CSUN Associated Students inaugurates new student government

Adria Brodie

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New senators pay close attention as Dr. William Watkins prepares to swear them in to office. Photo Credit: Misael Virgen / Assistant Photo Editor

Associated Students (A.S.) held its fall inauguration ceremony yesterday in front of a crowd filled with faculty, family and friends including CSUN President Jolene Koester.

Dr. William Watkins, vice president for student affairs, swore A.S. President Conor Lansdale and Vice President Neil Sanchez into office followed by senate members.

Lansdale, Sanchez and A.S. senators were introduced as the 2010-2011 student leaders.

“So this is my new spot,” Lansdale said.

The ceremony was held in the Grand Salon in the University Student Union (USU) and began with an informal reception.

A.S. members mingled with friends, faculty and President Koester before General Manager David Crandall opened the ceremony with a welcome and thanked faculty for their involvement in A.S.

“The partnership of our student leaders and the campus are made more richer because of your support,” Crandall said.

Crandall used an airplane analogy as he explained how A.S. leaders sometimes had to jump with or without a parachute when making decisions.

“Our student leaders know no limits,” Crandall said.

After a laugh from the audience about the analogy, Crandall introduced President Koester, who addressed A.S. members and recognized the ceremony as an individual and institutional celebration.

“I want to acknowledge our students for their individual efforts because they study, and work with other students while taking on the incredible, challenging, and complicated responsibility of student government,” Koester said.

Koester added that the inauguration celebrated the institution of the student government on campus.

“It’s absolutely critical we have a formal student government,” Koester said.

She added the student government provided a platform for students’ issues to be heard.

“From a president’s perspective, I need to have a formal student government to go to about student issues,” Koester said. “It’s a joy to learn from them and watch them learn.”

Watkins, who recently took on his new role, recognized former A.S. President Abel Pacheco in the audience and congratulated A.S. for a tremendous turnout.

He said the ceremony recognized the student leaders in the campus and shared some tips and strategies with A.S. members he planned to use in his new role.

“There are four tips I want to provide to you today,” Watkins said. “First, you should listen, second ask for assistance, next collaborate, and finally be engaged and act.”

Watkins said he worked directly with A.S. and understood the importance of their partnership.

“Students are the best informants of what other students need,” Watkins said.

He added A.S. was seen as a  partnership between student government and faculty leading the institution.

“A.S. deals with a large budget, policy and feedback,” Watkins said. “They run a high organization.”

Sanchez said CSUN was a model campus when it came to faculty involvement in student government.

“I don’t think you can find a better mentor than Dr. Watkins,” Sanchez said. “He is highly respected.”

Following Dr. Watkins, Lansdale acknowledged his parents in the audience who flew in from New Jersey.

Rose Lansdale, Conor’s mother said she was extremely proud of her son.

“As a kid, he had a strong mind and I always knew he would do something great,” Rose said.

Conor said the past year has been hard due to budget cuts, but he expected students to keep him on his toes.

“As president, it’s my goal always to have student success first and accountability,” he said. “That’s what I want the board to support.

Lansdale said the arrival of 5,200 new Matadors on campus created a paradigm shift and he enjoyed the new energy.

He added their perception of CSUN as just a commuter school changed and he looked forward to making it better than it was before he got to CSUN, a statement he linked to his involvement in Greek life.

But, he was not the only student leader with advice.

Sanchez advised senate members to be successful in student government during the senate meeting held after the inauguration ceremony.

“My advice to the senate is to make your promises and represent the students,” Sanchez said.