SHOOTING THE SHIT WITH NEXT YEAR'S ASI PRESIDENT AND VP
Photo by Laura Kaiser
Last month, John Haberstroh and Jon Bolin shook the foundation of Associated Students, Incorporated by winning control of the executive branch. Their memorable campaign and invigorating ideas stirred something in the heart of our complacent commuter campus, and more students came out to vote in this election than ever before in the history of ASI. This week, the Union sat down with our new president and vice president to learn more about who they are, where they’re going, and what the hell they’re doing here in the first place.
John Haberstroh: We decided to run because we thought we could do a good job in terms of leading the school. We’ve seen what past ASI administrations have done, and we think there’s a lot of room for improvement. So we’re kind of motivated on the fact that we can do better.
Jon Bolin: What ASI should represent is the students, you know? I think there’s been a lot of detachment from the students and ASI. I want to bring it back where we’re not only representing the 50 students, the senators and all of them, but we’re also representing the 36,000 students who go to school, who pay the tuition, who pay the ASI fees. They should all be represented. If one person has a good idea, I’m all about it. Even if it’s something I don’t think personally should happen, if the majority of the students want it, I’m all about doing it. We’re here to serve the students, we’re not here to make up our own ideas and then implement them. And you know, in the past, I think that idea has been a little warped. It’s not hard to listen, I think it’s harder not to listen. The main thing we want to do is go around and check in with everybody. It would be impossible for the people in ASI to come up with all of the ideas, because every student has at least one idea of what they think could improve on campus, and I think that’s a major resource that we need to tap into.
Union Weekly: How did you guys meet?
JH: We actually took a study abroad class together two winters ago to Greece.
JB: And we’ve been in love ever since!
JH: Yeah, basically. So yeah, we traveled the world, we went to Italy together this last winter with another class. This winter we’re going to Morocco, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel, Turkey… It’s gonna be great. They haven’t finalized yet, but those are on the front burner.
JB: We’ve already been to Turkey together, but we want to go back. It’s such a cool place.
JH: Turkey is my favorite country.
JB: We want to do inner Turkey. Like Cappadocia, which is like rural Turkey. It’ll actually be snowing in this one place but there are hot springs, like Icelandic hot springs with powdery blue water. It’ll be amazing.
JH Like a hot tub surrounded with ice cubes.
UW: I feel like the traveling is a big thing though, because the past ASI administration feels so confined. It’s like they’ve never left Cal State Long Beach, like they were born here, and they grew up in the student union, and they’ve never left the fucking campus.
JB: Well, in a way they never have. I mean, there’s a lot of backlash against John and I being elected, because when you’re a freshman you go into BeachTeam, which is a great organization, but then you get up there and you’re a senator. Much like modern politics, you know, you’re a senator, and then you get Chief of Staff, and then you’re Vice President, so you might be President the next year. We broke their mold. We’re both not Greek, and we’re both not ASI.
UW: Even if there’s backlash, I think that’s also exactly why you were elected, no?
JB: Oh, one hundred percent. We had the biggest turnout by far. Fourteen percent of the student body voted, the election crushed the records. Voter turn out has never been that high before, and I think that’s a big reason. When different people run, you’re gonna get different people to vote. We’re both just super excited to represent the students. People keep saying, “You guys don’t have ASI experience, blah blah blah,” and honestly that will all come in time. If you have the skills to lead, you’re going to be able to lead, regardless of what experience you need. It’s not complicated to go out there and ask what the students want and bring it back to the senate, back to ASI, and internalize it, and produce a result. I don’t think there’s going to be a problem. We’re going to be working this summer, 40 hours a week, to make sure that the first day of school, everything we promised in our campaign has come to fruitation.
UW: I like fruitation better.
JB: Fruitation because of fruits. You plant a tree, it grows up, you wait for it, your ideas are this tree, and then it fruitates. Fruitation. So our ideas are going to come to fruitation—
JB: And they’re going to be sweet just like the oranges on the tree. By the time the first day of school comes we can hit the ground running, so that a year from now, in April, we’re not going, “Well, we promised this one thing, so we need to make sure this is still gonna happen, agh.” By the first day of school we get all that out of the way, and these are all in place and all going to happen, and now we can start taking the students’ ideas and implementing them into real things that can happen.
UW: So what things are you starting to work on over the summer?
JH: Well the first thing we’re going to do is get our scholarship idea hammered out.
UW: Can you explain the details of that?
JH: Yeah, well, we’re going to take a 30% pay cut, and that’s going to generate about $1,000 a month between the both of us that we’re going to give as student scholarships. Each month we’ll have a different theme. We’re actually going to mix up the amounts as well.
JB: So every month is a completely different thing. September and January, that’s when you have new classes, so that’s when you need textbooks. Bam, we have ten $100 textbook scholarships. Later down the line, we’ll have the Beach Pride Scholarship, which will be an essay on why you love Cal State Long Beach and what have you done to show your pride. Anyone can win that one. You just have to show your Long Beach pride in a creative way, through an essay, or project, or film yourself doing something cool. And then there’s academic excellence. We’re really trying to hit every single group, so no matter who you are on campus, if you want to be awarded a scholarship, it’s not going to be a problem. We’re not just targeting one group… We’re actually going to have a little money to play with, because for the three months of Summer we’re not giving away scholarships, but we’re still taking the pay cuts. So by the time school starts, we’ll have a $3000 pool to work with. By the end of May 2013, next year, our scholarship money will be 100% given to the students. We’re not going to be choosing the winners, because that obviously can get into some interesting situations. Not that we would do that, but some people could accuse us of that. So we’re giving it to a whole committee, that we’re not going to be on, not going to sit on, and they’re going to award the scholarships. These campaign promises are coming through, and this one’s like 99% there.
Another thing is the Nugget weekly town hall meetings. I’ll just lay those out right now. What we plan to do is, students who are interested in ASI, or where ASI is going, we’ll have weekly town hall meetings in the Nugget… it’s an informal forum for the students to come in, if they’re of age they can have a beer, if not then a soda, or eat a sandwich, or whatever. We got harped on by someone, who said like, “What if they don’t want to drink beer in the Nugget?!” Like, cool, get a soda, but people can drink beer in the Nugget. People are so crazy about that kind of stuff.
JH: They’re quick to judge.
JB: Right. Anyway, so we’ll pretty much lay out what happened that week in senate, go over it in simple terms. Just like here’s what we did, here’s what we’re gonna do, here was the vote count. If you think it should go through, here are your senators, if you don’t think it should go through, lobby to your senators. I think that’s a huge thing. I think the students need to start lobbying to their senators. If you want something done, lobby to your senate. So yeah, once a week, pretty much, and that’s time for them to give feedback to us. This is a chance that if you have a great idea and you want to see it happen, boom. Tell us here, I’ll bring it up in senate, I’ll write a bill for you, and your name will be on it, representing you. Then I’ll report back next week with what happened, are we in the second reading, did it get shot down, does it need an amendment, are you okay with that? So really a chance for people to become involved with ASI, and they don’t have to be really involved with a time commitment. Just show up, drink a beer with me, tell me what’s going on, tell me what I’m doing wrong, tell me what I’m doing right, give me some ideas, let’s do this.
JH: Really relaxed, really informal.
JB: We’re formal, but we’re not ASI formal. We’re different type personalities than most people in there. Another thing for us is ASI visibility. I think it’s a shame that literally 50 or 60 people are involved in ASI, and there’s only 50 or 60 people deciding what we do. In the perfect world, we should have 36,000 people. We should have too many emails coming in with ideas. It shouldn’t be like, “well let’s just do the same thing…”
JH: Another empty inbox…
JB: I think how we went about our campaign is a different way to do things, and I think that’s going to show through this year. We definitely have some different ideas on how to get out ideas for scholarships. For instance, ASI gives away scholarships as well, but if the deadline for the scholarship is April 9, they throw up the posters on April 8. It’s like, people have lives. They have work, they have school, they have extra-curricular activities, you don’t have time to just drop everything and write up an application. You need two to three weeks at the least in advance to know when scholarships are due. We want to make our scholarships so that if you want to apply for something but you miss it for fall semester, we’ll just throw you in for Spring semester of the same one. There’s a deadline, but it’s not like you can never get it. Let’s work with you and see if there’s something else we can get you on.
UW: And people will hear about them first semester, too, and know to apply for second semester.
JH: Right. Hopefully they hear about it the first day of school though, because once school starts, boom, scholarship filing period is open. That’s how we want it to be.
JB: That’s another thing too. Technically, to be the vice president, I have to put in 25 hours a week. Oh, I’m gonna blow that out of the water.
JH: It’s not a contest.
JB: Well, I’m just saying though, from what I want to personally do, it’s going to take a lot of time and work. But why is it so unheard of for the president or vice president to be out there firing to the students? Or how we campaigned, just a poster board that says, “Hey! We’re giving away free money!” You know, so it’s funny, it’s not serious.
JH: Just come and get it.
JB: Yeah, just come and get our money. It’s just talking to people, going to the USU on a busy day and standing on a chair and going, “We’re giving away money!” Just different things. The whole thing is shock value. You need to shock people into listening, because if they pass by a sign, a lot of people are passive. But you need to be like, “What are you doing?!” You need to shake them, and make them realize that they can do it. That’s a big thing about ASI right now. If you want to find out anything about ASI, and I don’t know if this is purposeful, I don’t want to say it’s purposeful, John doesn’t like my conspiracy ideas, and I’m not saying ASI has a conspiracy…
UW: No, but they do! I totally know what you mean. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
JB: I’m just saying, I don’t know if they truly want students to get involved in their organization. They want to keep it to the clique.
JH: Because it means more work for them.
JB: Some people are extremely uncomfortable that we’re coming in. I’ve heard rumors that there’s already a recall petition coming out, so that should be interesting on the first day of school.
JH: But we don’t worry about rumors, because rumors are a joke.
JB: Exactly. But let’s make ASI more visible. We’re going to have a weekly talk show on KBeach where we play music, just crazy music from all spectrums, like classical music to death metal, anywhere in the spectrum. Like honky tonk country, I love that kind of stuff. Etta James, John and I are in a band together, so we’ll probably get that on there a couple times. We could have a monthly update in the Union from the ASI execs. We’re trying to make ASI visible on all fronts. It’s as simple as just sitting down for KBeach for one hour, because both of us love music. That’s not a hard thing, I won’t even log that on my hours. Typing something for the Union, I’m all about it. We want to get out to the press. So if we do something cool, we’re going to tell the Union about it, because people should know about the cool things that ASI does. There’s a lot of cool things that they do, but I just don’t think that they care, because it’s just for their little group. It’s like “Cool, we’re putting on this event so we can all go, and hopefully nobody else shows up so it’s not awkward.”
JH: “Hopefully we won’t have to actually talk to anyone.”
JB: But it’s like, “No, I want to talk to everybody.” It’s as simple as just getting out and talking to people, and being personable, not hiding in your castle that you get paid to hide in. So I don’t know what the question was, but uh…
JH: What were the things that we want to do in the summer.
JB: Oh right. So yeah, Nugget town hall, scholarships… right now we’re working on the parking ticket idea.
JH: Yeah, the parking ticket one is kind of complicated.
UW: I’ve heard, can you walk us through that a little bit?
JH: Yeah, so the main idea of it was that if you got a parking ticket, and the Daily 49er misquoted us, they have no idea what they’re talking about, but if you get a parking ticket for not having a parking permit, it costs you $48. But if within seven days you buy the semester-long parking pass for $123, it absolves your parking ticket. If you get caught with your pants down, and you didn’t buy your parking pass, if you want to pay $48 that’s cool, or you have the option of “upgrading” your ticket into a semester-long parking pass, where you’d still have to pay the $123, but you wouldn’t have to pay your parking ticket if you did it within seven days.
UW: That’s an awesome idea.
JB: I thought it was a great idea. The only thing about that is that’s going to be like two weeks straight of just plugging in numbers and calling people, because when you start taking money away from the university, they get pissed. But we have to run a couple tests to see would we lose money, would we gain money, or would we stay neutral? Not everyone buys a parking pass, some people just buy the five-day permits. We have to survey how many people got parking tickets for not having a parking pass in the first month of school. If half of them buy parking passes, would we actually lose money? The main thing about it is that the money from that goes into the U-PASS and shuttle systems, which means these two systems could go nowhere. And I know a lot of people use U-PASS, and I know damn well a lot of people use the shuttles. We don’t want to be the executive team that destroys the U-PASS or shuttle systems. So we’re going to do everything we can to make that idea work, but if it doesn’t, there’s a valid reason on keeping the U-PASS and shuttle system. But I think the idea is still a great idea.
JH: We just have to crunch some numbers.
JB: That’s not ASI, either, that’s Parking Services and Transportation, it’s a different auxiliary, and we don’t oversee it. But we could make things happen. It was a great idea, but we didn’t know how to go about it.
UW: Yeah, I mean when people hear the word “parking,” they’re like, “you can’t do anything about parking.” Have you met our parking people? They’re nuts.
JB: Yeah. Well, people were saying the same thing about the Nugget and the scholarships. They were like “You can’t do that, you have no power!”
JH: We got criticized for everything we wanted to do.
JB: I was like, “ASI built the Rec Center, I’m pretty sure we can give away our money if we want to.” I don’t think anyone’s going to be against us giving away our own money. Unless that makes Brotman Hall look bad.
JH: Or because it makes the current ASI people look bad.
UW: Well you guys did that all semester, your whole campaign was awesome.
JB: Yeah, it’s not a contest, it’s just about whose ideas are better.
JH: But we did run an honest campaign. We campaigned hard. We got a little heat from that, because we fought against the status quo of campaigning.
JB: But that’s the whole thing, we made people uncomfortable… I think before people meet us, they think we’re this radical, socialist, leftist… well, they think we’re here to destroy ASI and bring it down and make it burn.
UW: You’re the Obama/Biden of Cal State Long Beach.
JB: But then they get to know us, and they see that we’re not here to screw around. We’re serious people, but I don’t understand why you can’t be serious and have fun at the same time. We’re both history majors, so we both look into things way too far, but I think from an American standpoint it’s taken on a sense that if you’re going to be serious, you can never smile or laugh or have fun. Work is here, the rest of your life is there. I don’t understand why people can’t have fun doing their jobs. That’s a huge thing in my life, I’m having fun with whatever it is. I’m writing a paper with a smile on my face.
UW: So how is it working out with the people who are in ASI now that maybe weren’t in support of you guys during the campaign?
JB: Honestly, John and I aren’t so prideful to the extent that we’ll think we won’t need any help. We’re going to need a lot of help to get stuff done. That’s part of a team, is that you help each other out. I really think that John and I are going to change stuff up a little bit, but not as radically as everyone thinks. We need their experience as much as they need our energy. We’re going to change ASI not necessarily in bringing it down, but in getting people excited again, to work with the students, to work for the students, to take student concerns and making them tangible things. I’m just really excited, I just want it to be June 1st so we can get started.