Winner of the race: Jesse Randel on winning the A.S. presidency

On Friday, Jesse Randel won the presidential seat of the Associated Students by the razor-sharp margin of 10 votes. It was a memorable victory that came just as Randel was leaving Los Angeles to spend spring break back home in Georgia. On Monday night Randel found himself delayed at an Atlanta airport on his way back to California but still took some time to discuss via e-mail his new role on campus and the hard work that lies ahead.

What was it like finding out that you had won the elections? How did you find out?

Honestly, I was shocked. I was at the Denver airport flying home on short notice, and I started getting texts and messages congratulating me. It was truly a watershed moment for me.

What do you think the voting percentage by which you won says about the campaign and how you ran it?

The narrow margin speaks volumes about the quality of my competition and the excellence of their campaigns. I worked so hard on this campaign, and it just goes to show you that every single little bit of effort can make or break you. I also had excellent slate members, without whom I would not have stood a chance.

How are you going to prepare now to assume power?

I feel the best way to prepare for the presidency is to shadow the current president, Ali Khan. He's a very smart guy who knows how the system works and how to get stuff done. I can't wait to absorb what he's learned over his term in office, and that combined with my leadership experience in the military will prepare me for the job as much as possible.

What is the key piece of legislation you hope to see passed during your tenure?

I am going to work as hard as I can to expand the work study program and scholarships on a non-federally funded basis so that EVERY student at SMC has the same opportunities for success, citizenship or financial background notwithstanding. That is what originally inspired me to run for office, and that is what I will work to accomplish. We have a great start with the Student Success Award, but we need to keep moving forward.

Will you have people call you "Mr. President?"

Absolutely not. I'm no different from any other student at this school, and I'm not here to serve my own ego. Jesse is fine.

What is the key thing you think demands immediate change at SMC?

The fact that most students have no idea what benefits they receive from being members of the Associated Students is simply unacceptable. We must do a better job of reaching out to the student body and ensuring that they know of all the tools they have at their disposal. Also, veteran performance at this school is not great, and the dropout rate is high. Securing a new office, or perhaps a house, strictly for veterans so they have a quiet, private place to meet with counselors and study outside the hustle and bustle of the campus is one step we could take to help resolve this issue.

What is your opinion on the ongoing construction on campus?

Progress is messy sometimes. There is a lot of work to be done to improve this school, and when it does get completed our school will be not only nicer, but more eco-friendly as well. It is important to remember the students that will come after us. It might not be pleasant right now, but we are ensuring a brighter, greener campus for our future fellow alumni.

What is the greatest threat being faced by students seeking to transfer to a major university from SMC and how would you address the issue?

I think the greatest threat students face is entering the transfer process unprepared and unsure of the right steps they need to take to get to where they want be. Again, something we as the board of directors can do to rectify this is to better market the benefits and tools that are available to them through Associated Students. By the time a student is ready to transfer, he or she should already know who to talk to, what paperwork they need to have ready, and the dates and deadlines for all of it. Students also need to be educated on the different challenges a major university poses as opposed to SMC, for example UCLA being a research institution, or USC being a private school.

Q: What will you do your first day in office?

I plan to get everyone on the new board of directors excited about the influence they can and will have on the student body! It's going to be a great year, and a busy one. A good jump off the line sets the tone, and positive steps forward start with positive, eager mindsets.

How do you think being president might affect your friendships and other social connections on campus?

To be honest, I don't have a whole lot of social connections on campus so I doubt it will affect it much at all. I'm a student first and I came here with the goal of making good grades and succeeding, not being popular. I enjoy my interaction with fellow classmates, but I'm not here to hang out, I'm here to work, and that's what I'm going to do.