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2023 AS President Convocation Speech

"Good morning faculty, staff, administrators and students of Sonoma State University,

My name is Cassandra Garcia and I am honored to be this year's AS President. I will talk about items the Associated Students will be working on this school year, as well as some concerns we have. This summer my team worked hard on things we can improve to support our students and make them feel connected and heard. Two main items that will help address supporting students are our Student Bill of Rights Committee and a new approach to placing students on university committees and task forces.

Last year's AS Senate passed a resolution calling for the creation of a Sonoma State Student Bill of Rights in response to years of complaints from students.

This semester I will be charging a committee to produce a draft of a Student Bill of Rights. At our first Senate Meeting this Monday - we will be discussing how students can join to help create our own Sonoma State Student Bill of Rights.

Our main purpose is to make sure our students' voices are being heard. We are committed to protecting the academic rights of Sonoma State students.

Our mission in Associated Students is to enhance the lives of the students, by ensuring that they have a voice in shared governance and university decisions. We also want to recognize the inclusive approach of our administration, faculty leadership, and staff to the student’s role in shared governance. But the appointment process for students serving on university committees must change.

There are 3,000 less students today than there used to be, but the need for students to serve in the shared governance process is higher than ever. AS will be calling on the university and faculty leadership to work with us to evolve the student involvement in campus shared governance.

One of the things I would like to recognize is the work of our amazing AS Executive Vice President - Angelina Lopez, who has worked extremely hard to ensure that our students will have the opportunity to get involved with shared governance.

AS is committed to doing our part in connecting students into the shared governance process. We are excited about a program we are launching this fall called “Calling all student leaders!” - this program will aim to better accommodate the need of students to sit on University Committees. AS plans to establish a pool of student leaders through nominations and appointments, and we invite all of you to help in identifying amazing students to serve on committees.

My last topic is one I am deeply concerned about- it is the Multi-Year Tuition Increase Proposal. In our first few Associated Students Senate Meetings we will be discussing the formal position of the students of this university in response to the 6% tuition increase scheduled to be voted on at the Sept. 12 CSU Board of Trustees meeting. I would like to touch on a few concerning items on this proposal:

The Multi-Year Tuition proposal states that the 6% annual increase will continue on with no end date in sight. A compounding 6% increase will double the tuition at Sonoma State in 12 years. With this tuition increase proposal, many students will have to face the difficult decision if they will be able to continue their education.

Yes 60% of students will be supported by financial aid, but for how long?

This increase will outpace the pell grant - a grant that covers tuition for many of our most needy students will soon not be able to fully cover tuition in a matter of just a few years.

In the proposal, it stated that students that don’t receive financial aid, but work a minimum wage job will ONLY need to work JUST ONE MORE EXTRA HOUR each week to cover their tuition. But what about their other expenses? Most students don’t just work to pay off their tuition. They have groceries, insurance, utilities, loans, etc... Education should not be a luxury.

The students look forward to your collaboration in efforts to improve their experience and recognition here at Sonoma State. I, as AS President, am also looking forward to collaborating with you all to make sure our students' needs are being met. Thank you everyone and I look forward to a great year."

- AS President, Cassandra Garcia