Rambler Editor-in-Chief Tristan Reynolds interviewed Jocelyn Lucero, one of the candidates for the SGA Presidency. Read the full interview below, and read his interviews with the other candidates, as well as full Rambler coverage of the 2018 SGA Elections, here.
The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.
Tristan Reynolds: Alright, the first thing I want to ask you is why are you qualified to be SGA president?
Jocelyn Lucero: I definitely feel like I’m a leader on campus. I’ve obviously been on SGA for two years now. I held the PR Chair office for both years. So I’ve had an extra leadership role in SGA apart from just being a regular senator. Also, I’m involved in a lot of different organizations on campus. So yes, I’m involved in Greek life, but I’m also involved in a lot of other things. I’m obviously involved with Spanish club. I did the new religious group on campus with Amanda DeWitt. I kind of helped her figure that out too. And also I was selected as a First Engagements Coordinator, and I work in admissions, so I kind of see a lot of different sides to Transy, and having that opportunity to be able to see all the different sides of Transy, I feel like I have a well-rounded idea of what’s going on on campus from both a student side and kind of an administration side. That’s because through admissions, through First Engagements, I do get a lot of those emails of kind of what’s going on on campus. So I feel like I’m in the know and, also I know a lot of the people in administration, and I’ve built relationships with them. So if I were to be elected and something were to come to my table where I do need to confront administration, at least I have some kind of relationship with them where I’d feel comfortable actually talking to them and kind of voicing my opinion just because over the past two years I’ve been able to build those relationships.
Tristan Reynolds: There’s a lot I want to touch on there. But the first thing I want to ask is, you mentioned being involved with a bunch of different campus organizations. Can you commit that, if elected, the presidency who would be your first priority?
Jocelyn Lucero: I think so, yes, because I understand that the presidency is a big responsibility. So I would definitely give most of my time to that. Also, that being said, like next year I won’t be a First Engagements coordinator because I’ll be a senior, and being an ambassador is basically during the week, so I feel like I would, since I am going to be a senior I’ll kind of be on the back end of the other organizations, but obviously SGA would take priority. And I’ve done a pretty good job of managing my time this year. I’m pretty impressed with myself. Freshman year I wasn’t involved in anything and I look back now and I’m like, what did I do with my time?
Tristan Reynolds: In the other interview you mentioned attending one of the strategic plan forums. How, if elected, how would you involve SGA and students more broadly in that strategic planning process?
Jocelyn Lucero: Well, I definitely loved that they had that forum open to all students. I think that maybe to improve that we could have maybe forums just for students because I feel like definitely having an administration there or teachers or faculty or whatever might have caused some students to not come; maybe they didn’t feel comfortable sharing their thoughts or something like that. So I love having the idea of everybody coming together and just voicing their opinions, kind of telling people what’s going on on campus because I don’t know what other students here have gone through because I haven’t talked to everybody on campus. So in order to improve that, I feel like we definitely need to have a conversation about what’s going on on campus because if we don’t then obviously they can’t do anything because we don’t know what’s wrong. So that’s one of the ways that I think that we could improve that and kind of involve SGA, like advertise it to the, all the students, you know, even if we just have to go personally to people and be like, ‘Hey, I know you’re involved in this organization, you need to come to this forum because you have a specific voice on campus that we haven’t heard of yet.’ So that’s kind of what I would do.
Tristan Reynolds: You’ve talked a bit about conversations between different groups on campus and between different student groups and the university. So I want to explore that a little bit more. Assuming you’re elected, how do you view the idea of a proper relationship between SGA and the university administration?
Jocelyn Lucero: I think it obviously needs to be a positive relationship. However, I understand that there are limitations to it and obviously I would love to say that
Tristan Reynolds: What do you mean by limitations?
Jocelyn Lucero: Because the administration puts limitations on the students. And then a lot of times I’ve seen how the administration has put limitations on SGA, like whether that be certain projects that we can’t pursue or we’re shut down immediately. Just kind of even the chain of order or the chain of command, how we have to go through this person first and this person just to get to the person that we actually need to talk to. That’s a big limitation I feel like. Obviously you have to do that though in order to get stuff done. So that’s one of the things that I realized that I would love to just take all of these ideas for students and just go to the administration and be like, you need to fix this, students are angry, but I can’t do that because they’re not going to listen to me if I’m just going to go knocking on their door raising hell. So I understand that there needs to be a diplomatic relationship between SGA and the administration to the point where I can comfortably talk with the administration, whether that’d be President Carey or Holly Sheilley and kind of just bring to the table what students want, but do it in such a way that I’m not shut down immediately or they just brush me off or they think I’m just being crazy or whatever.
Tristan Reynolds: You mentioned the relationship between students and the university. Do you think the university comes to that relationship in good faith?
Jocelyn Lucero: That’s a hard question. I think that maybe the administration does have the students’ best interest sometimes, or maybe they do all the time, but as students we don’t really see that. But I think in order to kind of make that relationship better, I feel like there has to be a lot of transparency and clarity. So when the administration does things that affect students we need to know very clearly what’s going to be happening there.
Tristan Reynolds: What do you mean by things that affect students?
Jocelyn Lucero: Just any decisions that the administration makes. It affects students. In one of our previous SGA meetings, we were talking about summer housing, how they eliminated summer housing, which they fixed; now they’re now offering summer housing in Forrer. At least it’s being offered. When they did that, they did it so late, and they also kind of just sent out a blank email. It wasn’t even to the whole student body when that’s an issue that obviously affects all of us because so many of our students stay on campus during the summer. So just things like that, they need to take into account students’ voices before they kind of make those decisions because obviously that directly affects our students. So any decisions like that really, which is basically almost all of the decisions that the administration makes. I do like though how they’re recreating the GE system, how the Student Affairs committee has had a say in that GE new plan or whatever you want to call it. So it’s just adding more things like that and the strategic planning forum where they’re actually calling on students to come participate in these forums. That’s what needs to happen because like I said, all of those decisions that are being made involve students and kind of how students work here at Transy and how they are able to study and whatnot.
Tristan Reynolds: If elected, how would you work to ensure that students have a greater voice in the, in the running of the university in the way that you just described?
Jocelyn Lucero: I can’t ensure that, that’s the thing, but I can definitely try my hardest to advocate for students to let me know their voice and opinions. But we have all these forums sometimes, and people don’t show up, and I am fully aware of that. But if elected SGA president, I would make it my priority to make sure that we are hearing all of the students’ voices, you know, we do have these forums and they’re big events, but maybe a lot of people don’t come to them. So maybe we need to take a different kind of plan on how to do that. Maybe I do have to go personally up to students, like in the library, or maybe I have to go up to people in the cafeteria. Like I said earlier, go to presidents of certain organizations that I know that I haven’t talked to or that I don’t know what their opinion is on things. So if elected president, I think that I would take that upon myself to do. Because I know, I mean obviously I would love to have these forums, and I would love for everybody on campus to show out. I would love for people to fill out surveys and all this stuff. But the matter, the reality is that not everybody does. And the few voices that do come to those forums or that do fill out the surveys like I said, they’re the same voices that we hear over and over again. Which is great, I’m not saying we don’t want to hear their voices either, but I just want a variety of different opinions, and even on a day to day basis, if I’m just talking to my friends or just people I know, I’ll hear them talk about things going on at Transy, and I’m like, ‘OK, well why don’t you bring that to SGA’ and so forth. And I realize that they’re like, well, what is SGA going to do for us? Which is true in some way.
Tristan Reynolds: I want to push you on that a little bit.
Jocelyn Lucero: Yeah, go ahead.
Tristan Reynolds: You’re talking about it in a sense that the first thing that you have to do is make sure that the students show up. But what, what’s the incentive for students to show up if they have no faith that they’ll be listened to? And full disclosure here, I was at the same panel that you were at, and I think a lot of what we heard was that students didn’t have that faith. How do you see those two things interacting?
Jocelyn Lucero: Well, because at that forum that we both were at, Johnnie [Johnson] kind of said something where he was like, ‘Oh you students you have an advocate, you just don’t know who it is. You need to go from one person to the next person.’ And obviously there was a lot of backlash on that or whatever you want to call it. Because students did say that they didn’t feel heard, and even if they do tell somebody what’s the point, nothing’s going to change. Even a professor said that, right? How she contacted administration and nothing happened. So what’s the point? But I think that obviously nothing is going to change overnight, and it is definitely not going to change if I don’t hear your voice. Do you know what I mean? So that’s just the first step. It’s a baby step. It’s a small step, yeah, it probably won’t change a lot of stuff, but at least it’s a step in the right direction because if people aren’t voicing their opinions then obviously we’re not going to get anywhere. I think as an incentive, I would just kind of stress that, that this is the first step to be able to see change at our university, and I just want to make sure that everybody feels included in it and everybody feels like everybody’s opinion is equally accounted for and taken into consideration, even if that’s just me taking into consideration or even just SGA listening to everybody. And then that’s on the administration. Obviously SGA would try to push for the administration to listen to the students. That’s what we do. Administration’s going to do what they want, but we can still push on our front. So I know that I would do everything I can possibly do to make sure that the students, that I somehow get change for the students. But like I said, I can’t ensure that because that’s not my decision. That’s the administration’s decision to make.
Tristan Reynolds: Shifting topics a bit. You’ve talked a lot through these two interviews about different student organizations, so I want to ask you how, again supposing you’re elected, how do you see SGA interacting with other student organizations?
Jocelyn Lucero: Well I think one of the main uses of SGA is to help other student organizations. We fund other student organizations and their events and all the what not. So we should be a resource for other organizations to come to if they need help, whether that be funding, whether that be advertising, whether that just be they need help getting to the administration or whatever. So I definitely see SGA as a resource first. Someone or something that other student organizations can use to help whatever they…how do I word this? Just a resource for other student organizations to use so that those student organizations can be present on campus a lot more than they already are and be equal so all our organizations are on the same level, if that makes sense. Because I think there’s definitely some organizations that people think a little bit more power or they’re bigger or they have more voice or whatever.
Tristan Reynolds: Can I ask you to be a little more explicit about that?
Jocelyn Lucero: About what organizations?
Tristan Reynolds: Yeah.
Jocelyn Lucero: Well, obviously the big elephant in the room, Greek life, you know, a lot of students and other student organizations think that Greek life just overpowers the university. And I myself am in Greek life, so I understand where they’re coming from.
Tristan Reynolds: Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Jocelyn Lucero: That Greek life does have too much power? I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. I think that. Oh, I’m sorry. Can we go back? Did you say, do I think it’s fair or do I think that that’s true?
Tristan Reynolds: Fair assessment in the sense that it’s reflective of reality.
Jocelyn Lucero: OK, well then, you know, I think that’s a hard and tough question. I definitely think that obviously every single individual Greek organization on campus has a voice, and we sometimes lump just everybody else together, if that makes sense. We say, Oh, this chapter, this chapter, this chapter, this chapter, and then unaffiliated people. So I think that’s not very right. We should definitely, like I said, in that group of unaffiliated people, venture in there and actually figure out who’s in that group and make sure that every single person in that group is heard because not all affiliated people think the same way.
Tristan Reynolds: Returning to the original question, you mentioned elevating campus organizations that we don’t hear from so often. Let me ask you about the converse of that. Is it possible to give everyone more of a voice, or do some organizations’ voices have to quiet in accommodation to that?
Jocelyn Lucero: I think first I want to give more organizations a bigger voice. I think that’s what I want to do first. Then if we realize that we need to quiet some organizations, then we’ll go down that road. But first I think that we need to focus on the people who don’t have a voice and then figure that out later.
Tristan Reynolds: Time for some blatantly political questions. Do you expect to win?
Jocelyn Lucero: I don’t really expect anything, you know. Coming into this race or campaign, I kind of just wanted to do this for myself because we kind of see the same people over and over again in these positions. And maybe some people say that about me too, like, oh, she’s the First Engagements Coordinator or whatever or, and I don’t know.
Tristan Reynolds: I want to pause here and dig into that a little bit. Again, do you think that’s a fair assessment in that it’s reflective of reality?
Jocelyn Lucero: That the same people are being in these positions over and over again? I think so. I think on our campus we kind of see the same leaders and the same people apply to all of these leadership positions on campus, which it isn’t necessarily a problem, but you know, sometimes you just need a little bit of a change. Because like I said, it’s the same people over again. So it’s the same voices being heard. It’s the same organizations and power.
Tristan Reynolds: Why do you think that is?
Jocelyn Lucero: I don’t know. You know, I think it’s, I feel like a lot of it is people don’t want to try because they feel like even if I apply, it doesn’t matter, I’m not going to get it, so and so’s going to get it anyways, cause they always get it. That’s something that I’ve heard from my friends over and over and over again and I feel like is something that’s heard around campus. I don’t know if that’s administration’s fault that people are hiring, or I don’t know if that’s just because nobody else is applying for these positions, but maybe like I said, they don’t apply because they don’t think they’re going to get it. So that’s kind of why I just put myself in here too. I don’t think I’m going to get it, but I might as well try it. There’s no harm in trying. That’s just me.
Tristan Reynolds: I want to ask you a bit about the candidates. Thinking about your other two opponents, and suppose one of them is elected, either of them is elected. Do you think they’ll carry out the duties of the job to the best of their ability?
Jocelyn Lucero: I do think that they would. And that’s one of the things that, that’s why if I lose, I’m not necessarily going to be crushed or anything because I think both of the candidates are very capable people, and I think that we actually share similar views. And I know Shelby, she’s unaffiliated, so that would be great for SGA. But I also know Mark, and Mark and I are very similar on a lot of the same things. We’ve talked before and even in SGA, we usually have similar opinions. So I think that they’re both very capable, and if either of them were elected, I think that we would be in good hands.
Tristan Reynolds: I want to end with a two part question. Suppose that you lose, would you stay on SGA, and how would you help the president, whoever it is, improve campus?
Jocelyn Lucero: Oh yeah, for sure I would stay on SGA. Like I said, even when I was deciding whether or not I was going to do this I was like, oh, I’m going to be on SGA anyway, so I might as well try it because I don’t think I’d be a sore loser or anything like that. But yeah, I would stay on SGA, and I would definitely help the president in any way I could. Like I said, I’m on Student Affairs committee, and I’ll probably stay on Student Affairs committee if I lose. And I’ll just keep on chugging, keep on doing all the projects that I’m doing and really just see if the president needs any help that they do need. Because I understand that being president is a big responsibility, and maybe they might need help. Like I was saying, reaching out to students. I can do that for them if they don’t want to do it because I would love to do that. And just have a more active role. And that’s kind of what I do in a lot of different organizations too. Even though if I’m not in a position of leadership, I just kind of ask and see if there’s anything that needs to be done because at the end of the day, we’re all in this for the students. That’s what SGA is; it’s a student government it’s supposed to represent the students, it’s supposed to be there for the students. And that’s one of the main reasons why I joined it last year in the first place. So that’s what I would do to help the president if I were to lose.
Tristan Reynolds: OK, here’s the second part. Supposing you win, and the other two candidates remain on SGA, how do you see yourself working with them and with the larger Senate to implement some of the ideas we’ve talked about?
Jocelyn Lucero: I would definitely strive to have a very cohesive senate and have a productive one at that because I think that SGA can very easily get into this thing where, oh yeah, we meet every Wednesday, and I’m going to email this person, oh, I’m going to make a meeting with this person, and then nothing ends up getting done. So I definitely want a very productive SGA, whether that’d be even just small projects, getting a stapler next to the printer in Hazelrigg downstairs. I always use that lady’s stapler. But even if it’s little projects, like those are little victories. And then like I said, if I want us to pursue bigger projects too, maybe things that, you know, might cause a little bit of tension with administration, but at least try.
Tristan Reynolds: I got to ask you to be more explicit on that.
Jocelyn Lucero: I mean I feel like a lot of times maybe we shy away from different projects that are like, oh, the administration isn’t going to like that or things like that. But I think that we should at least try and look at the possibilities for venturing those kind of projects. Try it.
Tristan Reynolds: What kind of projects?
Jocelyn Lucero: One time we tried to pave the dirt. I feel like every SGA tries to pave the dirt path, and we have looked at it in many different ways, and it just always gets shut down. But hey, maybe we just have to keep on doing it, and maybe eventually the administration will say yes, but to be determined, just things like that. And like I said earlier, I wanted to put a mural up where the cooling tower is, but everybody was like, well, Forrer is going to come down. So there’s just no use in putting up a mural. But I, that was my project sophomore year, so it could have at least been up for two years. I don’t care if Forrer was going to come down or whatever. At least it would have been up there for a little bit. I feel like that happens a lot too, where we start projects, and then we’re kind of like put in this stage of limbo because Oh, the university doesn’t know what’s going to happen. And especially with all this construction going around because obviously they don’t know what’s going to happen. But I think that even if we know that those projects are going to be limbo, but I think we just need to go ahead and pursue them and just be like, well, we might as well try it because you never know what happens. Like the pool table that I’m trying to get for students. We were going to put it in Forrer, but Forrer is coming down, so where are we going to put it? Like, is it going to stay in storage? And I was just like, we just need to buy it. We have all of this money left over, and if we don’t spend it, we’re not going to get it back. So we might as well spend it on something for the students. But that was my take on it, not just talking for all of SGA, just myself personally.
Tristan Reynolds: Jocelyn Lucero, thank you for your time.
Jocelyn Lucero: Thank you so much.