New ASWU president reveals his goals for 2015-16

by Erin Dahl ,

New ASWU President Shamir Cervantes ’16 secured 65 percent of the vote during a runoff election against Meghan Cusick ’16 last March. In an interview for the Bearcat Bulletin, Cervantes, a rhetoric major, offered some insights into the goals and challenges he faces in his new role on campus:

Q. Why did you run for ASWU president?
A. I think I know the campus well, and I have leadership experience from high school. There, I served as class president, re-founding president of the Latino Club, student representative to the superintendent’s Student Advisory Board and student representative to the school’s Site Council. At Willamette, I worked with the local civil rights organization, Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality (SKCE), in establishing a mock trial program. I also have a background in public speaking.

Q. What has the job been like so far?
A. We’re in the scheduling and planning phase for everything, which is actually a lot of work at once. There are more than a dozen ASWU committees, and I have to nominate people for all of them.

Q. What are you enjoying the most about this position, and what is the most frustrating?
A. There’s a lot more people in charge of little things than people know, and finding out about that process is fascinating. For example, there are over a dozen committees to which I recently appointed student representatives. The biggest challenge is probably learning how to balance my time between my studies and serving as ASWU president.

Q. What is your main goal for this year and why?
A. There’s a trend with university administrators sharing information about new policies with students after the policies take effect. Examples include the closure of Zena Farm last year and the plan to make the university tobacco free starting Jan. 1. This needs to change. I want to help students contact people on various decision-making committees, and I want to keep students aware of the work committee members are doing. I also want to make students aware of decisions before they take effect, particularly on controversial issues. To help with this, I’m interesting in developing a weekly “Campus Development Report” I hope the Collegian would publish. Existing committees would send information for the report to a new, central AWSU committee, which would compile and forward the information to the Collegian.

Q. What’s another goal?
A. I want to increase our engagement in our surrounding community. I had a chat about this with the director of SKCE, and we discussed having a committee, probably student run, that could reach out to students directly in their classes. So if an organization wants a specific type of person to help, we would actually present the request in a relevant class.

Q. Tell me some things people might not know about you.
A. I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’m involved in Debate Club, but I’m a pretty quiet guy. I prefer to listen.

Q. Is there anything else people should know about you or the demands of your position?
A. People probably think I can get a lot of things done on my own, but I don’t have that power or authority, really. To follow through, I need the help of the student body while I’m in this position.