Associated Student Organization (ASO) President Gabriel Mellibosky on representing Pierce College’s student body, organizing the Oct. 26 rally against budget cuts, and staying on top of it all.
ASO, Pierce College’s student-run government, is often referred to as our students’ “voice.” What concerns do we have as a growing college community?
As of now, our concerns are the budget cuts, fee increase, and cuts in financial aid. Financial items, but the biggest one I think are the budget cuts, because once you get a class cut it’s gone. You just can’t go.
What services does ASO provide the students of our campus?
We are the voice of the students, as you said. So anything that the students need representation on, we are the people to come to, which most students don’t know. I have tons of meetings with professors and administrators where I can bring up any problem that the students are facing. We also do the organizing of events here on campus; we do the fun stuff for students. Without ASO we wouldn’t have any events on campus, because the clubs are ASO. We wouldn’t have anything entertaining to do other than just, maybe, playing sports for the school. Otherwise we would come to school and then just go home.
As ASO president, what are your biggest goals for your term?
For me, personally, the most important thing is to fight for the student’s rights. Last semester when Danny Axelrod was president, I was a senator but me and my friend were kind of his right hand. We helped him with everything he did, so I knew what was coming and now I am continuing what he started, which are the rallies. When something’s not right with the government, society has to react to it. If we don’t react they will keep abusing us, so that’s why we had that rally last semester. We’re having another rally this semester to show that we are not for these budget cuts. Right now my personal goal is to fight the budget cuts and fee increases.
You grew up in Chile, what are some differences you see in our educational systems?
Chile is currently going through many protests. They have around 150,000 students protesting and they haven’t been to class in four months because in Chile the educational system for universities is one of the most expensive in the world. They want to bring down the costs to make it free or make it cheaper, but here we’re going the other way. [Education] used to be cheap and now we’re raising so we’re going toward where Chile is now. Which shouldn’t be because Chile is a smaller country, it’s a second-world country as they call it and how can it be that US education is going toward a second-world country, and the second world country is becoming like the US used to be, so what does that mean the US is becoming a second-world country now?
Speaking of protests, you are currently organizing the Oct. 26 “Where’s The Funding?” (WTF?) rally. What do you wish to be accomplished through this event?
I’m trying to get, not just the students out to protest about the budget cuts, but I also want to get the community involved to show that it’s not just a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds complaining about this, it’s our whole community because it’s not right.
Aside from participating in the rally, how else can our community get involved?
The most important is that we have to start voting. We don’t vote, and if we started voting we could elect our next governor, our next mayor, who will make laws for our school. The big problem is that we don’t vote, we have around a 10 percent vote rate so we need to make it 80 to 90 percent.
On top of all of this you also have your classes, multiple weekly meetings, and participate in various clubs. How do you manage? Do you even sleep?
When I started I wasn’t really used to it, so at first I wasn’t really sleeping or eating that well because I was going everywhere and doing all these things. Now that I am in my third week I’m starting to get used to it, I’m starting to manage my time better. At first it was hard, I have to admit.
What do you enjoy most about your busy schedule?
I have some very interesting meetings, I like debating and I like talking about the different issues. For example the Student Affairs Committee [SAC] meetings in Los Angeles with the nine community colleges because we talk about district-wide issues and I get to see how other schools are. It lets me see the larger picture, not just Pierce. And being here at the [ASO] office you make new friends all the time.
Let’s say you had some free time, what would you do?
Free time. [LAUGHS] Usually when I have some free time here at school I just go to the beach and then come back, I only ever have a couple of hours. But if I had more than that I would travel to Chile to see my family. I love traveling.