By Ernesto Hernandez
Vice President of Services
Being Vice President of Services for Downtown Phoenix has been such a rewarding task. I’ve gotten to meet so many student leaders, community organizers, and have seen our community thrive.
I knew when running on a ticket with Jackson & Jimmy, I’d have to tackle some topics that students were concerned about. As Vice President of Services, I overlook engagement on the Downtown Phoenix campus. I promised to assist student organizations, promote self-determination of our students, ensuring that our Sun Devil Express is effective while promoting safety, and advocating for our students at the state and local level.
Assisting Student Organizations
Last semester, I was able to hold Sun Devil Coalition meetings with our student organization leaders, and hear their concerns at the Downtown Phoenix Campus. Their number one concern was the lack of student development for student organization leaders.
I’m proud to say that starting this semester, student leaders will be able to see workshops hosted by our Educational Outreach and Student Services and learn different ways they can improve on their leadership skills. I will also be ordering more resources for our students organization leaders to checkout throughout the semester.
Apart from adding new workshops, attendance to Sun Devil Coalition meetings is required for Student Fee funding. This ensures that our student organization leaders are gathering necessary updates from USGD and our office of the Dean of Students. Communication is extremely important, and we are thankful to have seen attendance slowly improve throughout the semester.
This semester, we are also finding ways to make sure our student leaders will be able to opt-in on meetings remotely via conference calls, and/or modules online. While this is currently in the process, implementations plan to happen in February.
Promoting Self-determination of our Students
A project which I’ll be focusing a lot solely this semester is promoting self-determination of our students.
I absolutely love our student support services at Arizona State University, as a student who actively visits our campus resources, I am promoting that our students provide feedback to improve on these services.
I want to hold focus groups and learn what our students have to say about their experience within these services. Finding ways we can improve is a step in the right direction, and can improve the lives of our students. While working with our Dean of Students, we will collaboratively work together to ensure that our students voices are heard, and that their feedback is met. Implementation of these changes happen by mid-February.
Ensuring our Sun Devil Express is Effective While Promoting Safety
The Sun Devil Express has been a project which USGD has been implementing for years. As we mention in may of our Senate Meetings, our numbers need to increase.
We’ve held surveys, and noticed that our students are uneducated on the Sun Devil Express. Last semester, we did a huge flyer blast where we posted flyers on every door in Taylor Place, and went to every parking lot at the Downtown Phoenix Campus. After reviewing our numbers, they did slightly increase. Getting these numbers up is a top priority that we have, as well as gathering student feedback from students who use the Sun Devil Express.
This semester, USGD will be tabeling more frequently on Taylor Mall, to ensure that our students know what the Sun Devil Express is, and how it can help them get from campus to their parking lots safely. Currently, there are projects in development, and will be hosted mid-late January.
Advocating for Our Students At The State & Local Level
While working closely with our Vice President of Policy & Director of State & Municipal Affairs, I will be constantly briefed on matters from our State Capitol, as well as Arizona State University, and the City of Phoenix. The changes being brought up at these state and local meetings can determine change and affect the opportunities for our students.
As we learned last semester, DACA students were in fear due to the 2016 election results. Enough is enough, and we have to be an advocate for every single student at our university. We welcome thousands of backgrounds, and walks of life. Closing the door to opportunity is not what our institution was founded on. Our students should never have to be in fear. I will work closely with our policy team and our senate to encourage equal opportunity for all of our students.
A movement which I’m extremely excited to be working on will be about mental health on campus. It’s time to change the stigma of mental health, and provide support and education to our students. While working closely with President Dangremond and Dr. Aaron Krasnow, we will be able to educate our students and change the stigma of mental health. This project will be in development for a couple of months, and a phase date is not yet determined.
I will also be working closely with our senate to introduce a few bills to improve our student government. Changes to be introduced are community service requirements of staff and increasing tabling on Taylor Mall. These two changes can put the faces of our staff members in our community, in hopes of connecting with more students, and inspiring change.