by Sergio Mercado
On Aug. 9, students representing CI attended CSUnity, a virtual conference, to learn about leadership and advocacy in the California State University system.
CSUnity is an annual conference held by the California State Student Association (CSSA), an organization comprised of student leaders from all 23 CSU campuses. CSSA focuses on empowering student voices and ensuring the inclusion of student voices in higher education issues. While most students become involved in CSSA through student government, this is not a requirement. CSSA is open to all students interested in leadership, and it holds CSUnity as a way to prepare students to be effective advocates and inform them of pressing issues in the CSU system.
Each year, CSUnity covers a range of topics relevant to CSU students. Due to the the pandemic, CSUnity was held virtually this year. This, however, did not stop CSSA from covering several important topics. This year, sessions included talks about adapting to the virtual environment and maintaining student engagement, as well as “Race, Privilege and Inclusion in the California State University,” according to the CSUnity website.
Another important aspect of CSUnity is the opportunity to network. CSUnity connects student leaders from different campuses, thus promoting unity and collaboration among different CSU campuses. Senior sociology major and CI Student Government President Sophie Nguyen told The CI View, “The conference is an incredible opportunity to network and build community with fellow CSU students.”
Despite its focus on student leadership, CSUnity is open to any CSU student interested in student advocacy—regardless of year, major or involvement in Student Government. Leadership skills and knowledge about current CSU issues can help almost any student. Nguyen said, “The skills and insight regarding advocacy can be extremely valuable for students pursuing a wide variety of fields.”
Although CSUnity 2020 has already passed, there are still several opportunities available for students interested in getting involved in advocacy and student leadership. Through CI’s student government, students can take part in the Student Government Internship Program to gain experience. “Students get to work alongside the executive team and senators on student initiatives and resolutions focused on social justice, sustainability, wellness, recreation and other student affairs,” Nguyen said.
In addition, students who want to explore student initiatives on the state and local level can join Student Government’s Lobby Corps program, where students work with an executive team and state representatives to discuss student initiatives. For those interested in issues concerning CSUs, monthly CSSA plenary meetings are a great opportunity to get involved. Nguyen said, “Students are invited and encouraged to apply to join these meetings as they are a unique opportunity to gain insight on CSU-wide advocacy.”
Students who wish to learn more about advocacy and leadership should reach out to Student Government. More information about CSSA meetings, the Student Government Internship Program and Lobby Corps can be found at https://studentgov.csuci.edu/. For any questions regarding advocacy opportunities, please email SGASI@csuci.edu