Elected in spring 2018, Jennifer “Jenny” Greenberg became the seventh female ever to hold the Associated Students Inc. (ASI) President position. Majoring in sociology with an emphasis in criminology, Jenny is en route to graduate in spring 2019.
Her goal is to work with prison rehabilitation but getting involved with ASI has sparked an interest in public policy. Jenny’s student leadership journey began her freshman year as a member of the inter-hall council at the Montecito residence hall. The following year she was elected as an executive board member on that same council and worked closely with previous ASI President Farris Hamza, who encouraged her to get involved with ASI. She was selected as secretary of internal affairs in her junior year.
During that time, fellow board members and colleagues told her she was the best fit for the job of ASI President.
Two hundred signatures and 825 votes later, Jenny is the ASI President for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Here is a look inside the life of your ASI President.
1. Did you ever do anything student government related in high school?
Not really, I was in a few clubs in high school and I was the uniform manager for my marching band. I took care of about 250 uniforms, managed the entire space and the process of check out and return. It was more like managing supplies rather than people, so that was my only leadership stuff from before. It wasn’t until college when people said ‘we think you’re a good leader.’
2. What was the campaign process like?
Myself and my vice president, Pasindu [Senaratne] were running together. Instead of having flyers that we would pass out we went to talk to groups on campus. We met with them, gave our speeches and asked for our endorsement. It was a lot of pushing my comfort zone. I don’t like approaching strangers too much. I’m always afraid I’m going to bother someone. I’m a little bit of a homebody. I like to stay in my bubble. In the future we are really trying to push a campaign season to increase voter turnout.
3. What is your normal school day like?
I have class on Tuesday and Thursdays in the mornings and one Tuesday night. Literally every other day, I’ll be in this office or at different parts of campus going to meet with different people. If I have free time, I’ll try to spend it in different places on campus just to see what is going on there. Occasionally, I’ll jump on the Bronco Shuttle to see where it takes me, how many people are using this resource. I overhear students’ conversations about situations on campus and bring it up to administration. I like the fact that my daytime is open so that I can meet with different people, but I could also go around campus and pay attention to what is happening and what students are saying.
4. What do you oversee?
There are two heads to ASI. I am more of government side and the executive director, Dr. Liz Roosa Millar, oversees day-to-day activities, employment and hiring in the BSC and the BRIC. A lot of projects, like the creation of the ASI Planner and the new paint job in the ASI office are organized separately and have other employees working on it and it gets run by me for my input. I also sit on the board of directors on the California State Student Association (CSSA), which is essentially a student government of leaders from every CSU. I meet regularly with President Coley. I connect heads of departments and student leaders so that they could work together on different projects. It’s a lot of listening to what student organizations want and then taking it to administration and asking, ‘all right, how can we find a solution for this?’
5. What are your goals for ASI? How do you plan to accomplish them?
Our policy agenda had five main points. One was related to how we function as an internal organization. We have four of our big goals for helping students outside of ASI. The first one is something we’ve been really passionate about and working towards a lot this year, so I have to give a shout-out to our governmental affairs committee for helping students stay civically engaged and knowledgeable about what is going on in the current elections. We’re hoping if people could get excited about elections for our country especially with midterms coming up, they will get excited about our ASI elections.
Another goal is “campus presence.” If we want students to be engaged we have to be where they are, so we can’t just stay in the BSC or BRIC anymore. Sustainability is another goal. Pretty soon the BSC has to be renovated so we really want to make sure that we are starting the discussion now on how we want to improve our sustainable efforts. Sustainable transportation is another goal. The university is trying to partner with Foothill Transit so that people would take transit rather than their own individual cars which would help with the parking issue and would also help with pollution in general.
The last thing we are focusing on is the basic needs of students. It’s been getting pushed back but two administrations ago there was a resolution for ASI to host a food pantry, so that is our main contribution that we’re working towards this year, making sure that food pantry gets started this year but it’s also making sure that we’re working with the Basic Needs Task Force and the new Bronco Cares Network to make sure that ASI is fully supporting the basic needs initiative. Many of our students are struggling to meet food or housing needs. We need to make sure the students’ voices are heard. I’m in the BRIC sometimes at midnight for my club practice and I see the same person sleeping on the couch every day. It’s making sure that I take back those experiences to the university officials who aren’t seeing the student experience like that and making sure that they are aware of what those issues are.
6. What’s ASI’s budget and where does the money go?
The way the budget process works for all of ASI, the previous year approves the budget for the next year. Our student government budget is a much smaller amount. A large portion goes towards operation of facilities. Another large portion goes towards our clubs. Most of our budget is administrative and goes towards office supplies and then a lot of it goes towards travel. We don’t have as much money as people think we do because most of it goes towards running our buildings and paying our employees.
7. Where does the money come from exactly?
It’s all a student fee. There are two student fees that come from ASI. One is labeled the BSC fee. It is the fee that pays for the facilities and operations of everything.
The other fee is the one that goes towards paying for student clubs like the programs and then a little bit of it goes towards student government. If we need to we have different reserve accounts to support specific groups, for example, TGIF, The Green Initiative Fund. If we didn’t budget for it then we can’t do it. We can’t take donations because we are a charitable organization. The University can accept donations and then give the money to ASI.
8. What is it like balancing ASI with school and day-to-day items?
I won’t lie it’s a struggle. I still enjoy doing it. It’s really easy because I live so close to campus. I could wake up and walk over to class or wake up and go to a meeting. I’m lucky that I’m graduating this year and I could’ve graduated in three years so I’m actually not taking that many classes this year. They are some of my hardest classes, granted. I try to remind all our student leaders that you’re called a student leader and the word “student” comes first so you’re a student first. Managing my time is one of the main challenges.
9. What is it like being a female in office?
I feel very proud of it. I’ll straight up say it; I’ve faced sexism this year. I’ve had someone outright ask, ‘They voted a woman as president?’ when I introduced myself and I was like we most certainly did. I haven’t noticed it as much in my life as I have this year and it has affected me. It’s made me angry. It’s made me frustrated. It’s made me sad at times. But it’s also been a driving force. I shouldn’t be judged on this fact. It’s been kind of a rude awakening. I’ve almost become blind to it sometimes.
10. What are some perks of being ASI president?
Professors have called on me in class to give my view as president. We have this office space in the BSC so a place to work in. We receive priority registration. We still have to pay for our parking pass, but we get to have a staff/faculty parking pass instead of a student parking pass. Every ASI position is eligible for a scholarship as well. They are different depending on the position, but they must meet the GPA requirement and be enrolled in a minimum of six units.
11. How do you feel about semesters?
It’s frustrating because it’s change. I do think in the long run it’s a good idea but it’s going to suck for everyone going through it. I do like the shorter class times. I can’t sit still for too long. I do like having shorter classes because that allows for more time in the day.
12. You said you’re in the rock-climbing club?
Yes, so I also get to go on trips with them. I really like going on trips like that — for one thing there’s no cell service. I can’t be contacted.
I can’t do anything besides sit in that hammock and enjoy myself. My club is my friends. It’s my community and that’s how I release stress.
Nov. 6, 2018, 5:40 p.m.: This article was updated to correct Greenberg’s graduation year.
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