New ASI President Wants More Student Involvement
Maire Fowler discusses her new role and plans
March 27, 2006 2:59 PM
This month’s Associated Students Inc. election named speech communications major Maire Fowler as the next president. Her term begins May 1.
“We need a lot more student representation,” said Fowler, 22, who currently serves as ASI Vice President of Internal Affairs and a representative on the Student Center Governing Board (SCGB).
Fowler said there are many committees whose decisions affect students, but there aren’t enough students on them. Some of the more important ones she mentioned are the University Master Plan, which works on the overall vision for developing SF State, the Budget Committee, the Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) Committee, which allocates funding for educationally related materials and endeavors, the Student Fee Advisory, which reviews and consults on fee changes, and the Academic Senate.
“You don’t have to be a member of Associated Students to get involved,” Fowler said.
To increase student awareness during her presidency, Fowler wants to create a discourse magazine about current events in university politics. Her idea is to launch the magazine in September and publish new issues monthly.
“We hope to put out information about what’s going on,” Fowler said. “Hardly anyone knows what’s going on.”
Fowler, who grew up with her single mother and older sister in San Diego, said she didn’t become active in politics until she moved to the Bay Area four years ago. She felt strongly about social issues when she was in high school, but activism didn’t seem to have the impact in southern California as it does here. Also, the transformation of moving out and living independently helped her to develop her passion for community involvement.
“I really like it up here,” Fowler said. “Organizing in San Diego is not very effective.”
Fowler said she doesn’t have much free time, between balancing her two jobs in student government with her full load of classes, but when she does have time for leisure she enjoys a variety of activities.
“I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none,” she said. “I like painting, sketching, sometimes I write poetry. I dance, acted in a couple plays.”
When she has some time away from university activities, Fowler works with off-campus groups, as well. She used to work for Young Workers United, as a Spanish-speaking interpreter helping workers file claims, and she recently volunteered at a middle school. She discussed women’s liberation with the students, then helped them to create a 3-block mural. Fowler’s section of the mural, titled “Colors of Resistance,” can be seen at 22nd Street and Bartlett.
Fowler said it’s difficult to find personal time with her busy schedule. Her family is important to her, but finding time to spend with her mother in San Diego and her sister in New Mexico can be a challenge. She also would like to have more time to spend with her boyfriend. After she was finished campaigning for the recent election, Fowler took a couple of days off to rest.
“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s very challenging. After the elections, I gave myself a break.”
Chris Jackson, the current ASI president, said he has confidence in Fowler’s ability to meet the demands of her new office. Jackson said Fowler’s three years of experience in ASI along with tangible accomplishments by members of her party gave her the advantage in the recent election.
“She’s a great advocate,” Jackson said. “She deserves this. I’m really proud of her.”
Jackson met Fowler when he was the sophomore representative, and she ran with him on his slate during his presidential campaign. Jackson said Fowler’s enthusiasm and public speaking ability enable her to deal with the challenges she will face as president.
“People feed off passion,” he said. “She has very positive energy.”
Jackson said he feels the most difficult aspect of being a newly elected ASI president is learning how to function in the new position, and he believes Fowler will be up to the task.
“Unless you’re reelected, you don’t know what it’s like to be president,” he said. “I’m fully confident she’s going to learn.”
Isidro Armenta, 20-year-old design and industry major and current ASI Representative at Large, said Fowler’s experience working as a student advocate makes her well equipped to act on students’ behalf, citing that Fowler has been a student spokesperson to the California Faculty Association.
“I definitely know that she’s going to be a good representative for students,” Armenta said.
Armenta said the university administration might not always be sympathetic to Fowler’s straightforward approach.
“She’s really adamant and feels strongly about her purposes,” Armenta said. “Administration might not be so receptive to that.”
Fowler agrees that her blunt assertiveness can be both her strength and her shortcoming, and recognizes that diplomacy and tact will also be essential skills in her new position, since she will be working with administrators.
“I feel that my whole responsibility is a pro-student agenda. The administration and the state have their own agendas, we students need to have (one),” she said.
Fowler wants to get more students in representative positions to implement student ideas, and sees her newly acquired office as the way to accomplish this goal.
“Many people view politics like a machine that runs with or without someone running it,” she said. “I view politics as a tool that you can use for a specific purpose.”
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