Incoming student government officials aim to improve campus equity, budget

The+newly+constructed+Student+Services+Building+sits+adjacent+to+Manhattan+Beach+Blvd.+Beginning+Wednesday%2C+July+31%2C+programs+like+Financial+Aid%2C+Special+Resources+and+Counseling+moved+into+the+new+building%2C+providing+different+student+services+all+in+one+place.+Omar+Rashad+%2F+The+Union
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Incoming student government officials aim to improve campus equity, budget

The newly constructed Student Services Building sits adjacent to Manhattan Beach Blvd. Beginning Wednesday, July 31, programs like Financial Aid, Special Resources and Counseling moved into the new building, providing different student services all in one place. Omar Rashad / The Union

The newly constructed Student Services Building sits adjacent to Manhattan Beach Blvd. Beginning Wednesday, July 31, programs like Financial Aid, Special Resources and Counseling moved into the new building, providing different student services all in one place. Omar Rashad / The Union

The newly constructed Student Services Building sits adjacent to Manhattan Beach Blvd. Beginning Wednesday, July 31, programs like Financial Aid, Special Resources and Counseling moved into the new building, providing different student services all in one place. Omar Rashad / The Union

The newly constructed Student Services Building sits adjacent to Manhattan Beach Blvd. Beginning Wednesday, July 31, programs like Financial Aid, Special Resources and Counseling moved into the new building, providing different student services all in one place. Omar Rashad / The Union

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Surrounded by the white hospital walls where she volunteers on her time off from school, El Camino College student Urwa Kainat refreshed her email over and over again, hoping for any results but nothing changed.

That was until she received a call on Thursday, May 30.

It was Andrew Leon-Bercovich, the Associated Student Organization’s (ASO) director of external affairs at EC. He informed Kainat that she had been elected as the new student government president.

“I called my mom and let her know [I won] and it was a really happy moment for me,” Kainat said. “I was already scared that I wouldn’t be able to win the positions [I ran for].”

Kainat won six positions during the 2019 ASO election, including director of public relations and director of human resources, but ultimately chose President.

Kainat said she was met with discouragement from people who did not think she was ready for the challenge.

“I felt discouraged but that wasn’t important because what mattered was what we were trying to advocate for a better El Camino,” Kainat said. “We need to find a way to benefit each and every student.”

Her campaign towards the improvement of campus amenities, including health- and religious-conscious food along with the creation of a meditation room for students was enough for Kainat to receive 48% of the total votes—beating out former Judicial Court Justice Mario Lopez and former Commissioner of Student Resources Esteban Espino.

“I feel we have a really diverse community at EC and for students who are vegan and eat halal meat, you can’t eat something other than vegetarian options,” Kainat said. “It’s inconvenient for students that come from a different background and can’t eat some of the food.”

Lopez, who ran his campaign on program funding, including the Extended Opportunity Program, which helps underprivileged students by providing access to vouchers and counseling, said he believes Kainat has the potential to raise ASO out from the ground and improve campus life.

Equity and inclusiveness

Kainat said she plans to work alongside new ASO Vice President Victoria Aguilar to create a more welcoming environment with access to resources for students, including night students.

“I know people have the capability to stay on campus longer and provide more inclusive activities for night students,” Aguilar said. “[Committees] mention policies for night students but nothing has happened yet, they need attention and they are students just like the rest of us.”

This year, student government elections were held the week of Monday, May 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aguilar said. Another voting period was added from 4 to 6 p.m. in order to give every student the opportunity to vote, she said.

Movie night for Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse was hosted on the EC North Field next to the Bookstore on Thursday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m., in an effort to create more welcoming activities at EC for all students.

But Aguilar said activities like these are not enough as night students expressed concerns over the lack of food options on campus. Other students want the bookstore to be opened a little bit longer, she added.

Events like the Auxiliary Services Board (ASB) Faire, which promotes discounts for students that purchase the biannual $15 ASO sticker and Club Rush, which gives students the opportunity to explore different organizations on campus, occur only during the day.

However, in order to achieve all the goals set forth by the student government this upcoming academic year, more students would need to purchase the ASO sticker, Aguilar said. The proceeds from students purchasing ASO stickers go towards the funding of programs on campus, including EOPS, athletics and The Union newspaper along with several other events.

The budget

This past February, the Board of Trustees voted on BP 5420, which handed over control of $450,000 budget that is made up of sticker sales and is used to govern student activities, to ASO.

But Aguilar said that because ASO sticker sales were not as high this past year, the budget might not be quite as large, meaning some programs may lose money.

“I know, there are cuts within the next year,” Aguilar said. “I don’t mean huge cuts but a certain percentage.”

But in order to improve sales, Aguilar said more students need to be made aware of discounts provided on and off campus by select places, including the McDonald’s across the street, through the ASO sticker.

Aguilar said she is working to implement a new ASO by-law that will require every student government member, with the permission of their professors, to give an in-class presentation regarding the ASO stickers and future events.

Kainat said that ASO is looking to help the community through the ASO stickers and that she is advocating for more benefits that will entice students to purchase it.

“ASO has impacted my life and being in a position where I can impact others and make them feel the same way I do about EC is amazing,” Kainat said.

Kainat added that she is excited and hopeful going into her term and is already trying to accomplish several tasks with the new diverse cabinet.

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