Alex Kaplan is an unconventional candidate in this year’s race for Associated Students Inc. president.
With no background in student leadership, he said he wants to represent students who aren’t the typical face of ASI.
Although Kaplan said he initially wanted to join student government to get priority registration, he eventually decided to run for president when he could no longer stand the tank top policy at the gym.
“I always thought the ‘no tank tops in the gym’ rule was stupid, and that was the one thing that upset me more than anything. I go to the gym every day and as toolish as it sounds, I would ask why I can’t wear a tank top and, ‘Why are you kicking people out of the gym?’” Kaplan said.
The gym’s policy has now become one of the issues he plans to address as president, in addition to communication with students, the noise and unruly gathering ordinances and healthier food options on campus.
After several attempts to set up an interview, the 21-year-old agricultural systems management junior walked into Linnaea’s Cafe to discuss his campaign to become ASI president. He had recently worked out at the gym and was hungry, he said. After looking at the menu, he said none of the dishes have enough protein and asked to walk to Natural Café.
As he walked, he said his daily exercise routine and high protein diet are all part of his training to become a Navy Seal after college.
“I don’t want to be sitting behind a desk like my dad and brother. I want to be doing something that’s more active,” Kaplan said.
He described growing up in San Diego and how he first decided to come to Cal Poly after speaking with his brother’s friend and considering his academic background.
“I messed around in school, so I didn’t have the best grades. I applied as an ag major and then planned to change to business. My freshman year, I tried to switch into political science but didn’t have the grades,” Kaplan said.
While he admits it does bother him how hard it is to switch majors and said that Cal Poly should not force freshmen to choose a major so young, he has chosen not to make this issue part of his platform.
Kaplan said though there are bigger issues plaguing students such as increased tuition, class size and furloughs, he would rather focus on what he thinks can be accomplished in a year.
Kaplan said he will begin with communication because ASI has been compromised of a selective group of individuals who are not necessarily involved in any other activities, they are unable to meet the needs of the student body.
“Those all tie into my thing that I want real actual change,” Kaplan said.
He said the downfall of ASI is communication; to correct this, he plans to use e-mail as a main source of outreach to students.
“I think the problem with Kelly Griggs this year is she worked a lot behind the scenes where she did a lot of good stuff but people didn’t know what was going on,” Kaplan said.
The unruly gathering and noise ordinances are just some examples he said Griggs could have handled better, by keeping students updated with the meetings and compromising less with the San Luis Obispo City Council.
“I think a lot of the students are irrational to react to it by making a Facebook group that says the noise ordinance is stupid and it needs to be taken away. They don’t know where the people who created the noise ordinance are coming from,” Kaplan said. “That being said, the students have a certain right to be upset about it. The type of things that have been happening like serving alcohol to underage minors I am not advocating, but it has happened since the beginning of college and everywhere.”
As Kaplan ate, he was reminded of the third issue on his platform: healthier food on campus. He said he plans to rid the campus of soda and candy, as well as provide students with more options made from better quality ingredients.
“If you look at what is served on campus, it’s extremely expensive and extremely unhealthy. It’s really carb-based and really fatty. Is that with the students need, especially with the obesity epidemic? I think we should have a say in what food is served and where,” Kaplan said.
“Truthfully, is the best thing you should serve freshmen french fries and hamburgers? Ninety-nine percent of campus dining food is shit. It’s fatty foods greasy and carby. We should have less greasy foods and no candy and no soda.”
When asked whether students or the campus should be held responsible for someone’s diet, Kaplan said, “I think to a certain extent it should be both. Students are adults for the most part. I know I could’ve gotten a greasy hamburger instead of what I am eating now (albacore salad and two chicken breasts).”
The last issue on his platform is the “no tank top” policy at the gym, which originally motivated Kaplan to join the race.
However, it is unlikely that any change will be seen regarding the policy as, according to University Union Advisory Board Chair Lorin Torbitt, the responsibilities of the ASI president do not include policy review.
She added the “no tank top” policy has existed since the Recreation Center opened in 1993 when students decided it could make those who attend the gym uncomfortable. It has been reviewed several times and has always been endorsed by UUAB.
Overall, Kaplan said he hopes to show students that anyone can run for president and plans to bring change students can see on campus.
Since his freshman year at Cal Poly, Kaplan admits a lot has changed including him focusing more on his classes, health and goal of becoming a Navy Seal. He attributes his determination and focus to the moment he decided to quit the fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha.
Kaplan said he first began to question the fraternity when as a pledge he was forced to sit for two days in their masonic lounge for seven hours without food or water while being ridiculed by Lambda Chi members.
“They have you there in your tighty whities and they start throwing ice on you; they open all the windows and it’s cold out there and they don’t let you eat and they don’t let you drink any water and I was sitting there and the second day I told them, ‘Fuck off. I want to be in Pike.’ At that moment, I knew I was going to better myself, whether it be to quit drinking or get more muscular,” Kaplan said.
He said he was later asked to build a ‘kegerator’ for the fraternity, but after receiving $50 from each member, he decided to take the money and never build it.