Active Citizenship by Dominic Treseler

Dominic Treseler is the A.S. Director of Legislative Affairs. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Dominic shares his story on Active Citizenship, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

Finding Your Reason

First off, I want to thank and congratulate everyone who voted in the recent midterm election. I was doing a lot of tabling trying to get people to vote in these elections. Something I often got asked by my friends and fellow students was “Why should I vote?” I totally get this. Oftentimes, we feel so disconnected from the process and think that our opinions and vote don’t matter that much. I’m not going to tell you it’s your “duty as a citizen” or that you can make a change on your own because I know you’re probably tired of hearing that. I do want to give you a few things to think about that you may not have thought of before when it comes to the power of your vote. 

Politicians See Who Votes

While nobody knows how you voted on a particular topic, the information of who voted, a person’s name, age, and address is all something that is publicly available. Candidates for office use this information to decide which groups are the most important to cater to, because appeasing them is the only thing that matters in maintaining their power. No matter what community you are a part of, its influence in the political realm is directly tied to how they and how many vote, especially if they cannot influence these figures financially as wealthier people can. 

To give an example that I’m sure we are all aware of, over the past several decades as students stopped voting, tuition started going up. This is in part because our representatives do not see a value in allocating a budget to our education. If we showed politicians that we really matter to their success in office, they will think twice when they decide to ignore allocating budget to things our university is severely lacking, like renovating our old buildings, providing robust health and basic needs services, and the overall cost of tuition. 

Voting for Those Who Can’t

You don’t owe your vote to anybody but yourself but if you know someone who lives here but does not have the ability to vote, you may want to think about what that means to them. They have no real influence when it comes to how their communities are shaped and protected. For the same reason politicians ignore those who don’t vote, they especially ignore those who cannot vote. Undocumented people, Greencard holders, and people under the age of 18 are examples of some of the individuals that are heavily invested in issues that threaten their existence like education, basic needs, and the immigration process, yet cannot cast a vote. As they have no direct influence in choosing their leadership, they are very often ignored which has played a huge part in how large these issues have become. 

Your Voice Does Matter 

Okay I promised I wouldn’t do this one but I have something I think is important to say. Some of the most important elections that affect your life the most are the ones where your singular vote and your voice can have the most impact. The San Jose mayor’s race was decided by around 5,000 votes, this means that it wouldn’t have taken our entire student population of over 35,000 students to shift the result of that election. In our city council election for District 3, the one SJSU is in, the total voting population was 9,203 voters. If everyone that lived in campus housing voted, that would have made us the most important voting population in the whole election. Instead the candidates held only one event here because they saw so little value in the support of the student population. The Santa Clara Mayor’s race was decided by about 150 votes. I am willing to bet most of you have at least that many people you’re connected with on social media. I understand these are not all perfect examples; not all students that go to our university can vote and all your instagram followers don’t live in Santa Clara. I just want to express how large of an impact you and your voice can really have if you choose to exercise it. 

In the End…

Something I learned from trying to remind students to vote these last few weeks is that it doesn’t work. Me trying to make people feel bad for not voting makes them want to vote less because I am taking something they already don’t care about and making it feel like a chore. Motivation for voting has to come from the self, not from me nor anyone else telling you that you should. I hope that in the future, you cast your vote for your community, your loved ones, and most importantly, for yourself. 

Self-Awareness and Life Long Learning by Kai Rapanot

Kai Rapanot is the A.S. Vice President. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Kai shares his story on Self-Awareness and Life Long Learning, two of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

​It’s a tall task to go out on a limb and write a blog post for an audience with the magnitude that a university campus provides; hard enough that I am in a position that can pique the general population’s curiosity in what I have to say. Yet regardless of it, we push forward; we do the things we are asked to do; we are expected to see it as a courtesy, as a sign of respect that we can meet the expectations that others place on us.

​The oft-quoted line “heavy is the head that wears the crown” is interesting to me, because in a modern society that colloquially calls themselves “Kings and Queens” do we now not all bear the crown of responsibility? It’s no wonder this generation has back problems. We have to carry the weight of our own aspirations, while shackled by the weight of living life for past generations and/or setting up for future ones.

​People always ask how I managed to become what I’ve become, as if following every minute detail of my life would ensure success in theirs. I am not a worthy enough person to mimic, nor are my accomplishments a doctrine of success. We treat success and moreover successful people as a pedestal of life. My titles and organizations are good for a resume. It lends me the credibility to stand before a group and take charge, but what good does it do for my character other than to pervert it in some vainglorious attempt to reach the pinnacle of success?

​I am aware that a title can make a person nowadays. Some seek a piece of paper that deems us valid enough to warrant a second glance in the eyes of employers and god-willing larger corporations. We have transcended past the need to be a good person, and to teach those around us the ability to be generous, respectful, and kind. We are instead flooded with ways to be alpha, to be perfect, to be fake.

​I often stare at a picture of myself from the 5th Grade, and I wonder if I truly have become someone that he would look up to; if I have achieved this whimsical ideal of success in his eyes. I think a lot of us do similar things. My hesitations with success are not because I do not seek financial freedom for my parents, it’s not because I don’t understand the steps it took for my ancestors to supplant themselves in a foreign land. My hesitations are bred off the back of my life-long commitment to be authentic to myself.

​Authenticity means that you should strive to be substantial enough that your shadow doesn’t regret following you. But that doesn’t mean you have to have fancy titles or give grand gestures to be substantial. The people we claim to be in our memoirs will always be overshadowed by the characters we play in other people’s narratives. This is self-awareness, to understand what is expected of you, to understand that in life there will be many boxes attempting to mold you, some of them good, some of them bad. But nevertheless, you act according to you.

​I always chuckle at the fact that some of the most revered quotes in the modern era come from fictional sources. In that same vein, I believe that it was Master Oogway that said, “One often meets their destiny, on the roads they take to avoid it.” So maybe sooner, maybe later, we all eventually will come to the crossroads of deciding who we are going to be, and that’s a decision that we have to make. Whether we choose to be the next someone else or be the first of our own kind.

Latino in the 21st Century By Antonio Maldonado

Antonio Maldonado is the A.S. Controller. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Antonio shares his story on Advocacy, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

During the weekdays, I wear the title of CFO for Associated students and President of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. However on weekends, I am a street taquero! This is a common trend that happens amongst many first-generation students. As a first-generation hispanic student, I have to figure out my life while helping my parents prosper.  

The Right Mindset as a First-Generation Student
Being the child of an immigrant means that we must learn two cultures our whole life. Many see this as a weakness and say “I don’t fit in with either my homeland or America’” This is the WORST way to see yourself as a child of immigrant parents. You need to see yourself as a bridge between your cultures with your personal combination of skills.

Starting From the Bottom
When neither of your parents finished high school, school is not their primary source of survival. They tell you to stay in school yet they cannot help you in any way, even if they tried. You are basically on your own throughout your whole academic journey. We learn the language and culture of America by ourselves and compete with other students whose parents have gone to college and supported them all the way through. We have to learn so much more to be in the same classroom as someone who hasn’t experienced what we have gone through, and we really underestimate that. Our starting points are way lower yet we find ourselves in the same place as those who had support. 

Latino in Silicon Valley
Hispanics will one day represent a large majority of the population in America, yet we find ourselves underrepresented in Silicon Valley. That is where we come into the picture. We need to serve as bridges between those who run the large companies in the USA and our growing culture. Whether you specialize in arts, finance or sciences, each professional aspect is an opportunity to create value for Silicon Valley and our Hispanic culture. 

Applying this Mindset
Throughout high school, I worked multiple jobs and helped my father build his street taco business. The things I learned in that process are the skills I used to get into Apple finance and my leadership roles that I currently hold, including Associated Students. Recruiters in big tech companies are starting to realize that the work ethic of a first-generation student is unmatched because we never had a choice. Not only is our hard work unmatched but so is our loyalty since we recognize the magnitude of working for a large tech company. Right now is the perfect time to insert yourself in those domains and with this mindset, you will realize that you started from a lower point yet you are reaching the highest altitudes. What can possibly stop you now?

Self-Awareness by Kingson Leung

Kingson Leung is the Associate Director, Marketing and Programs at Associated Students.  In this latest and final Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Kingson shares his story on Self-Awareness, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung

In the busyness of the day-to-day as a member of this beautiful San Jose State community, have you ever taken a quick moment to stop to ask yourself a simple question like, “Who am I?” 

The question in itself is broad and perhaps may elicit a greater reflection of the various experiences, identities, relationships, roles, positions, jobs, volunteerism, course of study, etc. that make up who you are and what you mean to the Spartan Community. As we near commencement season – whether you are early in your academic journey, close to graduation or reading this at any time in between – it is always an opportune time to reflect on who you are, how much you’ve grown and in what ways you can make the most of your experience before you graduate. 

The value of “self-awareness” held by Associated Students (A.S.) is deeply rooted and aligned with the concluding excerpt in our Mission Statement, i.e., “to prepare students as they move towards a thoughtful and purposeful life after graduation.”  

“What We Know Is a Drop, What We Don’t Know Is an Ocean”

Constantly in my higher education experience, I am reminded “You don’t know what you don’t know…” which holds true when I was an undergraduate student and even many years later as a staff and faculty member. In a learning environment where we are constantly striving to continuously improve and evolve our knowledge, skills, and abilities, new doors open as we gain higher levels of awareness. 

It has long been studied and postulated that students who are most involved with campus activities will become more successful academically and feel connected with higher levels of self-efficacy and belonging. (Source: A.W. Astin., Student Involvement Theory, 1984). If you are made aware that involving yourself at various levels consistently would help you through college, would you take the chance to be more involved? We sure hope so and are here for it! 

How does the A.S. cultivate and live out the value of “self-awareness” in what we do? Three main ways you can connect with A.S. are working with us, volunteering with us and engaging with us as part of our programs and services. 

  • When you work as a student assistant in one of our many departments as a part of A.S. such as Marketing, Transportation Solutions or Child Development Center, we invest in your development to practice transferable skill sets that can be used in your course of study and/or professional life. 
  • If you volunteer in one of our varied programs such as the Community Garden or as a student-at-large in an A.S. Committee, you get to intentionally work in teams that strengthen your personal leadership skills to develop your own voice in serving for a greater purpose. 
  • Lastly, if you’ve utilized services or attended events we offer such as the use of Clipper Cards, printing from our Print & Technology Center, or engaging  events like Fire on the Fountain, all of these programs are specifically designed to support and enhance student social and academic needs. 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

With the gained awareness of just a glimpse of our resources, is there anything keeping you from taking advantage of what Associated Students offers? If your response to this question has any form of self-talk that starts with “I can’t ____ (fill in the blank),” change the beginning of that sentence to “How can I _____ (fill in the blank)”. Your future alumni-self will thank you for shifting your thinking into a possibility mindset. 

As you go about filling the unwritten pages of your story, keep expanding on your many campus experiences. Doing so will not necessarily change who you are but rather allow you to be more yourself. Just that now you will have more awareness, tools and stories to share. Applying yourself will push you to grow and be more prepared and developed for a meaningful life after you graduate from SJSU. By then, when you stop and reflect again on the question of “Who am I?”… it is our hope that your self-awareness would have brought you to a place where you are proud of not only your accomplishments but also the journey and process you’ve taken to get there. 

Inclusion and Openness by Nina Chuang

Embracing My Inner Tigress Through Associated Students
by Nina Chuang, A.S. Vice President

One of my favorite activities is getting hot pot. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to gather our community — friends and/or family — to share a meal, spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. Being a huge lover of food, it was a no-brainer that I chose, in my first year, to go into Nutrition and Food Science. I loved attending classes to learn about the biology and chemical makeup of the food we eat. 

However, there was a missing piece in my college experience: There wasn’t what felt like a home for me on campus! As a commuter student, I would wake up at 5am to take the 181 VTA bus from Fremont to San Jose. From the moment I step foot off the bus, I walk to the MLK, Jr. library. I would study for a while, attend class, and go back to my usual spot on the 4th floor of the library. By the time the evening hit, I would attend Spartan Wushu club training to reignite my passion for Chinese martial arts. 

And it remained the same routine: library, class, library, class, library, Wushu. Then it was time to leave campus to take the last bus back to Fremont, hoping for a smooth ride without any complications. 

My Stripes and Identity
My parents immigrated to the United States to pursue higher education. I am Taiwanese and Malaysian American. Being from a mixed East and Southeast Asian background, I grew up going to Chinese school on Saturdays, and large family gatherings on Sundays. I had the privilege of being raised in an area filled with diverse backgrounds and in a community that prioritized exposure and knowledge about one’s culture. 

In this Chinese New Year of the Tiger, I can’t help but think of my tiger stripes. My stripes are steaming bowls of curry and Laksa on my Malaysian side, and delicious oyster noodles and braised beef on my Taiwanese side. The patterns of these stripes include making paper lanterns and eating Mooncake during the mid-Autumn festival, to wearing Qipao and Nyonya dresses during Chinese New Year and multicultural festivals in school and other places.

My tiger stripes include struggling to speak another language to family across the globe, in my broken ABC (American Born Chinese) Mandarin. My tiger stripes are my Taiwanese grandparents who grew up in the midst of a war and struggled through their education. My tiger stripes are my grandmother, who advocated for the right to education for Chinese Malaysian children. 

My tiger stripes taught me the importance of knowing my heritage and representation. They make up my striped coat of experiences, memories, nuances, and stories.

Inclusion & Openness
Joining Associated Students, SJSU, has helped shape me to use my stripes to advocate for inclusion and openness. 

I joined the A.S. Academic Affairs committee my sophomore year as the College Representative for the College of Health and Human Sciences. Through this committee, I learned the importance of having a seat at the table. I brought my perspective as a CHHS student in the discussions about advising, programs, and student success. 

This committee role motivated me to run on the A.S. Board of Directors and subsequently serve as the Director of Student Resource Affairs in 2020-2021. I then had the privilege of speaking with a variety of liaisons and campus partners about student resources and academic success. In addition, I served on the Academic Senate that same year, working with faculty, staff, and administration to represent the student voice in shared governance. 

Currently, as A.S. Vice President, I continue to serve on the Academic Senate, chair the biweekly A.S. Board of Director meetings, and help the Board work together at in-service events and training. 

Breaking the Silence
Through these experiences, I grew empowered to speak up about global and local issues in the community. In the past two years, the violence against Asian communities has risen to shocking and heart-breaking levels. 

From March 2020 to February 2021, there have been 3,795 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents. But this is not the beginning of the history of anti-Asian hate in America. It started from the Chinese Massacre of 1871, Chinese Exclusion Act, the Watsonville Riots of 1930, Executive Order 9066, to the violence and hate against South Asian Communities after 9/11. Our SJSU history was involved in Executive Order 9066, where the Uchida Hall Boys Gym in the early 1940s served as a processing center for Japanese Americans before they were forced into internment camps.

In 2021, after continually hearing devastating news about the violence against members of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi/American (APID/A) community, I had the privilege to use my platform in A.S. to elevate the efforts surrounding APID/A Spartans. 

With event planning, professional and leadership skills put to work, I have collaborated with various groups on campus to host events that represent and advocate for Asian communities in these dark times.

I helped organizations plan Meet & Greet events, rally on campus, write letters of support addressing healthcare disparities, and meet with folks across campus to discuss APID/A Student Success. 

Together, with your support, after more than 20 years of advocacy from the SJSU community, we were finally able to foster an additional Student Success Center for the Asian Pacific Islander Desi/ American community.

Thanks to your support, we were able to stage the APID/A community Lunar Year Welcome with Lion Dancing on 7th Street and pass a Letter of Support for the Lunar New Year Day Act, which would federally establish Lunar New Year as a Federal holiday. I also had the amazing privilege to introduce Shang-Chi actor Simu Liu and Assembly member Evan Low in our Fall 2021 Spartan Speaker Series. I also have the extreme honor of being your 2021 Homecoming Royalty and Queen (you know I had the rep the Qipao).

Home at Associated Students, SJSU
Associated Students is a place where all backgrounds and cultures are welcome. We empower one another to advocate for our communities, for accessibility, and for ourselves. These experiences taught me the power in inclusivity and having an open mind. Openness leads to connecting with people with different experiences and new ideas. Without openness, it can be difficult to see where inclusivity is needed.  Everyone must be given a seat at the table to carry out the Associated Students’ Mission: to support and represent the students of San José State University by continuing the organization’s legacy of student advocacy and leadership; to enhance SJSU students’ education through high quality programs and services; and to prepare students as they move towards a thoughtful and purposeful life after graduation.

I was empowered through the skills I gained through A.S. and the leaders around me to give myself a seat at the table. As the first African-American Congresswoman Shirley Chrisholm said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”. 

I encourage you as we grow as leaders in our communities, to have the openness to include and bring that folding chair to the table, excuse yourself or share your seat to uplift others’ voices or bring your own when you see a missing seat at the table. 

My favorite seat is the Asian folding stool though. Which seat is yours?

P.S.: I wanted to give a shout out to the amazing ladies I have the privilege of working alongside in the A.S. Executive Team! Anoop Kaur, A.S. President and Maritza Molina, A.S. Controller: You inspire me everyday to keep learning and growing. <3