The Nexus, upon unanimous consensus, decided not to endorse a candidate for the Student Advocate General position.
Instead, below we have included a transcript of our interview with the sole candidate for the position, second-year English major Andrew Nguyen.
We believe that Nguyen is not qualified for this position.
At the Student Advocate General (S.A.G.) forum on Monday, Nguyen referenced his experience as an off-campus senator with the 69th Senate. However, when asked about his past involvement with the OSA, he stated he had “zero experience” in the office.
During his interview, when asked why he wants to run for S.A.G., he stated it was because he “figured” he still had “some gas in the tank,” and “it would be almost like a sell-out move to just retire a little bit earlier than ahead of time.”
On top of that, he did not seem to have a concrete understanding of what the S.A.G. position entails.
While we admire his enthusiasm, his lack of experience and knowledge of the office overall do not inspire enough confidence in the Nexus to endorse him.
The transcript begins below. It has been shortened and lightly edited for clarity:
What is your name, year and major?
I am a second year English major and history minor.
Why are you running for S.A.G.?
I didn’t anticipate running for an exec position…. I thought that because I served as a senator as an off-campus Senator this year, I would retire after this year, but I figured I still had some gas in the tank and there was still a lot of work left to be done in our community. I figured it would almost be like a sell out move to just retire a little bit earlier than ahead of time.
What party did you run with as senator? Do you think parties should exist?
If you asked me a couple of months ago, I would say [parties] would be completely unnecessary. Now, looking back [on this] year as a whole, I think parties offer some value. I think it’s kept other senators accountable because there is this sense of competitiveness. But as a whole, I think [it has caused] a lot more friction in the organization then it needs to be.
Because you were involved in Campus United, are you worried that people might not think that you’re independent if you do get the position?
I’m going to try to brand myself as completely unaffiliated as much as I can. But of course, no matter what you say or how much you do, there’s still people who will cast you one way or another…
I thrive best in one-on-one situations, on individual scenarios, right. So even in the Senate room, I’ve tried throughout the entire year to cross the aisle per se. I love working with IVP senators. I try to cooperate and collaborate them as much as I can.
What are you involved with on campus that you believe makes you qualified for S.A.G.?
I worked for the annual fund and as student ambassadors. So even working with a bunch of those people, you’re talking to all different parts of the campus. Other than that I’m also in the Zeta Psi fraternity. So I’m involved in the Greek community, which constitutes about 10% of our campus. [I am also in] mock trial. I did [mock trial] my freshman year and I still serve as a student coach. And so all of those organizations I think touches on these different corners of our campus. Honestly, I’m just one person and I’d love to be involved as much as I can, but I can’t [be involved in everything].
You are involved in Greek Life. You will most likely be dealing with a lot of cases and maybe even some against members of Greek Life. Do you feel there’s any sort of conflict of interest here, and what can you do to ease the concerns of the students on campus who don’t feel safe around Greek Life?
I think my involvement in the Greek Life community actually offered me a really unique perspective. I think I could actually approach those sort of cases with less prejudice because it’s well known that there’s a stigma around a Greek life. Right? And I think that’s where a lot of biases against people that comes about. But having been in Greek life myself, I can see that there are really awesome people in Greek life. I met some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life [in Greek life]. I think [being in Greek life] allows me to approach these sort of cases, along with other communities I’m involved in, in a way that is a more compassionate than someone that isn’t.
What do you think is the most important aspect of being S.A.G.?
I think making the resources [that are] more accessible. I know a large part of the job is to represent the students interests in terms of disciplinary action. That was definitely a large part of the job. But for me and going into this election season, I really want to emphasize my passion for making a lot of the resources on campus more accessible, [because] at least from my experience, a large part of these resources exist in the first place is because it became clear that a lot of students need things like the Food Bank, but [some students] don’t know that these resources exist.
Are there any specific projects that you’re interested in working on while S.A.G.?
I was talking to Jack Tannenbaum [Editor’s Note: Tannenbaum was the 2017-2018 S.A.G.] who was working on [a poll project] throughout the entire year. It was to collect data from the student body, especially from people who aren’t involved in A.S. through the outreach.
I would love to take on that project, but to build upon it. Tabling, going door to door and through basic face interactions to get students actually really thinking about this thing critically. So [I want to] collect that data and then bring it to the Senate and then say, ‘That this is what the student prioritize.’ I think that is the best way to first determine what the students want. And then from there working with my team to figure out how to make those resources more visible. I can’t do this [alone] obviously. But to work with the cabinet, along with the 24 senators that are about to get elected, I think we do some real damage.
What would you look for in hiring caseworkers, in members of your office? What are some qualities you’d look for?
This is arguably thing I thought about most… I’m really looking forward [to working with a team] and my team will have eagerness and a passion for [the office]. I’m looking for people who will approach these cases with a sense of humanity and compassion that I think the OSA requires a level of empathy that I think students deserve. So that’s the thing I’m really looking for, goodhearted people who care, but [also] have this really special level of compassion for others.
Example: Say there is an incident where someone says that you are not doing your job correctly. How would you respond to that?
Listen to them, for starters. I think from my experience as a senator and [from] my leadership experience in high school, it’s much harder to sit down and listen to what someone has to say to you, especially when it’s not convenient. So that’s the first thing I’d do. I would listen and see where they’re coming from and then work with them to see how we can better.
Do you have experience working with people in the administration? People like Katya Armistead, Margaret Klawunn, etc.?
No, I don’t actually. So a lot of this will be new and a lot of it is very daunting. But the team that I’m hoping to create, I am looking for people who were experienced in working with those sorts of figures. So, I mean, a lot of what you just said seemed daunting.
Do you think you’re prepared for this position?
I mean, I’m here right now. I think so. I’m hopeful more than I am [prepared]. I am frightened, but I am a human being, so a lot of nights I do stay up thinking about it to see if I’m ready. But I think a large part of me, like I said, is really excited, but [there is] that part that is scared. I think I even find value in that.
I think it means I’m not stupid. I am trying to be really delicate and really critical about the things I say. I understand the gravity of this position.
How would you uphold that confidentiality?
I think the major thing is to emphasize [confidentiality] with my case workers because they’re the ones that are also seeing the case. And for me personally, I’ve dealt with confidentiality. Just being a senator, we have to uphold confidentiality with, especially with Title IX reports.
What do you think can be most improved around campus?
I think the major thing I’m focused on is the visibility and access to resources. [Hearing] from my friends and my constituents as the senator right now, people just don’t know they exist. That would be the thing that would be most improved. Like I said, just highlighting those sort of resources.
Legal Code states that the S.A.G. is expected to “Educate the student body about student’s rights, University and Associated Students policies, laws, regulations, procedures, and promote awareness of the availability of support and assistance services offered both by the OSA, Associated Students, and the University at large.” How would you go about doing that?
Yeah, so I know workshops are also very good way to go about that. I think a lot of students are interested in the rights that they have. I think once I have been making myself visible and I have a good amount of influence on the community at large, I think pushing these workshops that educate people on their student rights [would] be really helpful.
Where do you think your personal identity intersects with your professional duty to represent students, especially those of historically underrepresented communities? How do you think your identity will play a role in your position as S.A.G. if elected?
Well, I’m a second generation American. My parents migrated over to America in 1979 and so growing up, I have definitely been somebody who has experienced and been exposed to a lot of microaggressions. Absolutely. But to say that I have been largely marginalized and I think would be to invalidate the narratives of so many other people. I don’t plan on casting myself as someone by a marginalized narrative, but I do have a sense of what that feels to be a second generation American.
How would you go about choosing your team?
So I would send out an application. An online application that asks what organizations they’re part of. That’s major, that very basic stuff. Right. And then once they come to interview, I kind of have to ask them, um, [a lot of] sorts of questions. Quite honestly, [I want] just to see different personalities in work.
The Daily Nexus Editorial Board is comprised of the editor in chief and the news team.
Correction [11:10 p.m.]: Nguyen said he originally thought A.S. political parties were “unnecessary,” not “necessary.” This article has been updated to reflect that.
Endorsements should be published in the opinion section.
he’s not grecia and thats all i care about
Nguyen would be able to fill the shoes of the S.A.G. if he set his mind to it; otherwise, 2% of the student body could call for his impeachment