

Samantha Elizalde, vice president of academic affairs, says her main priorities this year are to uplift the BIPOC community and help the campus transition to more sustainable practices for the environment. Photo by Camryn Dadey via Zoom.

Samantha Elizalde, vice president of academic affairs, said her goal is to “uplift her community” and that she is focused on representation in ASI and activism on campus despite the semester being online.

Elizalde’s role on the board of directors is to represent students in any issues regarding enrollment, curriculum, diversity and graduation.

“I meet with administration and I sit as a student representative on the Faculty Senate and other committees,” Elizalde said. “I’m always making sure I’m connecting with my constituents.”

Elizalde, who is a third year political science major, said her main focus this year is justice and equality on campus.

“Right now, I want to ensure we have BIPOC representation and are uplifting the voices of our BIPOC students,” Elizalde said.

BIPOC is a popular acronym that stands for “Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”

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Additionally, Elizalde said she wants to continue to focus on environmental sustainability on campus. She served as the chair of the Green Team, an ASI committee responsible for advising the university on sustainability, last year and she said she aims to bring some of those goals to the ASI Board of Directors.

“When it comes to environmental justice, I want to ensure that we’re leading our campus to go green. Last year, we focused on eliminating food waste at the dining hall,” Elizalde said. 

Ensuring sustainability on campus is more difficult this semester because classes have gone virtual, but Elizalde said her focus is educating students on what they can do at home to go green.

“It’s difficult now that we’re going through COVID, but I made sure to get that on the strategic priorities for ASI. Even though we’re in COVID, climate change is still real,” Elizalde said. “I want to bring awareness to how you can be more sustainable in everyday life, even while going through COVID and being at home. Little things can make big impacts if done in numbers.”

Karla Lozada, director of engineering and computer science

Karla Lozada, director of engineering and computer science, said her experiences as a first generation student and a transfer student give her the ability to analyze the needs of students. Photo by Camryn Dadey via Zoom.

Karla Lozada, director of engineering and computer science, said she ran for a position on the board of directors to represent students with experiences similar to hers, being a first-generation college student and a transfer student.

“I was able to succeed using resources that most students don’t realize we have, like tutoring and career advising, so I wanted to see how I could help provide resources to students who have trouble accessing them,” Lozada said. 

RELATED: Sac State launches support center for first-generation students

Her role is to represent all engineering and computer science students and connect with students in that college.

“I am the official representative for this college, so every month I talk with the dean and show him what’s troubling students, especially with what is happening with COVID-19. Then, we talk about how we can solve it,” Lozada said. 

Lozada said her experience with computer science and her interest in being a data engineer helps her understand the needs of the students she represents.

“While I was running, classes were remote. I couldn’t meet students in person, so I created a survey for students to see what they wanted me to change,” Lozada said. “It’s really important to not only talk with students but to have that data to back up my argument when I speak with the dean.”

Lozada said she “never imagined being so vocal and making all these decisions.”

Joshua Bozarth, director of business administration

Business Administration Director Joshua Bozarth’s passion for helping students find their voice led him to the Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of Joshua Bozarth.

Joshua Bozarth, director of business administration, joined ASI because of his interest in leadership and his passion for business.

“As director, it is my responsibility to be listening to our constituents’ concerns regarding school, things going on with legislation at the state level and anything they’re concerned about that would involve student government,” Bozarth said. 

As a business major, Bozarth said his goal is to open his own consulting business to help support the growth of local businesses. He got involved with ASI through the Finance and Budget Committee in order to further his experience with business and finances.

“The Finance and Budget Committee is one of the committees where you learn the most about ASI, because departments of ASI will all come to the meetings and they will present to everyone on the committee. That way, we can make a more informed decision when it comes to the budget. Having that experience, it gave me an advantage going into the board,” Bozarth said.

Bozarth was interested in the director position because he wanted to “get more students to voice their opinions on campus.”

“We have a decent amount of students who vote in our ASI elections. However, it’s not nearly enough compared to our student body on campus,” Bozarth said. “One of my main goals this year is getting more students involved in not only committees, but ASI elections and our events.”