By Amanda Arroway | News Editor
At the Associated Students of Riverside City College election forum April 18, presidential candidate Doug Figueroa gave a charged presentation, shunning the media and inviting students to “be progressive” and “believe in rehabilitation.”
Figueroa, the current student body president, is running unopposed for his second term.
He has recently been in the news after an anonymous flier found on campus revealed that he is a registered sex offender on probation.
Figueroa has refused to be interviewed since his conviction became public, only issuing a statement to Viewpoints which was later posted to the Associated Students of Riverside City College’s website.
In his opening statement, Figueroa emphasized that he focused on improving the student experience on campus during his previous term.
RCC’s book rental program, the implementation of a student resource center, and taking part in winning a $250,000 mental health grant from the state to charter a mental health ambassador program are some of the accomplishments he listed.
“As president and leader in our community, I’ve always dedicated to representing 100 percent of our students regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and even background.”
“I am a firm believer in second, third, and even fourth chances in life. I owe tremendous gratitude to those that have supported me, and believed in me.”
“Therefore, I believe in rehabilitation and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes to live a better life,” said Figueroa.
Figueroa said he wants to leave a legacy by implementing more programs to benefit students this year.
He also wants to be “a strong voice for the students and stand up to the administration during tough and difficult economic times.”
Figueroa encourages students to look beyond his past legal trouble.
“I did not rape, nor did I do as little as touch or be touched by a minor,” said Figueroa.
“I know what I did, but most importantly, I know what I did not do. This was a circumstance in which my actions were led by an inability to make the right decisions.”
“Today I ask that you vote for leadership, courage, change and hope within our system and within our society,” Figueroa said.
He is running with Vice President Miguel Bagsit. Bagsit did not speak at the forum.
To counter the overall student apathy toward student government and elections, Figueroa plans to host workshops to get students more involved in student government.
During his last term, student government reached its largest numbers in the history of RCC with more than 60 students.
“And we have been successful, regardless of what’s going out on the media,” he said. He then shamed the media for “reporting things that (they) don’t even know what the heck (they’re) talking about,” instructing, “Get the facts. Do your research.”
When asked what qualifies him for the position of student body president, Figueroa said, “I feel that I am probably a little overqualified for the position because of the things I have done.”
“We all have one thing in common. We’re here to get an education; we’re here to make a difference in our lives. We’re not here to conform to what media tells us we’re supposed to believe in. We’re here to make a difference and I’m qualified to do that.”
Six other students checked out candidate packets to run in the election, but did not meet the qualifications for student government.
Some of the current qualifications require students to have a 2.5 grade point average in the previous semester, a 2.8 grade point average cumulatively, and get 200 signatures.
“What sets me apart from my fellow candidates is that I actually exist,” said Figueroa. “Because there are no other candidates.”
If elected for another term, Figueroa announced his plans to continue representing the logical voice of the students at RCC saying, “I have some big shoes to fill; my own.”
“I think it’s about what I need to do to continue doing what I’ve been doing in the last year. I have always had an open door policy.
There have been students that have come to my office and expressed their concern or expressed their interest and I have been open.”
“Not once have I denied the ability for anybody, except for media, to come to my office and express their concern,” said Figueroa.
“I’m here to say I’m asking for your vote,” he said in his closing statement. “You have the option of not voting on voting day, but I guarantee you that I will get more votes than I did last year and I thank those students that believe in being progressive and rehabilitation.”
“And know that every student here on campus has an equal right to live a better life and to add value to their lives and those of the people around them”
“It’s about moving forward and doing as much as you can while you’re where you’re at. Because life is short and you never know when that opportunity is going to pass you by.”