How many college students do you know who watch C-SPAN and CNN just for fun? Meet Christopher Chavez, CSULB’s 2009-10 student body president. As a political science major, Chavez loves learning and talking about politics.
Chavez started in Associated Students in 2005 as a member of Beach Team—a group of first-year students who are given the chance to navigate their new environment and learn how student governance works at The Beach. Chavez later served as senator for the College of Liberal Arts, AS attorney general, AS vice president and, finally, AS president.
A Long Beach resident, Chavez is the son of proud parents Josephine and Hector and brother to sisters Stephanie, Tara and Heather. From the time of his initial commitment to the AS, Chavez was a strong voice on behalf of students. His efforts were highly successful. In April, CSSA honored Chavez with the CSU Student Advocate of the Year Award, a prestigious award that had not been achieved by another CSULB student in 25 years.
Coming into office as AS president, Chavez intended to make good on the promises he made during his campaign: to fight for students’ rights; reinvent campus culture; bring recognition to CSULB and address students’ needs. He and his executive team got to work immediately. The team negotiated for the AS to rejoin the CSSA so that CSULB students could participate in discussions about California’s looming budget crisis. Chavez’s greatest legacy was his ability to craft legislation as a political response to different opportunities at the campus, city, state and federal levels. He crafted resolutions on the Federal DREAM Act, California’s Senate Bills 218 and 330 and Assembly Bill 656. Thanks to Chavez’s deft political maneuvers, CSULB was the first CSU campus to support the successful Student Loan Reform effort.
Throughout his tenure, Chavez deeply valued the voice of students. He solicited feedback from students using e-mail, visiting student organizations or simply walking the campus and talking to random students. One of his most memorable achievements was creating the “More Than Numbers” campaign, a marketing tool to educate students about the budget crisis. Chavez and his team created postcards for students to share their stories about how the budget affected them and delivered the postcards to state senators. Their efforts created a buzz on campus about the state budget crisis and resulted in increased student activism. Chavez felt that he was the voice of students and spoke eloquently on behalf of students in every arena with faculty, administrators and legislators. He also sustained the legacy of former AS President Erin Swetland by ensuring that communication between the AS and students continued through Beachfront, a monthly e-mailed newsletter sent to all CSULB students. To this day, Beachfront continues to communicate important information about ASI events, opportunities, scholarships and projects.
“Leadership is not about blame and finger pointing, it’s about having the vision and determination to develop student-friendly policies and solutions,” Chavez said. “I obtained a richer understanding of the intricate workings of higher education, the fiscal crisis in California, the state government structure and the legislative process. My involvement with the AS was an incredible supplemental education that will complement my degree. It was an amazing overall experience.”.”
In July, Chavez was elected president of the California State Student Association for 2010-11. Made up of the 23 CSU student body presidents and representatives from each of the campuses, CSSA is engaged in the political battle to ensure that the voice of students continues to be heard during California’s current budget crisis. For more information about CSSA, go to www.csustudents.org.