KAMP Interview Series 2023: Alyssa Sanchez
Interviewer: Sophia Troetel
Interviewee: Alyssa Sanchez
Date Interviewed: April 14, 2023
Edited By: Liam Larkin-Smith
Link to Youtube Upload: None, someone else was using the KAMP camera :(
Link to Sound Cloud Audio: https://on.soundcloud.com/UJGxD
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Sophia: Hello. Thank you for tuning in to KAMP Student Radio. Sorry for our late start. This is the KAMP Interview series. I'm your host Sophia Troetel. Today interviewing
Alyssa: Hello, my name is Alyssa Sanchez, and I'm the incoming student body president at the University of Arizona.
Sophia: Hi, Alyssa. Thank you for coming on the show. Greatly appreciate it. As University of Arizona students, we may hear the term ASUA thrown around loosely, but the real question is what does it stand for? What does it mean? What do you do?
Alyssa: Well, for starters, it stands for the Associated Students at the University of Arizona. We're the student government. We are an advocacy group just made of students just like you and me. And our biggest job, our biggest mission, is to be your advocates.
Sophia: What would you like the University of Arizona's students to know about the ASUA and their student government?
Alyssa: Actually, in regards to ASUA, the vision has always been to make each other leaders, empower each other into becoming better at what our skills currently are. I want us to be able to also to develop our skills and take that into whatever opportunity we can in the future. It's not-it's not to just build a community, it's also to- I don't know how to say this- it's to build a community, one that is inclusive of different people's background, backgrounds, different people's perspectives. It's to also make each other leaders with all of our respected backgrounds. There's. Did this question also include what you wanted to know what it's made out of? Because we have different sectors of ASUA.
Sophia: Yes. Divulge on that a little as well. Thank you.
Alyssa: Yes. So there's three executives, executive positions, which are the president, AVP, and EVP. There are also college senators for every single college that's their representative in what each one of those colleges would possibly need. Again, we're all advocates. And then there's the Supreme Court. And those are all positions that are available on handshake. That's how you get to them. But other than that, anyone can kind of join. There's an open space where people could come in and just sit, eat their lunch, talk to people, and just get to know us, too.
Sophia: So you feel like the ASUA could offer something to every student at the University of Arizona?
Alyssa: Yeah, I believe so. Yeah.
Sophia: How can students individually become involved with the organizations at the ASUA?
Alyssa: Um, I think we can become involved, I think everyone can become the same way I became involved. I just started going to the mayor and city council meetings because the old and still current ASUA student body president is Patrick, and he would invite students to go to the mayor and city council meetings to advocate for free fare transit. And so that's a really easy way because you don't have to sign up for anything. You don't have to commit yourself in any way where it's like a weekly thing. You can just go and you can advocate for something you would like. So fare free transit.And then another way to become involved is if you can run for a senator of your respective college.
Sophia: How's that process like?
Alyssa: That process is it's the same way as mine was. You have to get approved, you have to get signatures to be put on the bill to be elected. So all these are elected people as well. And then after that, there's more to it, but the senator role itself is changing. Next semester, they're becoming more involved with ASUA. In the future I'm going to have a meeting in thevery near future, I'm going to have a meeting of what that looks like and how those dynamics are going to change.
Sophia: And which organization under the pretty wide umbrella of ASUA would you say is your personal favorite?
Alyssa: Oh, man, I don't think I have a personal favorite just because I feel like all the organizations under ASUA, which are listed in the About Us section, Who We Are section of the homepage, I feel like all of them are really important because it gives a lot of resources where our state may fail. So I feel like it's really nice that Force, which is housed in the WGRC, is able to provide feminist pharmacy because in Arizona, Roe v. Wade got overturned in the summer. And then food insecurity, which is handled by Campus Pantry and then also gender affirming clothes, which is given by Queer Closet or given also, hopefully in the future by Campus Closet. I feel like they're all very important in different areas, and I really can't choose a favorite, if that makes sense.
Sophia: Oh, I absolutely understand. Speaking on behalf of my roommate, I think we'd have to say probably Safe Ride as a personal favorite. Just their work is so important.
Sophia: On to the next question. How did you first hear about the ASUA when you were a freshman at the school?
Alyssa: Um is it okay? This one has a lot of background to it that I feel comfortable enough to share, but if you're okay to hear?
Sophia: Absolutely. I wrote it down because it was really personal. I was volunteering with Mission Perezona over the summer, and it's just because voter registration in Spanish, it was scarce at the time, and it was very hard to get to all of Arizona. And then it was even harder if you didn't feel comfortable reading or speaking in English, and it was harder to ask for help in Spanish. So I was working with them, and it was amazing. I loved that job so much, but there weren't any clubs that directly correlated with that on campus. So I got directed to some interest groups that were similar, but they weren't Spanish oriented, but they were still advocacy oriented, which I really liked, and so I was able to do that. And then one day, Patrick goes to one of those club meetings, and he's saying he just states his mission, what he's about, and then he says, I was wondering if you guys could sign this so that I could be on the petition to run for president of ASUA, the student body government here. And I never heard of it before that. And so, I followed the Instagram because I found it, because. It was really nice to see someone that came from such a similar background and that also they worked with a lot of the same groups. They worked with a lot of the same community, and I worked with that community my entire life. So being able to see someone that was similar in a position I'd never seen myself in, it just made me interested. I was like, I wonder what ASUA is about. I wonder what they can do. And then my brother got hired as the videographer, and so he's been their videographer ever since then. And so because of that, I was able to also see behind the scenes of a lot of their events and a lot of the stuff they do. And it made me stop questioning what could they do more like, what could I do? And so from that, I wanted to be able to take that alliance. I want to be able to take that passion and kind of put it into a position further. I'm a pretty shy person for the most part, and I'm working on it every day. But I didn't want to just empower the leader. I wanted to more be the leader. So that's how I became involved.
Sophia: I have to say, I was personally empowered when I saw you marching on campus today in the protest. I have to say that was very brave and I think inspiring.
Alyssa: Thank you. I really appreciate that.
Sophia: And to sort of move the questions along, I would like to talk a little bit about the WGRC and the Feminist Pharmacy because of the extremely important work that they do out of all of the different cultural resource centers. I have to say, as a woman, I feel like it's such an important organization that the school offers. I just wanted to hear your input on the value, especially with the recent protests that we've seen on campus.
Alyssa: Right. The recent protests on campus I feel was absolutely necessary because I think being able to show so much misinformation in the middle of campus was quite triggering and traumatizing for a lot of people. And the WGRC stepped up entirely. They offered a coffee and counseling hour during that time. Like I got, I was able to see students come in, and when they needed that automatic help, it was automatically supported. That was amazing. And I didn't know we could be all so collectively together on such an issue until now. I thought that was incredible. I also think in regards to Feminist Pharmacy, it really does pick up where our state could lack in certain issues and where our state does lack in those issues. And so as a person with a uterus, when I don't have general information about what could happen if I were to take like a Plan B. And so when you go there, there's a director that's very helpful, and they always tell you, hey, make sure to drink water. Have you eaten? These will be the side effects, just letting you know. And then they will just help you, no questions asked or anything. So I think being able to have that resource and being able to utilize it as a person with the uterus is incredible. And I'm not able to see myself having that outside of my university. So I think that's amazing.
Sophia: I absolutely agree. Also as a person with the uterus, I feel like when I came to this school, I was really searching for these ways that I could find not only community in womanhood like I have in some of these organizations like Force and the WGRC, but also the fact that they offer these tools when our own dorms may lack them. The fact that one of my friends in my dorm had to beg an RA for a pregnancy test when they give them out for free, no questions asked at the WGRC, is just why I feel like it's one of the most important organizations of ASUA. Additionally, I wanted to discuss campus pantry and campus closet with you.
Alyssa: What is your question?
Sophia: In general, how can students benefit from these organizations? And if they want to donate, how can they get involved?
Alyssa: Okay, I would really like to talk about Campus Pantry first, if that's okay.
Alyssa: So it's really important to acknowledge that Snap benefits were allocated to students during the pandemic. And that's because our government started recognizing that people are becoming houseless, people are losing their jobs, people cannot afford basic things. So let's help some college students. And so we were able to get that the restrictions on that are becoming stricter, which is hard. And so we have, like, Campus Pantry where they help battle food insecurity firsthand. And so it's really nice because when you go to their website automatically, it has a button, say, click here for what we need automatically. And so you're able to donate through in person when they're out there doing their events. There's also donation opportunities during that time, too. And then you could donate online. You could donate monetarily and send the money to ASUA, and then that goes straight to them. And then they even have, like, a mail opportunity where you can mail it to a certain location. It's really accessible and it's really amazing. And I think it's. Essential for anything in regards to campus closet as well. I think that's incredible because let's say you have a job, internship, you're a student, you're already working on your classes. A lot of students, most of them have a second job, and sometimes they have two jobs. It's just it's really hard to be able to afford anything in today's economy. Um, it's almost impossible to do it without working so much all the time. When do you have time to go out and get clothes? When do you have time to even afford, not have time. But a lot of people can't even afford these things. So being able to use a cat card and using their point system that they have and being able to get it while it's here on campus is again, an incredible thing. I think it's essential, and I really hope that they're able to expand further with, knowing that this is a resource. But it's also a resource students shouldn't feel any type of shame going to that. They should feel very open and comfortable and know that everyone needs this.
Sophia: Absolutely. So in some ways, you feel like the ASUA is filling the gaps that the university leaves for students who may not have access to things like business attire.
Alyssa: I feel like they became an organization under us, but because of who they are, they've just really taken off. And so because they've asked for money when they need it or resources when they need it, not only from us, but also the community, that's how they became so prominent. It's because of who they are. They've just really outshine themselves.
Sophia: Absolutely. And how long have you been personally involved with the ASUA? Was your experience with Patrick freshman year?
Alyssa: I took a gap semester to work so I could go to college. And then I came here, and then the pandemic happened, so I haven't really known about it. And then I stayed home to take care of my great grandma that is passed now, but while she was here, I was helping taking care of her while staying online. And so my experience is just through watching. I think I've been on campus physically for about a year now, and so during that time, that's where I garnered my experience by first going to those mayor and city council meetings. But this is my first time being in a role in a position.
Sophia: And you're the president.
Alyssa: Yeah. Thank you.
Sophia: Are you excited for your new role?
Alyssa: I'm very excited. I'm coming into a realization of what it is and what it means to other people too, because I was able to go to my old school, one of my old schools, and it's not in the best area, and usually kids from the area don't make it out of that. And so I was able to go there and tell them, one, I graduated high school, which, like, not really expected to, and two, I went to college, and then now I'm running for this position, and I won. You guys can do that too. So my position, I feel like I'm going to work my hardest to make it really proud because I don't want to be from this and then do nothing with it.
Sophia: No, it's absolutely inspirational. Thank you. And I just wanted to know what direction you would personally like to take ASUA with your presidency? Any changes you plan to enact?
Alyssa: Biggest changes. I have to still find that out because I want to definitely continue the fare free transit. I think without the student government's advocacy, constant advocacy, it's going to be really hard to continue that. So that's one of my main goals. Another goal is just to try to keep good connections. There's a lot happening on campus, and so it's really important for me to keep these doors open with administration and to have those conversations. Because I don’t know how to say this, things bother me to my core, but I cannot always show this. And even though they do bother me, I have to keep the door open for not only myself, my team, but also the people coming after us in order to have meetings to make progress happen. Because they're the administration is the people that makes it happen.
Sophia: Absolutely. It's like, don't accept what you can't change. Change what you can't accept. And personally, your story is just really awe inspiring. And to keep those doors open with administration is honestly hard. Knowing some of the barriers they put up to some of the cultural resource centers, like the recent firing of some employees within the Cultural Resource Center, how do you plan to prevent meant blockage, maintain inclusivity at the university?
Alyssa: My position, I'm an advocate. Those changes were going to happen. I don't think, to my knowledge, anyone has been fired this semester because there was supposed to be, but that the Cultural Resource Centers got moved under Dr. Marano, and so that isn't happening anymore. And if there are big changes like that happening, they're going to happen without me knowing about them. They're going to happen without any of my approval, because I'm the student body's advocate. I'm not administration. So it is unfortunate when stuff like that does happen. It didn't happen, which I'm really happy about, but unfortunately, I don't have enough power or control to take care of that, if that makes sense.
Sophia: Right, absolutely. But you are a voice for the students, and we absolutely appreciate your work.
Alyssa: Thank you.
Sophia: And to change the subject a little, I wanted to ask about your favorite memory of working within the ASUA.
Alyssa: This is my first position within the ASUA. I'm not sworn in yet, but I do get sworn on the first of May.
Sophia: Or sort of campaigning?
Alyssa: For sure, campaigning. I think, again, I'm a bit more of a quiet person, so I was able to really listen to people and find out why they're passionate about what they do. Being able to even be in that seat and able to listen to that story, I feel like was such a privilege. And so I think learning everyone's different prerogative or why they started what they started, or why they're continuing to do what they do, I thought that was beautiful. And so I think that's my favorite and most irreplaceable like memory ever, I will probably have for the rest of my life.
Sophia: Absolutely. And I wanted to go back a little bit to the structure of the ASUA government. Can you tell me about meetings between the ASUA senators and the Supreme Court of the ASUA?
Alyssa: This is the part I wrote down specifically, just so I can, I don't want to mess up anything.
Sophia: No, absolutely.
Alyssa: Okay, so we have our Senators. It is a representative from every college that is elected, every college that has someone that runs, they go up for election, and then someone wins. So their duty of the Senate is to represent their respective college as leaders. The Senate has weekly meetings that students are allowed to come to for whatever they need, whatever they want, really. It's open for the student public. The record of the meetings are also made public just for transparency reasons. And then senators also approve a balanced operating budget that is submitted by the President of ASUA. But it has to be in coordinates with the Constitution. Senators are also changing their dynamic next semester. So they're going to be utilized a bit more in unique ways. I'm sorry. And so I hope to get some more first hand experience with them so that they can help their individual colleges and those weekly meetings that they have that are open to the public the EVP, ABP and President also attend those. So we're constantly in the loop about what they're doing.
Sophia: Where do those meetings take place and when?
Alyssa: They're on the third floor of the student union. As of right now, I believe they're in the Kiva Room. Oh, no. Kiva room is the first floor. I'm sorry, but it's right there in the first floor. The third floor. You go in and then automatically to the right where they have the printer and all the desks. It's that room. Anyone’s welcome to it. And then the ACUA Supreme Court. They have jurisdictions over all appropriate matters concerning benign campus organizations, election disputes, and ASUA governmental affairs.
Sophia: Okay, thank you so much. And then I wanted to talk about misconceptions.
Sophia: There are a lot of misconceptions, I feel, that may surround the ASUA, what they do. Their role is at the university. So I wanted to ask you, if you could dismantle one big rumor swirling around, what would it be?
Alyssa: I think it's the extent of our power. It's something I had to learn too, as, like, going from student to position. I think most people tend to think that, and I thought this too, that ASUA is the end all, be all with policy changes made here on campus. We're a student government. We're made of students. That's what we are. And although our work is very essential and although we advocate, we cannot make changes that the dean of students can make. We cannot make changes that are higher ups, that we are able to meet through those good connections and good relationships. We're unable to make the power and decisions that they do. And so I feel like that's the biggest misconception that people have is that all that is synonymous, when really there's just a whole ranking of how it actually works. And so we advocate that's our biggest thing. But we are not policy changers-makers.
Sophia: Absolutely understandable. Also, to go back to your point about free transportation, it is so key, especially when a lot of first year students don't have access to, say, cars or transportation. Especially when Tucson is not a very walkable city.
Sophia: Did you ever live on campus?
Alyssa: No, I have not lived on campus. I used to live in central Tucson. Right there.
Sophia: Did you commute to campus? Yes. So you understand how big car culture is in Tucson?
Alyssa: Car culture is unavoidable in Tucson.
Sophia: Honestly, the US.
Alyssa: Yeah. The infrastructure with that is crazy.
Sophia: That's a whole nother discussion.
Alyssa: Yeah. Oh, my goodness. It's almost impossible. And then. City bus passes aren't something that students should be required to buy. I think it's really nice that the SunLink is free and where I'm going to continue to advocate to make it free. There's a rally on Tuesday, actually, that students are welcome to come to it's in front of Tucson City Hall. And it's literally just to talk about why free fare transit matters to you and talk about the importance of it because finally people are really starting to listen to us and understand that 84, I think I believe it's 84% of riders are using the SunLink are students.
Sophia: And the students.
Sophia: No. Every time I get on the sun, like, even taking it to downtown, I see the majority
Alyssa: It’s students from what I see, too.
Sophia: And I do feel like students would be less incentivized to use it if we had to pay the fare every single time. So your advocacy work is highly appreciated here. My roommate, definitely, she's listening in and she's grateful for you.
Alyssa: How do you enjoy the SunLink? How do you utilize it as another person?
Sophia: For me, the SunLink is a privilege I'm extremely grateful for. One of my classes I have three times a week is housed in the Giddings building, which is a pretty far walk. So a lot of the times I meet my friends on University and I take the SunLink, immediately after class from that Cherry Street stop. Having to walk in the sun, especially now. I wouldn't complain about it because I do really like sunshine and warmth, but for some people, it's not their favorite, the 20 minutes walk in the heat.
Alyssa: Yeah. But it could be really bad for some students with underlying medical conditions. I feel like we need to continue it and we need to have it as just like a basic need.
Sophia: Plus it’s one of the most direct routes to downtown Tucson. It's so key and crucial. I was going to ask about advice that you would give to rising freshmen, but first I'd like to start with what advice you would give yourself when you first began at the university.
Alyssa: Ask for help when you need it. That's been an issue my entire life. And it's something very common with a lot of the Latina community, is that we will take a lot of our faults and put it like, that was me. That happened because of me. But a lot of time it's because we couldn't ask. And so it's something like all of my family struggles with, and I especially so I think it's definitely to just ask for help when you absolutely need it. Do not feel ashamed to do that. I also give that advice to all freshmen because it's really hard. A lot of freshmen are unable to learn how to navigate, especially when they're moving away from home, and they don't have they don't have that familiarity, and they have to build it all over again. It's hard enough to do that while also taking on college classes for the first time. And so I think going out, reaching out when you absolutely need it is, like, the most essential thing.
Sophia: Absolutely. Especially with mental health services like Caps that are offered on campus to take advantage of those. I have never personally utilized Caps services. And we had a presentation in my English class, and one of the students gave a whole presentation on Caps and how to access it. And it's honestly such a necessary tool, especially when mental health is such a prominent issue in our age group and demographic. So I was just curious as to just how ASUA can help better, well, just students' mental health? I don't know of a specific organization that has support systems for students other than, say, the WGRC has a meditation room.
Alyssa: Right. So it's really nice because the current EVP, Nico, he sends out a newsletter, and then they also started setting up the weekly resources of what's going on this week, who's providing it, and then, like, the constant resources that are there. So I think being transparent and knowing that, hey, every culture and resource center, if you go, you'll find out. But I think have your information all in one place would be really nice. They have, like, in-house counselors. There's also more programs that people should know about, like Wildcats Anonymous, and it helps students that are battling addiction issues. I think that's a huge part of mental health that's never talked about.
Alyssa: And so I think bringing more light to those kinds of services, those kinds of student run organizations, I think that would help a lot more. And that's how we can assist with that newsletter. And then also being like in that weekly post of, hey, here's what's provided, stuff like that. More stuff like that.
Sophia: Absolutely. As a student who is utilizing ASUA services on a daily or near daily basis, I'm curious as to organizations that you would like to see spring out from the ASUA organizations
Alyssa: Springing out from ASUA…
Sophia: Organizations you would like to see created under the umbrella.
Alyssa: I think the biggest one for me is just; I hope Students For Sustainability can expand more, especially with how they get so I actually just had a meeting about this this week, but there's this group that receives I forgot the acronym at the moment, but they receive and look out for funding and they give out that funding to certain different sectors all over campus. And it has to mainly do with sustainability, but there can be different circumstances where they are also to give out that funding to. I would like to see something like that a bit more because I do know our school already looks for funding in certain areas. But if there were to be something created with more specific needs like the LGBTQ Plus Center is being moved but they weren't able to get four walls to cover all that and so it was moved closer to the WGRC, which is nice because they're in constant communication, but maybe they should have all their walls. And so because that wasn't be able to afford it on time, they were able to get funding from the interest group on time. And so I think being able to find something like that and expand it more would be really really awesome.
Sophia: Absolutely. And I personally was so excited for this interview.
Alyssa: Thank you.
Sophia: You're welcome. Because not only meeting our future student body president, which is a huge honor, may I just say, but also because I feel like a lot of students on this campus don't understand how many resources they have at their fingertips. With just a cat card. You can get free eggs, you can get free milk, you can get a free blazer for your interview. You can take the SunLink for free. You can get free tampons, menstrual pads, anything that you need with the cat card. And I feel like so many students don't even recognize the opportunities. It's all thanks to the ASUA.
Alyssa: Yeah, well, it's also thanks to so many passionate students that are in these programs. I think that's the biggest thing is that those who do run in ASUA, they are extremely passionate about what they do, representing their colleges, and just at the end of the day, helping students, because that's what we're all trying to do. We're trying to all help our own community. And we're our community.
Sophia: We're all Wildcats, united by our school and by each other.
Alyssa: Yes, for sure. And I personally am so excited to see how your presidency unfolds, and I'm wishing you nothing but the best.
Alyssa: Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Sophia: Of course. This has been the KAMP interview series. Thank you for tuning in to KAMP Student Radio. And tune in next week to enjoy the Tom Fleming interview, the final interview of the semester. Thank you.
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