ALBUS WANG WRITES – Sam Cassidy sits with a determined look, poised, and glowing with enthusiasm. I press the record button, scribbling away as I hear about Cassidy’s platform for the Associated Students of Loyola Marymount (ASLMU) 2019 Presidential elections.
I first met Cassidy as the secretary of Gender Sexuality Alliance, an organization for LGBTQ students on campus. Cassidy has always worked towards change and has even pushed the ASLMU senate to pass “Intersectionality and Identities Resolution” earlier this year. The Resolution urges the administration to “cultivate community, communication, and coalition building between the leadership and activists of the cultural organizations of Ethnic and Intercultural Student Services with proper representation from activists within ASLMU and the foster/homeless, neurodiverse, international, and undocumented student communities on campus.”
Now, Cassidy and running mate Camila De Pierola are running with multiple platforms, including Lion Dollar Donor Initiative, an Ethnic Intercultural Services (EIS) Leadership Council, and a Creative Development Network.
The student activist’s passion for social change extends past LMU. In the past, Cassidy worked as a group therapist for LGBTQ youth, presented at mental health conferences across the west coast, and had helped shape statewide policy for homeless youth in Oregon by working with Early Assessment and Support Alliance, and led a rally after the public safety department failed to inform students about an active shooter on campus, eventually drawing both the chief of the department and the president to work on measures that will improve protocol.
When I asked, “why do you want to run for student body president?” Cassidy responded, “I feel a lot of students at LMU suffer from a plethora of issues that can resolve if the administration is more active to hear students’ concerns.” Hence, Cassidy is running on a campaign based on making an immediate change that students can see.
One of the things Cassidy is referring to is the food insecurity among students. While some have a hard time securing food, others don’t know what to do with unused Lion Dollars. For this, the candidate team is proposing a system for easy Lion Dollar transaction. The team drafted the Lion Dollar Donor Initiative, which would allow students to donate excess Lion Dollars they have left over into a collective fund. From the fund, students in need could acquire gift cards to pay for food they’d otherwise face difficulty purchasing. The system is intuitive and practical. It would reduce students’ stress around food and promote the sense of community by allowing support towards each other.
Cassidy wants different communities to connect better. The campaign platform, Ignite the Impact, believes that “every person on this campus has distinct traits about them and there are a lot of aspects of our identities that the university does not acknowledge.”
As a community leader myself, I too found this 142-acre school to be divided. An EIS Leadership Council is Cassidy’s resolution. Cassidy had been working with all directors of Ethnic and Intercultural Services for months, to give some organizations including Kyodai, a Japanese culture organization, more presence on campus. As student body president, efforts will continue with a concrete plan of action. An EIS council would mirror ASLMU, with e-board members from each cultural organization will come together and form a separate council and representatives from all communities. Cassidy proclaims, “We’ve already had that for Greek life and service organizations. Why can’t we have it for one of the biggest organizations on campus?”
Through EIS Leadership Council, Cassidy wishes to unite the student body. With a combined calendar with all events from each organization and a contact list for e-board members and leadership positions, student leaders within EIS will have a clearer picture of what goes on for every organization and have easier access to other leaders. Cassidy believes that this kind of organized system is what student leaders of different communities urgently need,
“A newsletter will give students a platform to voice their concerns without going through a traditional system. Some people are reluctant to talk about indigenous tribes or about being Pacific Islanders because there is such a small population of either on campus. We are trying to give those folks a voice even though they are not optically visible.”
Different from the Cassidy I knew, who was sometimes quiet, the Cassidy in front of me is confident, ambitious, and determined to make an impact.
Cassidy is determined to make their time different from previous student body leaders. “We don’t just want to be a face. We want to be a voice now. In the past, presidents have talked about driving change, but unfortunately, students didn’t see any tangible changes that directly affect their lives on campus.” With concrete plans, Cassidy doesn’t want to play safe.
If Cassidy is elected as ASLMU president, the trailblazer will be the first openly transgender Asian American student body in the United States. Cassidy could make history, living the message that trans people are an integral and powerful part of our communities. Representation is crucial.
Cassidy knows the value of earning this title: “There is a way that students in this nation feel about openly trans, queer, or LGBTQ folk. I want to change that perception and be the voice that says: ‘yes, you can do this, ‘‘yes, you can get elected,’ and ‘yes you can be powerful and make an impact.”
As I conclude our interview, with a full schedule including promoting the campaign to different organizations and presidential debates, Cassidy didn’t seem tired. Students of LMU needs a president who could fight for their rights with unlimited energy and passion, but we can only know when the result comes out on Thursday.
*Albus Wang has a personal relationship with the subject.