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Sophomore political science major David Asbra and freshman business major Selyna Ybarra were elected Associated Students of the University of La Verne president and executive vice president, respectively, for 2014-2015.
Asbra previously served as executive vice president for the 2013-2014 school year along with Bethie Ross as president. Ybarra also served as senator at large.
As student government officials, Asbra and Ybarra said they want more transparency between administration and students.
This week, ASULV released a resolution declaring it disagreed with the University’s recent 4.9 percent hike in tuition.
A lot of students feel like ASULV sides with administration, especially with topics like tuition. What are you planning to do to get your voice out to students and say that you represent them and not administration?
Asbra: We don’t blame students or administration for this. It’s misconstrued. Less than a month ago the provost came to us and told us about the decision and said ‘It’s kind of finished and complete I can’t do much about it.’
He just became provost so he wasn’t even part of that process either, but he still wanted to let us know and was probably the first time administration did that in the first place.
So we kind of thanked him for that. But at the same time, administration asked for our approval, we didn’t necessarily approve. We kind of just accepted because we can’t do anything for this year.
One of my senators came up with a resolution and it basically advocates for ASULV to actually be represented within the Board of Trustees meetings or to have students actually have a voice.
The resolution basically says that students need to be heard, there needs to be a forum to where we can voice our opinions.
In the state of University (President Devorah Lieberman) said that 98 percent of the tuition goes toward the budget, so that’s a huge chunk of students that are paying and if we don’t have any say whatsoever, then that’s an issue.
That’s what this resolution is trying to push for and advocate, just to get our voices heard and actually be on the agenda when they do discuss the important things that are going to affect the whole campus.
Do you feel administration doesn’t listen to the voice of ASULV as much as you would like?
Asbra: I do say they are good at listening, and they’ve gotten a lot better. In any institution or organization there are always growing points and I wouldn’t necessarily always fault them.
I think it’s a structuration thing that they are so used to a certain way that sometimes it’s hard to change.
I can’t necessarily blame them for that, but at the same time students want to advocate for certain things and it could be challenging and it could take longer that we hoped and wished for.
But I can see that within the last year it has gotten better and I see it continuously.
With the resolution that ASULV is presenting to the board of trustees and president, they’re open and receptive to that. They’re improving on that as well.
What is going to be your main focus while in office?
Ybarra: Some points are face to face interaction.
We want more students to go out to more club meetings, more CAB events, more club events really, so they know that we support them and know that we’re here for them in general.
Another one is creating a more comfortable atmosphere because there is talk about people not feeling comfortable talking to ASULV.
So we’re having an issue booth coming out soon so people come out on their way to lunch or on their way to class, so it’s not such of an inconvenience and instill the school atmosphere.
Another thing is transparency between administration and students.
Asbra: To go off from the transparency part, I know that in recent years it has gotten a bit better between administration and students. But at the same time there are obviously some decisions that are handed down and (we are) not necessarily asked whether or not we agree. It’s more of a given and we kind of have to either agree with it or we don’t have any say.
That’s something we want to change. I don’t think that’s necessarily negative on (administration’s) part, they just come from a different perspective. They don’t have the perspective of students.
They’re board of trustees, people who donate to the school, people who are running the school, but don’t necessarily have our perspective as students.
As students who pay to go here and with a tuition — tuition goes toward 98 percent of the budget — it is important to get the voices of students.
What are the major issues of the University that you are aiming to improve?
Asbra: One of the things obviously is the current parking situation.
As we’ve been told, the Vista students will most likely not be moving to the shuttle lot next year, but it still might impact the students still, just maybe in a subsection.
That’s one thing that we’re currently doing now.
I’m part of the parking committee so I would like to continue that for next year. Essentially, when you pay for Vista you are paying for Lot D — that’s your garage.
That’s what we are kind of trying to tell administration.
If (administration) listens, then hopefully they’ll be more receptive. That’s one of the main points.
Ybarra: Another is eco-friendliness. We feel like our school could be way greener. Not even just (ASULV) but SEEDS (Students Engaged in Environmental Discussion and Service) as well, has really good ideas about what they want from our school and make our school little more green and sustainable to the planet.
Another thing is housing. People have problems with small things like, the microwave probably should’ve been replaced, and those are things that are really easy to be replaced. Working with RHA is going to help.
As vice president last year, is there anything you did not achieve last year that you are hoping to this year?
Asbra: When you have projects on things, they do take a while whether it is just because it is a big project, or it may take a while for people to understand, or fully see one point of view.
Parking — I’ve seen small needs, it’s not as bad, but the Vista issue is the main one in this particular moment that I want to change. I have a good feeling about it, hopefully it will, but we’ll see how receptive administration will be.
Another one, not necessarily that we haven’t completed but that I want to continue, is more support for athletics and the arts.
I don’t think this is a project that will ever be completed because I always want more people to show up and more people to support, so I guess in a sense that may never be finished, but sometimes that I do want to continue to work on as well.
President Lieberman said there was a budget surplus, Where are you hoping this money would go to?
Asbra: We heard this was at least the second year this has happened. We do not have the power to pick where it goes.
In the years in the past it’s been put in the endowment or other projects.
There are projects that we want to complete that we don’t necessarily have funds for or other things that could be improved on campus.
Ybarra: One of them being the water fountains in housing.
We want those in Oaks, we want them in Stu-Han, because Vista already has it, and we think that with the surplus it could become more possible for us because those things cost a lot of money.
Mariela Patron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.