Voting in elections for the 2021-2022 Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors begins Wednesday as candidates campaign virtually and share their platforms with students.
Polls open online at the ASI website on 8 a.m. and close Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The winners will be announced immediately after the polls close via Zoom.
The State Hornet spoke to the candidates running in the ASI elections about their platforms and how they want to serve the student body.
There are no candidates running for the roles of director of business administration, director of education and director of graduate studies.
President and Executive Vice President
Michael Beller and Francisco De La Torre III:
Michael Beller, third year political science major, is running for ASI President alongside Francisco De La Torre III, who is running for executive vice president and is also a third year political science major.
A first-generation college student, Beller previously served as philanthropy chairman of the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity, president of the Interfraternity Council at Sac State and more recently served as a resident advisor at Riverside Hall.
De La Torre is a student in the Honors Program and has been involved in many areas around Sac State, serving as president of the Environmental Student Organization, a student representative on the UNION/WELL Board of Directors, and currently serving as the ASI Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Beller and De La Torre’s platform is called SAVE, which stands for a safe and inclusive campus reopening, advancing student success resources, vocalizing student issues to administration and ensuring mental health services are accessible and equitable for all.
“We advocate the support of basic needs and fundamental necessities needed to succeed,” Beller said. “There are a lot of programs at Sac State that need their funding and we want to make sure that happens.”
One way that they are looking to accomplish to make themselves stand out from their competitors is also focusing on transparency, citing criticisms about the lack of student involvement in recent decisions made by ASI and administration.
“We plan on making a more transparent Board of Directors with the utilization of new social media strategies as well as personal outreach to students one-on-one,” De La Torre said.
If elected, Beller and De La Torre said they seek in the long term to improve student access mental health services as well as improve outreach to get more students involved with ASI and administration to get more student voices heard and their needs addressed.
“We want to utilize the student body to the point where we have active students as well as the Board of Directors sharing information word-to-mouth,” De La Torre said.
Samantha Elizalde and Joseph Sais:
Third year political science major Samantha Elizalde is running for ASI president, alongside third year journalism major Joseph Sais who is running for executive vice president.
Elizalde has held a few roles in ASI in the past, serving as the ASI director of social sciences and interdisciplinary studies as well as the ASI vice president of academic affairs. She currently serves as the ASI executive vice president.
“The positions I’ve held at Sac State so far have taught me how ASI works, and how we can reach students and connect with them,” Elizalde said.
Sais has previously worked with the PRIDE Center on the Allyship Program, helping provide a space for honest discussions as well as being involved with several anti-racism committees. He currently serves as the ASI director of arts and letters.
Their campaign will be focusing on pandemic recovery, meeting student’s basic needs such as access to food and technology as well as student representation and advocacy.
“In a recent conference, many professors and faculty did not know technology was a basic need for students, so with our role we want to ensure that we are bringing the table to the students instead of having them come to us,” Sais said.
If elected, Elizalde and Sais said they wish to make sure that basic needs are met for all students and to establish better communication lines between students and administration.
“What makes us a better fit for the position is that we both have the experience to adequately understand the issues at hand on our campus and areas we can grow and do better,” Elizalde said.
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Vice President of Finance
Third year public health major Faith Soltero is running for vice president of finance.
Soltero said she has had previous experience in student government while in high school, serving as vice president of her school’s Medical Science Academy. She is currently a peer mentor and an intern for California’s Department of Health Care Services.
Her campaign will be focusing on ensuring smooth operations between committees as well as meeting the financial needs of students, encouraging students to voice their concerns or ideas.
If elected, Soltero said she wants to make sure that each committee has a purpose and that what they produce ultimately serves the students.
“I want to be an effective leader and make sure students have a voice and make a difference at Sac State,” Soltero said.
Also running for the position is third year political science major Francisco Tarin.
Tarin was a part of the Student Economics Association, first as outreach coordinator then as vice president. He also served in the American River Courtyard Hall Council as the director of records and recognition.
He currently serves on the ASI Audit and Scholarship committees and the Faculty Senate as a student representative. He also serves as the vice chair of the Student and Academic Senate.
Tarin’s platform will focus on advocating for mental health services and promoting racial equity, especially in light of recent attacks towards the Asian-American community, as well as ensuring a safe transition to returning to campus.
If elected, Tarin said his primary concern through his term will be to ensure the safe return of students to the classroom so they can go back to in-person learning without fear of COVID-19.
“My long-term goal is ensuring that students get to return to the classroom safely without having to worry about the virus and by the end of the school year be able to confidently say that they are getting the best education possible in-person in time for the 2022-2023 school year,” Tarin said.
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Vice President of University Affairs
Incumbent Vice President of University Affairs Lovepreet Kaur will be running again for the position.
Kaur has worked with ASI since 2019 and was elected into office a year later, helping with donation drives as well as assisting students with financial management.
Running on the slogan “students equal power”, if re-elected, she will continue to further her relationship with students and will direct them to the right committees to make their voices heard, according to her candidate statement on the ASI website.
Kaur did not respond to requests for comment from The State Hornet.
Vice President of Academic Affairs
Running for this position is third year public health major Sadia Ashraf.
She is the incumbent ASI director of undeclared students, serving on several committees, and is a current member of the Phi Mu sorority and an honors student.
Her campaign slogan “pay it forward” focuses on continuing her work with helping students with accessibility to resources they may not know are available to them or that they don’t know how to access, especially for new or transferring students.
“A lot of students struggle with reaching out for help when it comes to administration, advisors or professors,” Ashraf said. “In general, it’s very intimidating, especially for a first year.”
If elected, she said she will not only continue to advocate for students to get the resources they need, she will also advocate for Greek life and the resources they need as well.
The second candidate for vice president of academic affairs is transfer student Salma Pacheco.
Pacheco is an active member of Phi Alpha Delta as well as Mujeres Ayudando la Raza, which is a nonprofit support network geared towards Latina students. She is also the vice president of Sac State’s Ignite chapter, which helps women get involved with politics.
If elected, she seeks to use her experience to help inform and advise faculty and administration on how to better support their students, according to her candidate statement on the ASI website.
Pacheco was not available for comment to The State Hornet prior to this publication.
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Director of Arts and Letters
Running for director of arts and letters is second year theater major Aladria Brown.
A Sacramento native, Brown said she was always involved with school politics at a young age. She attributes her political interest to her grandfather who worked as a school board member and brought her to meetings.
If elected, she wants to create a student panel to help scope out what issues are most important to students to keep the board informed, as well as improving relations between theater students and student government.
“I know most theater students don’t even know that this position exists, so hopefully I can guide some freshmen through as well, if they are lost, even if they are not in my department,” Brown said.
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Director of Engineering and Computer Sciences
Running for director of Engineering and Computer Sciences is third year computer engineering student Srinjay Verma.
Verma has been involved with the Sac State community for over five years, holding officer positions in several ECS clubs throughout campus and was selected for the Hornet Leadership Program.
If elected, he said he plans to bring in more internship and job opportunities for students, get more resources to clubs representing minorities and make sure that student issues are heard and addressed properly.
“I want students to be able to get more quality internships.” Verma said. “I want to connect them up with big name companies.”
Next in this race is second year computer engineering major Garima Sharma.
Sharma has been involved with several ASI committees in the past, was treasurer for the Orientation Club and Internal Friends Association, and is currently serving as student coordinator for the New Student Orientation program.
If elected, she said she will look to expand networking opportunities for students, both professional and social, to help bring a greater sense of community in Sac State, according to her candidate statement on the ASI website.
Sharma did not respond to requests for comment from The State Hornet.
The third candidate on the ticket is computer engineering major Alyssa Rendon.
Rendon was previously a part of the Engineering and Computer Science Joint Council, having worked closely with past ECS directors. She is currently the president of Leading Hispanics in STEM organization.
If elected, she said she will look to build more working relationships with companies and organizations for Sac State, strengthen alumni relations, make sure student concerns are addressed and help show students that there is more to college than academics, according to her candidate statement on the ASI website.
Rendon did not respond to requests for comment from The State Hornet.
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Director of Health and Human Services
Running for director of health and human services is third year nursing student Coleton Matics.
Coleton served in this position for ASI in the 2019-2020 school year, where he focused his efforts on organizing events and focus groups for HHS students, as well as sitting in on several committees in regards to students’ health and well-being.
He currently serves as an undergraduate representative for the California Nursing Students Association and as the education chair for Men in Nursing at Sac State.
If elected, Coleton said he seeks to provide more career-centered events and to help with allocating more resources for students, according to his candidate statement on the ASI website.
Matics did not respond to requests for comment from The State Hornet.
The other candidate on the ticket is second year health science major Gabrielle Mirsky.
Mirsky has worked in the ASI Government Office as a board associate and with the Board of Directors for the past year and a half, where she has been reaching out to students to get them more involved with campus life and have their voices heard on committee.
If elected, she said she wants to provide more opportunities for students to reach their goals through academic clubs and internship opportunities. She also wants to be the voice for the students at Sac State.
“I want to be the voice of the people,” Mirsky said. “I want to listen to the people, so I want to plan to hold many forums and opportunities for students to raise their opinions and concerns to me so that I can best represent them and their needs.”
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Director of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Running for the director of natural sciences and mathematics is second year pre-biology major Isha Bindal.
An international student from India, Bindal said she wants to help bring out students’ potential and to be the best version of themselves physically, mentally and academically, no matter what their background may be.
“I can use my platform to ensure that no one feels inferior, or no one feels that they are not good enough because of their race, creed or religion,” Bindal said.
If elected, she wants to give back to the Sac State community and help shape the students to be the best they can be.
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Director of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies
Running for director of social sciences and interdisciplinary studies is first year political science major Nataly Andrade.
Andrade’s previous experience in student government comes from high school, where she was a part of the student government and student council, also serving as senior class president.
She is currently a part of two ASI committees and is part of a nonprofit called In The Making which helps provide necessities, job training and mentoring for foster youth, undocumented immigrants and low-income families.
If elected, she said she looks to not only fulfil her duties as director of SSIS, but to also make known issues that students bring up and improve the communication between administration and students.
“I believe it’s very important for administrators and students to get along with each other,” Andrade said. “I believe that is the best way for students to have the best education.”
Next up on the ticket is third year political science major Sloane Vanciel.
During her time at Sac State, she has been involved with College Democrats and served as vice president of the SSIS Joint Council, which she said gives her a good deal of familiarity with the role she is running for.
“I also have experience across campus in a variety of different ways, serving in clubs, volunteering and also serving off campus,” Vanciel said.
If elected, she said she wishes to further facilitate cohesion between SSIS clubs and student organizations through an active council and help bring awareness to the opportunities available to SSIS students such as scholarships and internships.
Laura De la Garza:
Nutrition and food major Laura De la Garza is also running for director of SSIS.
A transfer student, De la Garza said she was only able to be on campus for a year before the COVID-19 shutdown took place, leaving her without an opportunity to participate in campus life such as clubs or events. De la Garza said this is something she wants to remedy for her potential constituents.
“Right now with student government, with my involvement in SHAC (Student Health Advisory Committee) and hopefully with my involvement in several other things until I graduate, I’m hoping that I can make up and help other students hop on that train a little bit earlier than I did,” De la Garza said.
If elected, she said she seeks to provide aid to students who may be struggling and show that leadership is not a role, but an action.
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Director of Undeclared Students
Running for director of undeclared students is second year student Dhruvisha Budhani.
An international student from India, Budhani was on the student government board at her middle school and currently serves in several internal ASI committees.
If elected, she will seek to help students find the proper resources they need and also help both new and returning students explore what they are passionate about.
“The reason why I’m running for director of undeclared students is to show that the resources are not just for the undeclared students,” Budhani said.
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