ASI Presidents and The Year of the Woman

With the 2018 Midterm Election fresh in our minds, we wanted to write a story about women in male-dominated positions of power. 2019 has started off as “The Year of the Woman,” and we wanted to bring that to a local angle and a Cal Poly angle. Though it took some time to really get a solid, concrete angle on our story, we were able to figure out the best way to approach it: by talking to past and current Cal Poly ASI presidents.

The first step of the process was to conduct a community engagement report. Since we had a 2-cycle news story, we were able to do two of these and get a lot of information about what readers wanted to know, which also helped shape how we told our story.

The current ASI President, Jasmin Fashami, was our first contact. We knew we needed to talk to her about her role as ASI President and some of the challenges that come with the job, as many of the responses from our Strategy and Engagement efforts wanted to know the answers to those questions. We also wanted to know if she felt any limitations as a woman.

“At the beginning, I felt like I wasn’t being taken as seriously,” Fashami said. “I don’t know if it was because of my own insecurities or because I’m a woman, but I feel a lot better about it now.”

We also interviewed Aaron Gomez, Heidi Harmon and Erica Stewart to get a bigger picture on the story and bring it to a local level. Stewart is the first African American woman to serve on the SLO City Council, and was also ASI President when she was a Cal Poly student. We also spoke to Rose Dunn, who was the first female ASI President at Cal Poly in 1980. All of their perspectives were very interesting and essential to our reporting.

Another step of the process was to get visual elements for our video and interactive components. We scheduled on-camera interviews with some of our sources and made time to photograph them. We also made a timeline of female ASI presidents at Cal Poly and we provided additional interactive graphs.

Each team member had an important job in this process. Here’s what we thought about it individually:

Kayla Berenson (Strategy and Engagement): “The process of doing a 2-cycle news story was challenging, but I think we were able to get a lot out of it. We have so much information and I think it adds so much to our story. I really enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something more PR-focused; it’ll definitely be something I can put on my resume. I’m excited to learn more about the other components and keep challenging myself!”

Casi McIntyre (Writer): “This round has taught me how to work with another writer on a story. It was shown me how to focus on a theme for a story and continue to connect back to that while I interview and write. While taking on two cycles fit for our story, I encountered some challenges that I didn’t think I would.”

Jaelin Wilson (Video): “It’s been a great experience getting to interview more people for this piece. Morphing our narrative has proven a little challenging–but, in the end, it’s been beneficial to have that hurdle and overcome it. Collaborating with another writer has also been a learning experience.”

Krista Hershfield (Interactive): “This round it was really exciting to go on one of the interviews in City Hall. I also felt being involved in the interactive end brought me more into the storytelling process as well. It is exciting switching roels and I can’t wait to keep taking on different tasks.”