Rising senior to prioritize student group cohesion
May 18, 2017
Newly-elected Associated Student Government president Jack Herstam is no stranger to making students’ voices heard.
Formerly a first-year, sophomore and junior senator, Herstam was elected ASG president last week alongside his running mate, incoming junior Samantha Pérez.
Currently serving as the University Issues Committee chair, Herstam is accustomed to looking for ways to improve.
“When people make the point that ASG can’t really do much, that point’s wellfounded,” Herstam said. “But I would challenge everyone to look at the many other things that ASG has done.”
Herstam is from Phoenix, AZ and is double majoring in ethnic studies and political science with a minor in philosophy.
He also frequents Goodwill and The Salvation Army. He can be seen wearing at least one thrifted item of clothing every day.
For the upcoming school year, Herstam hopes to accomplish overall greater spirit of cooperation between ASG, Multicultural Center (MCC), Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP) and Associated Programming Board (APB).
“A lot of work gets done with those four organizations, but not between or within those organizations,” Herstam said. “I think there’s a lot of capability and a lot of potency that has yet to be tapped.”
Herstam said that ASG will continue to protect marginalized students in the future.
“The thing about making big steps to support these groups is understanding that the only effective steps that work are when you are in collaboration with other groups,” Herstam said. “Like groups in the MCC, groups with SCCAP, and from the administration as well.” There is an initiative from Undocumented Students and Allies (USAA) that is looking towards a potential resource center for undocumented students.
This is something that both ASG and the MCC can put forward in theory, but requires financial support from the university, according to Herstam.
He also hopes to embrace the ideas brought forth by the most recent Unity 4 forum.
He is optimistic about the increasing diversity of the student body as well as among the faculty population.
In terms of addressing the tuition increase, Herstam and ASG are going to ensure that students are a part of the University Budget Committee in some way and can contribute to meetings in order to give the student perspective.
“I know that right now favorability for the administration isn’t necessarily the highest that it’s ever been because of tuition increases and a lack of overall listening in transparency,” Herstam said. “But, I would really want to emphasize that everyone I have worked with in the administration has the best intentions of the student body in mind.”
To help maximize transparency between various levels of power within the university, Herstam and Pérez are looking to create campus spotlight videos online of different administrators, student groups and student leaders who have a great deal of say in university initiatives.
ASG’s involvement in the creation of a Turning Point USA chapter at Santa Clara was something that put things into perspective in a humbling way for Herstam.
“The only power that we have is the power of the pen and the power to persuade,” Herstam said. “But even when we make a ruling on something, that can still get thrown out with the bath water.”
To become more of a presence on campus, Herstam thinks ASG can listen to students.
If ASG pays attention to what students want, students will pay attention to ASG.
“It’s that simple,” Herstam said. “They’ll show up for food and they’ll show up for something they care about.”
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.