Nov. 3, 2011Vol. 42, Issue 2

Meet the AS President

Students and Administrators: Making the Connection

Enthusiasm and commitment are important for someone like Long, one of the decision makers responsible for influencing University policy and the main connection between students and administrators on campus. 

Long was inspired to run for AS president after serving the year before as director of university affairs. “I worked with a lot of faculty and staff, and they were willing to listen to my ideas and collaborate with me,” she says.

Her responsibilities as president range from serving as chair of the AS Board of Directors, attending 19 different committee meetings to holding 10 office hours a week and representing students at the university and community level.

“There are people that will never have the opportunity to sit on a board of directors in their entire career,” says AS Executive Director David Buckley. “What Long gets to do for the University is a big deal.”

The AS Board of Directors is composed of nine people—six student officers, Vice President for Business and Finance Lorraine Hoffman, Vice President for Student Affairs Drew Calandrella, and a faculty member. The board makes decisions on policy changes—big and small.

A big decision now facing the AS board of directors is staff health care. To come to a decision, the board must consider the organization and employee benefits. While Buckley does not vote on decisions like these, he advises Long and other student officers, weighing the pros and cons for them to be able to come to a decision. “I’m here to help them on their journey,” he says.

Long feels that Buckley, the administrators, and the other career staff that she works closely with on a daily basis are “phenomenal.” Buckley and Long work together as a team, discussing issues to bring up at meetings and brainstorming ideas for events.

“What I really love about Long is that she loves students and wants to give back to the University,” says Buckley. “She’s willing to put herself out there, listen to students, and share her own opinions.”

One of the ways Long is “giving back” to the University is through Coffee With the AS President. Every Wednesday, students, faculty, and staff are invited to meet with Long outside the Marketplace Café or inside the BMU, raise their concerns about University life, and ask or tell her anything. This, in addition to her 10 office hours a week, keeps her closely connected to students, staff, and faculty.

“People want to be heard by the people in charge and feel validated,” she says. “I especially want students to feel like they can hold me accountable.”

Most of the people who come for coffee are students, and most of the time she is overturning misconceptions or clarifying things that are happening on campus. “A lot of people thought that the reason tuition went up was due to the new parking structure being built on campus, which is false,” she says. “If someone asks me a question I cannot answer, I tell them to come back to me next week and I’ll have that answer for them.” She keeps a list of all the issues people bring to her and shares them at the meetings she attends.

Long looks at Coffee With the AS President as her biggest accomplishment as president so far. She hopes it further brings students, faculty, and staff together to ask questions, raise opinions, and promote openness within the student government and administration.

Coffee With the AS President began as a small idea and snowballed into something bigger. Buckley and Long communicate ideas like this one to each other, offering advice and encouragement as well as insight, and work to see that the idea becomes a reality.

One of Long’s current ideas in progress is “Conversations With the Administration.” Her idea is to bring President Zingg and head administrators together in a panel-type discussion that will give students a chance to address any questions or concerns they have with the University.

Buckley is also currently working on a Leadership Institute that will be offered to all students on campus. “For years AS has had great leaders that go on to do great things,” says Buckley. “I have noticed that students are more hungry than ever to become leaders.”

Buckley’s Leadership Institute will include six different tracks that students may take, with various workshops on leadership. It will offer students a certificate in leadership when they are done, and possibly include paid or unpaid internships. “I want Chico to be known for its leadership,” he says.

Buckley’s position for AS already includes leadership development, and this institute would open it up to all students on campus. “I want all students to succeed outside of campus,” says Buckley. “I take any opportunity I can to help students.”

Serving as president has had a profound effect on Long. After working closely with Buckley and other career staff in the office, she thinks she would like to pursue a career in higher education or work for a politician. “But definitely not become a politician!” she says.

Since her position is more interactive work than paperwork, Long has been able to make and strengthen connections to people on campus. “When you believe in an organization like this, and truly represent the students, it never feels like work,” says Long.

Long would like to encourage everyone on campus to bring their questions and concerns to Coffee With the AS President Wednesday mornings, 8:45–10:45 a.m. beside Marketplace Café or inside the BMU atrium, depending on the weather.

—Cassandra Jones, Public Affairs and Publications editorial intern