By Erik Fallis
CSU Public Affairs
Being a student leader has its challenges in the best of times. Given the widespread ramifications of a $650 million reduction in state funding for the CSU, these are not the best of times. Fully aware of the struggles ahead, the California State Student Association Board of Directors has stepped up as the voice for all 412,000 CSU students.
CSSA is made up of representatives from the Associated Students on all 23 CSU campuses. CSSA speaks for CSU students in both the Capitol and the Chancellor’s Office, sharing in the development of laws, policies and practices. The board also elects its own leadership, choosing to trust five of their own to set the agenda for the entire year.
As veterans in student advocacy, the officers share a strong vision reinforced through diverse experiences.
Greg Washington is a Political Science and Communication Studies student at CSU Fullerton. Easily the tallest person in the boardroom, he is also one of the most respected.
Washington spent much of last year, as CSSA vice president of legislative affairs, getting students engaged in the electoral process through voter registration drives and a massive advocacy effort aimed at securing legislative approval of the California Dream Act. Washington also expanded the CSSA network in D.C., working on federal issues related to health care, saving the Pell Grant, and preserving university funding.
As CSSA President, Washington will focus on issues of student rights, affordability, financial aid and protecting university funds.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to protect CSU students’ present and future,” said Washington.
Aissa Canchola is a Sociology and American Studies student at CSU Fullerton. She has a deep appreciation for art in its many forms – even catching old black and white movies at Cinespia in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Canchola’s appreciation for creativity allows her to develop solutions that bring people together. She had quite a bit of experience in coalition building as last year’s CSSA multicultural caucus speaker. In a year where much of the political debate swirled around the educational rights of undocumented students, Canchola brought together a coalition that recognized the mutual benefits to all students of standing together on the federal and state Dream Act. She also secured support for a resolution in response to the tragic suicide of a gay student at Rutgers.
Canchola’s coalition building skills will be vital as CSSA Chair. Her goal over the next year will be to motivate and bring the entire board into joint statewide action.
“We owe it to the students to work together in order to achieve a lasting impact,” said Canchola.
Sean Richards is a Political Science student at Sonoma State with a minor in Philosophy. A diehard San Francisco Giants fan, Richards was actually born and raised in Los Angeles.
Richards’ affinity for multiple regions of California made him a natural to carry the student voice to the legislature as last year’s CSSA financial aid officer. The role put him directly into the firestorm of Cal Grant, Pell Grant and Dream Act legislative actions that increased the urgency for ensuring the student voice was heard by government policymakers.
Given that affordability will continue to be a major topic of budget and policy discussion, all that experience in financial aid will serve Richards well. As CSSA vice president of legislative affairs, Richards intends to continue responding to threats to Cal Grants and Pell at the state and federal level.
Michael Quibuyen is an Environmental Science and Policy student at CSU Long Beach. Those attending CSSA meetings or rallies probably recognize Quibuyen as the person behind the camera. Photography has been Quibuyen’s hobby since his freshman year of high school, and he frequently puts that skill to use by recording student advocacy efforts.
Quibuyen also has a passion for new things, something that went well with his role last year. In 2010, as CSSA technology officer, Quibuyen wrote a systemwide resolution calling for the standardization of student response systems. Now, 18 out of 23 CSU campuses have a process for selecting a single device for students in order to keep costs for supplemental materials down. Quibuyen is also an advocate for sustainability, and pushed the idea of electronic teacher evaluations in order to reduce paper waste.
As vice president of university affairs, Quibuyen plans to continue sustainability as a major focus. With the Greenovation Fund, he wants to fund more projects by reaching more campuses and increasing applications. Quibuyen also plans to work with the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions Campaign and address other issues that will affect students, such as Online Learning. Quibuyen overarching goal is to maintain great working relationships with the administration and faculty, while making sure that students have a clear voice in shared governance.
Tomasz Kolodziejak is an Economics graduate student at San José State. There is multilingual and then there is Kolodziejak who speaks five languages – Polish, English, Russian, German, and Spanish. He speaks six languages if you count Finance or Economics.
Kolodziejak put his financing background to work launching a new Associated Student Scholarship fund at SJSU, awarding a total of $81,500 last year. You can see the brochure for the scholarship here. Kolodziejak first got involved in student government by serving as a Director of Intercultural Affairs. He celebrates SJSU’s role as one of the most diverse campuses on the West coast.
Kolodziejak’s main goal as CSSA vice president of finance is to maintain financial stability for the organization and to improve fundraising efforts – a role that will put both his communicating and financing skills to work.