Written by: Michelle Welling, Staff Writer Sonoma State STAR
Header images by: Gustavo Vasquez
Monday marks the next round of Associated Students elections at Sonoma State University. The ballot will be distributed to students via Seawolf emails, and it’s to the benefit of students that this vote takes place. Associated Students elections offer students the opportunity to catalyze change at the university through the candidates they elect. The Associated Students is the official voice of the student body to school administration. The lead representative of this unified voice is the Associated Students president, the role for which two students currently strive for.
The candidates for president of Associated Students this year are third-year economics and environmental studies and planning double-major, Brandon Mercer, and Fresno State University transfer student and psychology major, Nicole Dominique. While Mercer and Dominique have the mutual goal of enriching Sonoma State through their actions, they offer differing skills and strengths.
“Both candidates bring their own unique experience and perspective,” said Elections Commissioner Garett Knight. “I’m also curious as to which candidate students will relate more.”
Mercer, no stranger to student leadership, reached his current candidacy through his role as treasurer of Sauvignon Village Council, summer orientation leader, community service adviser, and most recently, serving on three Associated Students committees: academic senate, campus re-engineering and the graduate initiative group. The third-year, double-major runs on a platform of two main goals: generating greater access to upper-division keystone classes, and creating more student governance on campus. With this experience in student leadership, Mercer believes he opens the door to representing students and communicating their needs.
“I understand one facet of what Sonoma State students go through,” said Mercer. “And I think this opportunity allows me to bring all that together and really focus on the critical points that not many students get to see, but affect them everyday.”
Sharing the ballot with him is Nicole Dominique. Dominique offers the unique perspective of a transfer student, with fresh insight, bringing her experience from Fresno State to Sonoma State. Additionally, her history of public speaking and participation in pageants gives Dominique the strength of communication, an important skill when representing the collective voice students, and, if elected, working with faculty and administrators to achieve student goals. This asset in particular is what Dominique believes makes her a strong candidate.
“One of the main things you have to have in order to be president is communication skills,” said Dominique. “It’s all about being able to, No. 1, communicate and be involved with your peers, and also be able to communicate with people on a [higher] level in order to get those changes made.”
As student government moves closer to the election date, student involvement becomes a recurring topic of conversation—most noticeably so with the absence of candidates running for the position of executive vice president of Associated Students.
“Unfortunately we had multiple candidates in numerous positions drop out the week before campaigning began. Each position is time consuming but more rewarding [than] I believe most students know,” said Knight. “Right now, I’m focusing on what we do have rather than what we don’t. Once the election is over, the missing seats will be addressed. It’s my hope that the election will generate awareness about Associated Students and lead an even more successful elections next Spring.”
Student involvement is the quintessence of Associated Students, particularly in the voting arena. Student participation is what gives Associated Students its legitimacy; the number of students who vote directly translates to the influence their government carries. Elections officialize that. If Associated Students stand with the support of 7,000 student voters rather than 1,000 when communicating and negotiating with faculty and administration, its goals stand a greater chance of becoming recognized because it represents what matters to the majority of Sonoma State’s student population.
Becoming informed is the first step toward becoming an effective voter. Students are encouraged to check the STAR for candidate information, as well as the website for Associated Students to learn about election details.