New ASULV leaders respond to shifts in campus culture

Nickolas Mclean, incoming ASULV president
Nickolas Mclean, incoming ASULV president

David Rafael Gonzalez
LV Life Editor

photography by Natalie Medrano

Nickolas Mclean, junior business administration and theater major, and Isela Chavez, sophomore legal studies and French major, were recently elected as president and executive vice president of the Associated Students of the University of La Verne for the 2022-2023 school year.

Mclean said that with the return to in-person, there has been a fundamental change in campus culture and having that change in mind is important as student leaders. He said this change in campus culture resulted in lower student engagement.

Chavez said that improving resources on campus is going to be one of the priorities for the upcoming year.

Both Mclean and Chavez said that though they plan on trying to fix issues like low student engagement, accessibility to student services and transparency, they are open to student input on other issues that need to be addressed.

Mclean and Chavez elaborated on their plans as ASULV leaders in an interview with Campus Times LV Life Editor David Rafael Gonzalez. (This interview has been edited for length.)

David Rafael Gonzalez: Why did you decide to run?

Isela Chavez: I really have enjoyed my time in ASULV and I’ve always been in student government. I’ve been in student government since elementary school. I really enjoy being proactive on campus and making an impact. I have a lot of goals in mind in regards to the campus, so I wanted to continue working on that.

Nickolas Mclean: I think that it’s a really unique opportunity to help ASULV from an internal perspective and help create an organization that people can look at and say, “hey how am I being advocated for? How are my views being expressed?” I think that being able to be in that position is an honor and something that I’ve always wanted to work towards. I plan on going into politics, because I’m going to go to law school, so being able to get a sense of advocacy and seeing how we can improve student resources and all these different things for students on campus and creating a University we’re all proud to attend is something that I’d love to help.

DG: How will you help improve student engagement and outreach?

Isela Chavez, incoming ASULV vice president
Isela Chavez, incoming ASULV vice president

IC: Some of the ideas I had in mind were to connect with different organizations on campus because personally for me, there’s not that many people who know what ASULV is or what we do because we focus more on internal issues, like club funding. I want to make sure that students are aware about what ASULV is and what we do and the amount of outreach that we do. So just connecting with different organizations. We have committees in ASULV and one of the goals (we have) is to work on those committees to make sure we are proactively working on making an impact, like the food committee, housing committee, diversity, equity inclusivity committee.

NM: As a University and as student leaders, it’s easy to compare our student engagement now to pre-COVID, but I think there’s been a fundamental shift in how students view college. It went from the college experience that was advertised to be more like “hey, I’m here to get my degree and leave.” Part of that is if we keep comparing ourselves to pre-COVID numbers, it’s hard to say it’ll ever get back to the way that it was. So just restarting and being like “this is how we did last year, lets see how we can do better this year,” rather than being like “three years ago this event was massive and 80% of the student body attended.” So that’s one thing about it – looking at it in a different lens and not comparing ourselves to pre-COVID. And moving forward just making sure that we have a strong reading on campus culture because it’s also been a complete cultural reset. Half of our student body is gone now and we have this new half from before and after COVID. It’s just a different culture now and being in tune with what that culture is and structuring events and planning around that so we can create events that students are excited for and want to attend.

DG: To you, what is the importance of diversity and inclusivity? How will you advocate for student voices with that in mind?

IC: I’m actually a part of the diversity equity and inclusivity committee this year, and I hold diversity as a strong value of mine. I love being part of a community and organization that values diversity. For me I plan on working on that by continuing to work on collaboration with mental health resources. I know a lot of students struggle with mental health, especially from the transition back in person and it was difficult for a lot of students. And also accessibility services as well, just making sure that we are putting an effort into making everything accessible to everyone and including those with disabilities.

NM: When it comes to diversity, one of the important things is that. Over this last year during one of our meetings, we had someone come to us and explain how we can be more accessible and they spoke out to us on how to improve. That was a strong realization where I was like “hey, we should be extending the invitation to people of communities that we need to represent more. and have them attend our meetings to get their perspective” because, you know, I can speculate all I want but I won’t be able to fundamentally improve. I only have my own ideas from others’ ideas, and hearing the people from the communities we want to improve accessibility is the main goal.

DG: What issues do you see in the food and housing services, and how do you hope to improve them?

NM: I’m actually head of the food committee right now, and I noticed that a lot of students tend to prefer Barb’s over The Spot. So I was like, if that’s true, first off how do we improve The Spot so they can be more equal, and how do we make it so students can have more access to Barb’s? So those were the two questions I wanted to answer. So one of the things we’re going to be rolling out next year is called the “Late Night Swipe” and that was something ASULV took strong initiative in and we went in to improve. That’s going to be a swipe where after The Spot closes at 8 p.m., from 8 to 10 p.m., you can use your meal swipe at Barb’s instead of Leo Points. That was really important and moving forward, increasing the variety students have and improving hours. I know students want things like having The Spot serve hot food for longer and more often.

IC: And in regards to housing, I’m one of the heads of the housing committee. I’m in partnership with RHA, the Residence Hall Association, and as an out-of-state student myself, I want to make sure that I hear everyone’s opinions about housing and how we can improve that environment. There have been a lot of issues like the food and making it more accessible and every resident has the resources that they need. One thing that we’re implementing currently is we’re adding free menstrual products in the bathrooms of the residence halls and they started putting them up in Citrus a few weeks ago. We’re going to continue adding them throughout the summer to hopefully have it done by next semester. Since that issue came up, I want to work on making sure that’s implemented throughout campus and not just in the residence halls.

DG: How will you improve transparency with the University?

NM: One of the biggest issues is that ASULV should function as an immediate connection between the student body and faculty and advisers. It’s a two step process: first making sure that ASULV is also aware. We also need to make sure that we have that. So one of the things that I’m going to be doing is with all of the meetings with the University making sure that someone from ASULV is there. One of the things we talked about – I don’t want people to get too excited about it – was a podcast. So we could attend these meetings and maybe have a podcast once or twice a month to talk about everything that’s going on and what ASULV is doing.

DG: What student resources within ASULV committees and on campus are you hoping to expand?

IC: There’s a lot of resources on campus that a lot of students just don’t know about or don’t use. So making sure that students are aware of these resources and tying them back to our committees and making sure that we are listening to students when issues come up so we can work on them.

NM: Improving resources just overall in different aspects. All of our committees correspond to specific resources on campus. So making sure that we improve our committees’ functions, it should translate to an increase and improvement in the resources.

DG: What are your hopes for the upcoming year?

IC: I’m passionate about making an impact, so making sure I put that to use as my position as vice president and tying it back to student engagement. Student engagement has suffered a lot since we’re back in person and I want to make sure that students feel supported through ASULV.

NM: My hope is that next year, students feel like they’re being heard. That’s a fundamental issue, especially between faculty and the higher ups on campus. It feels like sometimes the student body voice falls on flat ears, so I hope that we can do our best to fix that. I can’t be responsible for what the higher ups do, but I hope our voices are heard. I’m also really hopeful for a student body and an ASULV that’s really exciting. We’re all feeling that there’s a momentum into the new year, and I’m excited for that.

DG: Do you have any last thoughts or messages?

NM: Our senate meetings are 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Monday, you can also drop in for office hours in our Student Affairs suite. If there’s literally any moment where you feel like you’re not being heard or issues that need to be spoken up, please come to us. We can only fix issues that we’re aware of.

IC: Also follow us on Instagram and to be on the lookout for any events we have. And to please stop by during our office hours with any concerns you may have.

David Rafael Gonzalez can be reached at david.gonzalez9@laverne.edu.

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David Rafael Gonzalez is a senior journalism major and LV Life editor of the Campus Times. He has been a three-time editor-in-chief and has also served as editorial director, LV Life editor and a staff writer.

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Natalie Medrano, a junior photography major, is the Fall 2022 photography editor for the Campus Times and a staff photographer for La Verne Magazine.

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