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Posted 10:56 am
August 28, 2013

ASI, student center merge to synchronize student life

This semester, SF State’s Associated Students, Inc. and Cesar Chavez Student Center are consolidating to become a single enhanced student auxiliary. 

The University’s goal to merge both auxiliaries would build SF State’s identity and give student government a stronger presence and impact on campus, according to a charge produced by the Enhanced Auxiliary Team, a group consisting of students that are leading the merger. 

“This is a rare and incredible opportunity for the two auxiliaries to create a new student government organization,” said Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell. “It will allow for eliminating current duplications of services, strength fiduciary responsibility, streamline information for students and engage more students in student government and student life.”

ASI, is a nonprofit student government auxiliary that encompasses seven campus programs such as the Early Childhood Education Center and Project Connect, to name a few. Students become members of ASI upon paying a $54 fee, which is included in tuition, allowing ASI programs and services to be free for students.

The student center also serves as a nonprofit auxiliary which is led by a student governing board. The student center houses most ASI programs as well as its own student services and programs from restaurant vendors to The Depot and Art Gallery.

Seven student and staff leaders representing both organizations such as ASI President Adenike Hamilton and Cesar Chavez Governing Board Chair Kimberly Vargas make up the Enhanced Auxiliary Team. Last spring the team created six task forces, organized by similar departments form each student auxiliary.

The six task force groups include Business and Finance, Programs and Services, Facilities and Operations, Human Resources and Marketing, Communications and Development.

These groups consist of current student center and ASI employees, board members and students, who meet once a week to collaborate on how their departments can come together through feedback and recommendations.

A major goal of the merge is to consolidate departments that essentially perform the same job.

“One thing that we try to be clear about is that we are taking two separate organizations and making an enhanced organization,” said Peter Koo, the executive director of ASI.

There will be no effect on tuition costs for students in reflection to the organizations’ merge, where there is currently a fee for both ASI and the student center, but will be used more effectively, according to Adenike Hamilton, president of ASI.

Each year, each student pays $82 as a student resource fee and $54 as an ASI fee. The administration said these payments are still necessary to uphold a functional organization. 

The merge has brought up questions of whether certain student programs or services will be cut. Managing Director of the Cesar Chavez Student Center Guy Dalpe said if all goes accordingly, no programs or services will be cut.

“At this stage in the process we have not identified any programs and services as being unnecessary,” said Dalpe.

However, there have been questions and concerns about whether the merge will eliminate employees’ current positions, resulting in the loss of a job.

“While there are similarities between the two organizations, there are also a number of differences,” said former ASI Representative at Large Abel Gomez. “Because of these differences, the structure (of the new combined student auxiliary) remains mysterious. Such ambiguity makes people uncomfortable, I think.”

The Enhanced Auxiliary Team has looked to San Diego State University as a model for their Associated Students organization, where their student center and student government have always existed as one auxiliary.

The University has been working under the guidance of Dan Cornthwaite, ex-executive director of Associated Students at San Diego State University, since early May to assess the merger process. Cornthwaite has met with both organizations to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each. He presented his recommendations to the organizations last May at the ASI and student center governing board annual retreat.

The talk of a merger has been an idea in the SF State community for some time. 

In an ASI meeting held Oct. 2011, the ASI Rules Committee discussed the organization’s five-year plan. The former chair, Jason Zavaleta questioned how ASI would go about merging at the end of the five-year plan.

The overall goal was similar to what the goal is with today’s merger: to have stronger communication and transparency between the student center and ASI.

Both ASI and the student center have already combined fiscally as of July 1. The completed merger of the auxiliaries is expected to take place in February 2014 upon a referendum vote made by SF State students this fall.

“I have been extremely impressed by the passion and commitment the ASI and CCSC student leaders, professional staff,  and student employees have demonstrated throughout this process,” said Greenwell. “They, along with University partners, continue to work diligently to make the vision of an enhanced student auxiliary a reality, further developing the student experience at SF State.”