Sac State students want university president who understands their struggles

University hosts open forum to replace Robert Nelsen


Cristian Gonzalez

Jenn Galinto, a third-year political science and journalism major, speaking at the new president open forum in the University Union Ballroom Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. The Advisory Committee for the Selection for the New University President will be selecting a president this semester before Robert Nelsen’s retirement in July.

Tierra Tilby

Students gathered in the University Union Ballroom Friday to give their input on who they thought should be selected as the next Sacramento State president.

Students said they want a candidate who is a woman of color, student focused and proactive in preventing sexual assaults on campus.  

Annalisa Vasquez, a senior criminal justice major, said she wanted a candidate who is more educated on how sexual assaults impact underrepresented communities on campus.

This concern was prompted by Vasquez after several sexual assaults were reported on and nearby campus. 

“I ask that the next president to come here will be more educated about these acts and what they look like for [people of color], for all gender identities, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ community,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said she hopes a new university president would require sex education courses for all students, and for faculty and staff to be trained and educated in Title IX. 

Many faculty members and students spoke about the importance of having a woman of color become the new university president, including Jenn Galinato, a third year political science and journalism major.

“I’m looking for someone who I can look to and say ‘I am so proud to go to Sac State because that is a president that understands my struggles,’” Galinato said. 

Galinato said she wants a president who implements anti-racism plans, post pandemic focused initiatives, but most importantly: is student-focused. 

“I want to see that students are ensured to be successful, especially as a transfer student,” Galinato said. ”Transfer rates have fluctuated the past few years. That impacts [student] enrollment, graduation and retention rates.” 

Kaitlyn Fernandes, a second year psychology major, said she hopes the board takes into account what students voiced at the forum.

Fernandes, who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, said it’s important to have a president who doesn’t overlook marginalized communities on campus. 

“Those communities haven’t really been mentioned too much,” she said. “That needs highlighting with a new president.” 

The next steps for the forum will be kept in house, according to the Advisory Committee. Who the candidates are will not be shared with the public, in order to protect the candidates’ existing jobs, the committee said. 

Fernandes said she would want another forum or a student-led discussion in the future to gather insight on who the Advisory Committee should look for in a new president. 

“[This progress] would be more effective if students have more of a direct say in who gets to be the president,” Fernandes said. “So we can ask them questions directly and hear them respond.”

The Advisory Committee for the Selection of the President will choose the next president. This committee includes faculty, CSU trustees, staff, Associated Students, Inc of Sac State, and alumni.

The California State University Board of Trustees will also have a say in selecting President Robert Nelsen’s replacement.

Sac State should hear more about a new president in May, according to CSU Board of Trustees member Diego Arambula.

Students, faculty and the Sacramento community are welcome to send their questions, comments and Sac State president nominations to [email protected] .