La Verne Magazine
"The University of La Verne: A Day in the Life"
Supporting Student Life
by Amy Borer
photography by Shelby Wertz
With brows furrowed in concentration, ASF Vice President Dan Lougheed,
President Tracey Landisi and forum member Jesse Moreno discuss Nov. 9 Homecoming
plans.. Meeting every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the West Dining Room, ASF
is re-evaluating current activities and its constitution to better serve
Freshman John McFarland had a vision in 1970 of turning the existing
form of student body government at the University of La Verne, led by a
single president, into a legislative forum of 12 equal peers. In 1996, Rev.
John McFarland is disheartened to hear that the system he so proudly helped
create has reverted back to what it once was.
"When I was a freshman, you'd have two dedicated students running
[for president of the student body], but only one could win and get into
government," he says. "Our purpose was to make sure everyone interested
in student government got the chance to run."
By the 1972 academic year, McFarland had set up a system in which many
students would run for the Associate Students Federation (ASF) Forum, and
the 12 who received the most votes would be elected. Instead of a student
running for president, the forum would select one of its own members to
lead the Forum as a chairman. All 12 members would hold equal power. "Our
goal was to eliminate the competition between two people," says McFarland.
"Under the new system, the 13th person lost to a whole body of people,
not just one individual on campus." According to McFarland, this structure
was a success, and approximately 25 people ran for the forum in its first
But 24 years have passed since that first election, and policies certainly
have changed. The ASF Forum still exists on campus, but it is not the animal
that McFarland created.
While there are still 12 seats on the Forum, each year elections are
held for each position on ASF, and the winners of these elections in turn
become the Forum.
Not only is this system opposite the one McFarland set up, it contradicts
the bylaws he wrote for the Constitution."It's wrong," he says.
"Unless the bylaws have been rewritten, it goes against what we originally
Even though the structure of the ASF Forum has changed over the years,
the goal of the group remains basically the same: to be advocates for the
According to Landisi, the purpose of today's forum is "to use the
money from student activity fees in the best way possible to benefit the
most students possible."
Junior Dan Lougheed, vice president, agrees with Landisi's statement
but adds another aspect."We're here to represent students and act as
advocates," he says. "We're students, too, so we know the concerns
and what students like. It's our job to see that the money students spend
on activity fees is spent well."
In the infant years of the ASF Forum, the main concern was on student
issues, and spending money was only an afterthought. "Our job was to
deal with student issues in relation to campus life," says McFarland.
"We were concerned with things like dorm rules, chapel rules and student/faculty
relations. We tried to better student life by sponsoring dances and helping
to build the new gym, but money wasn't our main concern. Instead of saying,
'OK, we have so much money, what should we do with it?' we decided what
needed to be done and how we could make it happen with the money we had."
As Lougheed admits, the reputation of ASF has changed in the past couple
of years, but this year's Forum is trying to recreate the image. "The
past couple of years, ASF has gotten a reputation for just putting on parties
and activities," he says. "This year we're trying to address students'
concerns and encourage more political involvement."
One way that ASF is trying to be an advocate for students is with a
newly installed hotline, designed as a way for students to voice any concern
or problem they have with the University. As Landisi explains it, when a
student calls the hotline, she can leave a message explaining the specifics
of her problem. Then, ASF will follow up with a phone call or a letter to
the student, directing her to someone with serious answers to the questions,
or will represent the student if applicable. "One of our main things
is to always get the opinion of Joe Blow student," says Landisi. "We
want to engage people, and it's hard to do that just through meetings and
Traditionally, student input was gained by the Forum in these two ways.
Aside from the hotline, a political action committee, comprised of five
Forum members and headed by senior Scott Mac Kay has also been added to
address student concerns. The committee is trying to knock out the main
problems of students, such as the food on campus, parking and residence
hall issues. "If they [students] vent to us, maybe we can do something
about it," says Landisi.
Yet, according to Landisi, the main problem with these new programs
is lack of student involvement. Since the hotline went into effect in September,
there have been no calls.
McFarland says that apathy is not a new phenomenon at the University.
"What I saw when I started was very similar to what you have now,"
he says. But the difference was that students in 1972 were just waiting
to get involved. "Students of that era were searching for meaning,"
As the current Forum tries to encourage student involvement, many changes
are in store for the group this year. Most visibly, the group is re-evaluating
the activities it sponsors each year to ensure that it spends its money
in the best possible way. The Forum has also created a task force to change
the existing Constitution.
"A lot of things in the Constitution ASF and the students have
voted out," says Landisi. The new Constitution, which should go up
for the student body vote in the spring, will create a firm money allocation
process, stiffer guidelines for the election process and consistency in
the writing of the Constitution itself.
"We have a strong foundation for the future," Landisi says.
"Students know what we're doing, and the campus publications keep us
on track. They let us know we can't get away with inconsistencies in money
allocation and rules in general.
"We were just flying by the seat of our pants two years ago, and
now we have structure."
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