New AS president hopeful for future of Associated Students
After a busy spring campaigning for the title of Associated Student (AS) President, Hodges spent his summer preparing for an eventful year and hoping for some exciting changes.
“I try to keep things light but also expect the most of myself and everyone at USD,” TJ Hodges, the new Associated Student President said. “I believe this position is a lot about compromising, and that’s very difficult to do if you are not flexible and willing to hear other people out.”
To help prepare, Hodges has been meeting and communicating with University of San Diego administrators, faculty, and staff to spread the word about his message and goals for the year. His goals include solving financial issues, increasing school spirit, stimulating conversation about inclusion and diversity, and encouraging an increasingly active student body.
One of Hodges’ main focus points is working to make the university more attentive and accommodating to students who find it difficult to pay USD’s infamously expensive price tag.
After witnessing the effort put forth by administrators to carefully budget student costs, Hodges stated that he recognizes the need to be creative and innovative with shifting student costs.
“I believe we can compromise and find creative ways to either help students avoid the costs or reduce them,” Hodges said. “Some of those options may include creating a textbook reserve, offering low-cost meals, or exploring student living requirements. I have faith that USD can come together to solve this problem rather than resist it.”
Additionally, the AS President explained that he hopes to use his newly granted power toward creating, increasing, and sustaining school spirit. Hodges also said that he hopes to increase a sense of school spirit by allowing on-campus tailgating for students 21 years or older for sporting events to help boost a sense of camaraderie amongst USD students.
Hodges believes that, while it is crucial to recognize where new additions may be made, it is just as important to recognize where our existing traditions lie and how programs such as Associated Students and Torero Program Board can sustain them.
“By promoting existing traditions such as the Alcala Bazaar, the Running of the Bulls, and other organized activities on campus, we are focused on building tradition rather than creating it,” Hodges said. “If we continue to create traditions annually, by definition we will have no traditions.”
With many goals in mind, Hodges must work his hardest to maintain a balance between pleasing the student body while also keeping in mind the needs of faculty, staff, and administration. Students may express what they believe the university needs based on a four year experience, while much of the faculty has been with the institution for much longer. This makes it possible for there to be wide range of perspectives based on different experiences, which can lead to conflicts of interest.
As the liaison between students and administration, Hodges explained that he believes this ultimately leads to an opportunity for improvement when these conflicts of interest arise.
“I manage this conflict by advocating for student solutions to student issues,” Hodges said. “However, unlike in other scenarios, a compromise between students and faculty and administration does not mean we are giving up something; rather we are gaining insight and execution from other members of the community.”
Hodges also expressed that he hopes to increase focus on conversations surrounding issues of inclusion and diversity. College campuses all over the country are increasing this discussion, and Hodges stated that he believes that it is our duty as a campus to give students a voice of their own.
“It is my role to listen rather than simply speak,” Hodges said. “We are in the process of developing strategies to not only create a strategy for this year, but also to explore how we can promote, respect, and love within the upcoming conversations and debates.”
While a great amount of power lies within Hodges’ and AS’ hands, Hodges expressed that it is just as important for the entirety of the student body to get involved.
“I’m looking forward to an increased student voice,” Hodges said. “I believe that we have an energetic and exceptional student body this year that will not back down from sharing their opinions and desires, but will also be great supporters of our university.”
With the whole year ahead, Hodges has been spending the first few weeks back planning and preparing for a productive year. Along with efforts to improve financial spending, increase school spirit, and empower the conversation about inclusion and diversity, the new AS President shared that he hopes to see a greater student turnout toward making USD the best it can be.
Written by Abby Gentry, Asst News Editor