Who’ll rule the school?
A.S. candidates play politics nicely but promise they’ll fight for students
In what has been a very polite campaign, three students are vying for president of the Associated Students at Chico State University. Voting will take place online and at campus polling places April 16 and 17.
Fay Roepcke, Bob Ray and Michael Dailey will square off for the top position. Four are vying for the position of executive vice president, which officer presides over Governmental Affairs Committee meetings: Tara Lane, Adam Dondro, Nick Miller and Nathan Davis. Election-watchers (yes, they exist) are predicting a runoff for the two top jobs.
Amy Hartman and Lisa Bruestle are running for A.S. vice president of business and finance. Annie Sherman and Christie Slotts will square off for commissioner of environmental affairs, and Karen Tandy and Robert Villarreal Jr. will vie for commissioner of re-entry affairs. In four slots, candidates are running unopposed. A few positions have no candidates, including the important role of A.S. vice president of facilities and services, who serves as the lone student voice in several key university meetings.
Roepcke, a 22-year-old senior, is from the Shasta County town of Palo Cedro. She’s majoring in women’s studies and international relations and next year will begin a graduate program in political science.
Currently A.S. director of legislative affairs, she acknowledges she’s occasionally taken on too much in the past, but carrying only six units next year will allow her to devote much of her time to the presidency, if elected. She calls her platform “advocacy, awareness and accessibility.”
Roepcke has spent many days this semester in Long Beach and Sacramento, advocating for students as an executive board member of the California State Students Association. She’s on a first-name basis with CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, members of the Board of Trustees and various legislators.
She realizes the CSU will need to raise fees, but a 25-percent hike is “not responsible to students” and will price many out of an education. “Next year’s really about survival and trying to keep what we have.”
“I do see myself being able to stand up for students and advocate for students, but not being overly confrontational,” she says. Winning the respect of administrators “is a working process.”
And what about Bob? “I’ve been trying to run for the last two years,” said Ray, a frequent face on campus and at city and South Campus Neighborhood Association meetings. Last year, he was ruled ineligible by Chico State President Manuel Esteban because his first-year graduate student status meant he had no current grade record.
Bob Ray—everyone says his name in total: “BobRay,” rather than “Bob"—has impressed and offended university brass with his progressive politics and passion. The political-science graduate student, who teaches the model United Nations class, doesn’t seem to like being cast as the 30-something candidate. Still, this means the nine-year Chico resident is one of the few students who remembers the 1997 narc-fueled drug bust in Whitney Hall and other important campus events. His perspective and community involvement should draw a lot of votes, likely garnering some of those that otherwise would go to Roepcke, who describes herself as a liberal feminist.
Ray is campaigning heavily on a community outreach platform, going so far as to suggest that the town bring back a spirit-boosting spring festival like Pioneer Days, though without the drunken rioting. “We need a tradition like that one was,” says Ray, who is putting together May’s Celebration of People parade.
He’d like to see a tenants’ bill of rights, more affordable housing and policing that focuses on student safety—whether or not those things are within the scope of a campus presidency. He’s already helped convince the City Council to allocate more money for lighting and other street improvements.
He’ll fight if the university tries to cut the public safety escort service.
“I’m not in favor of raising [A.S.] fees at all, and we don’t have to,” Ray says. His big idea for getting more money for A.S. programs is intriguing: Hire professional grant writers. “It would pay for itself right off the bat.”
Dailey, a hometown boy who moved to Chico at age 9, is considered the most conservative candidate, although how important political leanings are in a student election is up to interpretation. “I really dislike being labeled, because it tends to separate students,” he says. Look for Dailey to rack up a lot of votes, both because he’s a nice guy and because he’s spent the last year as executive vice president, a common stepping stone to the presidency.
However, Dailey promises he’s not too nice to take the administration to task if needed. “I feel no fear at all about standing up for students and their needs,” he says, but, “I’ve never seen screaming work.”
Dailey, 24 and a communications senior, expects next year’s key issue to be the budget and holding the university accountable for students getting classes while avoiding large fee increases. He’s an advocate for A.S. programs, wants to make the A.S. Web site more interactive and desires a safer campus and a better relationship with the city.
The candidates agree on several things: The CSU’s new CMS computer system is sucking money away from education, the school needs to hold off on asking students to pay for even a modest recreation center, and the A.S. should continue the marketing plan devised to get A.S. Food Services out of the red. All three also plan to continue building a positive relationship with the city of Chico and the community in general.
The race has been a very courteous one, with each candidate loath to criticize the others. "I think students would be able to relate to me more so than the other candidates," Roepcke offered. Ray calls himself "a different kind of leader than anybody else. I have serious agendas to get a lot of serious things done."