Ballots close Thursday in Pierce College’s student government election to determine which candidates will take over key positions in the Associated Student Organization.
Eight candidates have run campaigns this month in races for four executive positions in the college’s student senate. All of Pierce’s roughly 22,000 students will be able to vote online for the ASO’s president, vice president, treasurer and club council president.
“I think the role of student government and committees have become blended in a way where it’s not really working,” said Albert Thakur, an engineering major and one of three candidates running for ASO president. “Number one, the students don’t know what’s going on. We have all these committees, and nobody knows.”
Thakur joined the Navy at 17, where he was a nuclear reactor operator. He was an E3 rank when he left the service, is currently both an actor and part-owner of an oil and gas company based in Pennsylvania, and said he would like to be the first U.S. senator of Indian descent. He is a write-in candidate in the election, and his name will not appear in online ballots.
“What I want to do is create an openness and rapport that we don’t currently have,” Thakur said. “My driving force behind this is to bring some of the knowledge, some of the contacts and some of the skill sets that I’ve developed through literally doing this, and slawing through the mud getting my dreams done.”
Thakur said that if elected, he would work to fix Pierce’s WiFi, improve the sanitation of restrooms, and implement a discount program for Pierce students who patronize local businesses, an idea he compared to a similar program at California State University, Northridge. Thakur also said he would like to work with Texas Instruments to provide calculators for math students.
Ali Asghar is an ASO senator representing the English department, was formerly the chair of the rules and lobby committee and is also running for the position of president. Asghar is a political science major and is currently serving his second semester in the ASO.
“I sit on important committees on campus, such as the accreditation committee,” Asghar said. “I am the delegate of Pierce College to the Student Senate of California Community Colleges Region Seven.”
Asghar said his top priority as president would be resource allocation, and said the most notable resource for students are the classrooms.
“I want to make sure our students have the best resources available to them. Resources have to be efficient to serve the needs of our students,” Asghar said. “When I mean classrooms, I mean maintenance of the classrooms, I mean technology, supplies. You need all those things to make Pierce a better place.”
A proposal Asghar supports calls for solar charging stations, similar to those found at Mission College.
“This is what I was born to do, actually. As a political science major, you learn about campaigns, you learn about mobilization, you learn a lot of things,” he said. “This is what I have, and what my opponent doesn’t have, which is political science skills, which are helping me.”
Asghar said he would like to see the campus do more for students at Pierce who have served in the armed forces.
“We need a veterans’ center on campus. Not a booth,” he said.
The final candidate in the student presidential race is David Do. Do currently serves as the ASO vice president and has represented Pierce’s ASO at the district-level during meetings with the board of trustees.
“I have a lot of respect for our current president, and so there’s not much that I don’t think that he’s not doing right,” Do said of ASO President Alex Oloo, whose seat Do seeks to fill. “I think we can reach for more, and I think our main focus needs to be the student success.”
Do said student involvement and engagement be his top priority, and he would use student surveys to increase that involvement. He mentioned plans to address food options for students. The plan involved a discount program at local restaurants, similar to that proposed by Thakur.
At the meeting of the L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees in January, Do stood and spoke to the board about Pierce’s lack of food and the temporary ban on food trucks on campus.
“As ASO we spearheaded that. We wanted to fight for our rights, show that we had a voice,” Do said. “We came back, and we have the food trucks back. So that was a success.”
Two candidates will appear on the ballot for vice president, Noura Hervani and Barbara Lombrano. The vice president’s job is to chair the ASO meetings, and oversee all of the senate’s committees.
Lombrano currently serves as club council president, is a member of both the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Gamma Sigma honors societies at Pierce, and served in the Navy for 13 years and was an E5 rank when she left. As with other candidates, she would like to promote awareness of and involvement in student government.
“My first order of business would be to promote ASO, to engage more students by getting the information out there,” Lombrano said. “I think first and foremost there’s a huge lack of getting the information out to our students.”
Lombrano said she would try to implement Pierce’s mass email system to inform students about the ASO’s governance and sponsored events.
Hervani, Lombrano’s only opponent, serves on the ASO’s student outreach committee which aims to increase involvement with student government. She said if elected, she would like to take her outreach skills and apply them in her role as vice president, and would boost ASO recruiting and increase the size of club fairs.
“I’ve always been a part of my community, a part of my school,” Hervanis said. “I really want to change how people view the school. I’m pretty much running because nobody knows what the ASO is.”
Hervani said she holds her opponent in high esteem.
“She’s a very, very wise woman,” she said.
Carlos Castaneda is the only candidate for club council president, the main duty of which is to promote student involvement in Pierce’s clubs and to represent their interests to the ASO.
Roxanne Keramati will be the only name on the ballot for the position of treasurer, but a write-in candidate, Charles Zabala, is also running. The position oversees the ASO’s roughly $40,000 budget, and determines the allocation of funds for student-related causes, events and activities.
“The most important thing for the treasurer is to keep record of the budget that we have to work with,” Keramati said. “One of the things I want to do as treasurer is make sure that I’m in touch with the money that we have, because previously I think, since last year, the actual treasurer wasn’t keeping track of the budget.”
Keramati said she would also like to change the way the campus handles food, possibly relaxing restrictions on which vendors the ASO can pay to serve food and cater events.
The election will be conducted entirely online, and will take place between April 21-23. Students who wish to vote should do so through their LACCD email accounts.
Additional reporting by Harry Bennett and Victor Rodriguez.