An Overview of the Associated Students
Associated Students strengthens the Spartan community through access to opportunities that inspire educational growth, personal development, and innovation.
Associated Students’ mission is to support and represent the students of San José State University by continuing the organization’s legacy of student advocacy and leadership; to enhance SJSU students’ education through high quality programs and services; and to prepare students as they move towards a thoughtful and purposeful life after graduation.
In 1897, students of the soon-to-be Student Government organized to hold elections and establish a collective student voice focused on representation, advocacy, and improving the student experience, which today remain tenants of the Associated Students purpose. Like many student-led organizations, Associated Students was created from scratch, reportedly holding a mere $657.95 in 1901 for operating expenses. The student government was composed of Student Body Officers elected by their peers and an executive committee with member composition changing throughout the first 20 years. Individuals such as the editor of The Normal Times, Basketball and Tennis managers, student representatives, and faculty members held positions on the executive committee. Athletes were highly influential on the student government and would continue to be so until the 1970s.
In the years immediately following its founding, the Student Body was repeatedly referenced in the official annual catalog as an influential factor “in shaping and directing Student Affairs.” In 1980, AS became incorporated, stating that, “the specific purpose of this corporation is to operate as a charitable and educational organization for the student activities of the Associated Students of San José State University.” In 1986, for the first time in AS history, the total AS budget surpassed $1 million. In 1987, the first mission statement appeared, “The mission of this organization is to unify and represent the students of San José State University. As the elected representatives of these students, we speak on their behalf on all matters pertaining to and having impact on the quality and equity of our educational opportunities and experiences.” At the start of the millennium, the AS budget reached over $9 million and offered students more services and events than ever before. In 2000, AS provided the necessary $3.1 million needed to save and renovate the historic Scheller House on campus, making it their base of operations for the next 30 years. In 2016, the completion of the new Student Union facilitated the relocation of several AS departments, the merging of the Computer Service Center and the Print Shop (known now as the Print & Technology Center), and the transition of Campus Recreation department staff and operations to the Student Union to provide seamless recreational experience for students.
Throughout its 120-year history, Associated Students of San José State University has been inextricably connected to student affairs and life on campus as we know it today. It was evident from the beginning that a small group of passionate students could effect change, serving as an early precursor to the rich history of student activism and diversity on which SJSU would eventually pride itself. The evolution of student interests broadened the association’s scope to include issues, services, and committees that mattered most to students. Symbols of the organization’s entrepreneurial spirit include:
- the first president of the Students’ Association, Harriet E. Quilty, served as the editor of the school newspaper, The Normal Pennant (predecessor to the Spartan Daily and La Torre);
- in the early years AS oversaw the newspaper, yearbook, student resource guide, and funding for other forms of communication, such as radio and TV;
- a campus cooperative store in the 1920s which grew into Spartan Shops Inc. in the mid-’50s;
- AS coordinated freshman and transfer student orientation programs in the 1950s;
- the Cultural Affairs Committee was formed in 1960 to address overall campus climate;
- the 1970s brought a new AS fee of $10 per semester allowing for stronger service to students through the creation of nine new permanent professional staff positions and the AS Business Office, AS Government, AS Recreational Program, AS Intercultural Steering Committee, and AS Program Commission;
- several AS presidents helped establish the California Student Presidents’ Organization, known today as California State Student Association or CSSA, helping to build what would become a legacy of community and coalition building among CSU’s, all led by students;
- throughout the 1980s, AS government passed many resolutions including unanimously approving funds to publicize a collection of money for the starving people in Ethiopia, an anti-racism resolution that vowed to cut off funds to any student organization that was found practicing “unlawful discrimination,” and the closing of San Carlos Street in order to promote a safer and more unified campus;
- AS funded a variety of clubs and organizations during the ‘80s that promoted diversity and sustainability on campus, such as the Gay and Lesbian Student Union, the Recycling Center, Semana Chicana, and more;
- in the 1990s, AS provided funding for Career Planning and Placement to add a 24-hour job hotline, passed a Child Care referendum and passed the first Transit Access Program (TAP) fee by student referendum for access to unlimited rides on Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) transit system, a pilot program and precursor to the AS Eco Pass;
- 2005 launched the Spartan Squad Program and in 2007 AS held the first Fire on the Fountain Homecoming Celebration, one of the largest events held annually on campus;
- AS also remained committed to its belief in civic activism through the creation of the Tommie Smith and John Carlos Commemoration Project, which raised funds for the construction of an outdoor commemorative art piece and the César E. Chávez Memorial Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice;
- the Board passed many resolutions in the 2000s, such as the resolutions showing concern for the lack of resources for AB540 and undocumented students and promoting global citizenship at SJSU;
- AS played a pivotal role in making SJSU a tobacco-free campus; and
- in 2016, the Board issued a statement of solidarity with Standing Rock and urged other organizations on campus to do the same.
Throughout the 20th century, Associated Students would become known for being a center of student life, involvement, leadership, and development. The organization’s strengths emerged quickly, including adaptability in meeting the changing needs of students, innovativeness in offering essential services and programs that enhance the academic experience, and making public statements about important social issues. Over 100 years later, Associated Students continues to effectively engage San José State University students and the broader campus community.
Today, Associated Students is responsible for the operation and development of eight distinct departments, each contributing its own unique service to the campus community. The Board of Directors is comprised of students who are elected to oversee the organization’s operations, including a $9 million budget and employing 34 professional staff members and 160 San José State students. The key activities that are at the core of the work of Associated Students include advocacy, education, listening to students, lobbying, governing, mentoring, running a business, managing elections, serving students, programming (coordinate/manage events), supporting, and representing students. The full-time professional administrative team is employed to provide experience, guidance, and continuity. The staff is committed to creating jobs for students that promote their growth beyond customer service and prepare them for professional roles beyond SJSU.