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New ASUA president details plans for 2017-2018 academic year

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat

2017-2018 ASUA President and economics and political science major Matt Lubisich poses for a picture in his future office on March 21.

*Editor's Note: This article appeared in the Daily Wildcat's 2017 Orientation Guide.

Matt Lubisich, political science and economics senior and current Associated Students of the University of Arizona student body president, has envisioned many projects to undertake throughout his term.

ASUA is comprised of three branches. The administrative branch handles programs and services, like Spring Fling, Pride Alliance and SafeRide. The executive branch handles clubs and club funding. The presidential branch, known as the cabinet, oversees two programs, ZonaZoo and the Wildcat Events Board. 

The Wildcat Events Board puts on concerts and schedules speakers, while ZonaZoo is the student section for UA athletics.

The cabinet has 20 senators: three at-large senators, who represent the entire student body, and 17 who each represent a college. It’s also Lubisich’s branch.

“I’m basically the voice for students,” Lubisich said. “What I do is meet with administrators. I discuss student issues and what our student agenda is. I advocate for students to administrators.”

One of these projects includes revamping AdvoCATS, UA’s group of students and alumni who lobby at the Arizona legislature to encourage support for the university.

“We’re going to be at the state legislature a lot, meeting with individual state representatives who don’t believe in funding education,” Lubisich said. “We want to get in a room with them, ask ‘why?’ and have those conversations.”

Another project involves working with DACA students on campus to establish scholarships for DREAMers—though Lubisich said that’s not his cause to champion but rather those who brought it to his attention.

RELATED: ASUA student government addresses UA student concerns

“They have no access to federal aid, grants ... anything like that,” Lubisich said. “They’re very passionate about this subject, and they want me to help them carry the torch with them to make this possible.”

Lubisich said he has met with administrators in the past few weeks to talk about the feasibility of their ideas.

“There are some state laws that kind of prohibit this, and we’re trying to find ways to work around it, because we know that ASU does it,” he said.

Another one of Lubisich’s objectives focuses on holding the UA accountable for how they spend student fee money and making sure student’s voices are heard in regard to that spending.

“That’s student money, so how are you going to give benefits to students?” Lubisich said. “I want to get students in that process.”

Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost, said that with such a large campus, representing and engaging all students can be a tricky task.

“I think there are many, many different kinds and types of students at the UA, and I don’t just mean the usual set of diversity kinds of things,” Comrie said. “There are students of all different kinds of abilities and financial backgrounds, as well as the huge range of colleges and majors and everything else. That’s a constant challenge for an organization.”

Lubisich mentioned that, beside the challenge of representation, he hears students saying ASUA isn’t active enough in the community.

RELATED: ASUA hosts internship, engagement opportunities

“That’s something I’m really going to work on this year,” Lubisich said. “I’m going to be at a lot of events that the student body president doesn’t usually go to. I want to set a new precedent for the people who come after me.”

With that goal in mind, Lubisich said ASUA’s social media will be reconfigured as well.

“I think the quality of our social media has been lagging over the past couple years, so my goal is to make it so people want to follow us, want to stay updated,” Lubisich said. “We have a Twitter account that Mikey [Finnegan] made the year before me that I took over, and I’ve been trying to gain more followers.”

Comrie said another challenge Lubisich will face are the transitional adjustments needed to work alongside the UA’s new president, Dr. Robert Robbins.

“He’ll be the first student leadership to deal with the new president, and the new president will be learning about the UA at the same time,” Comrie said. “They’ll both be new and both be learning it together, so I think that will be really as much fun as anything else.”

Lubisich has not yet met with Robbins, but he said he will do so over the summer.

“This is an unbelievable time for me and ASUA and students in general,” Lubisich said. “We have a new university president shifting the culture, and that’s so exciting. My goal is to establish that relationship and really show him that the student voice matters.”

Reaching that goal means meeting with Robbins as much as possible, according to Lubisich, and making sure Robbins relies on Lubisich and other student leaders to hear student opinions.

“Obviously, the presidential transition is huge,” Lubisich said. “We want to make [Robbins] see that ASUA, student leaders and students on this campus are a top priority. We want to bring back that culture to the administration—to Dr. Robbins—because that starts with him.”


Follow Marissa Heffernan on Twitter.



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