Complaints incite change

Low student turnouts affect selecting a college president

By The Advocate, Editorial Board

In order to prove they are capable for the Contra Costa College’s presidency, four finalists will answer questions at an open forum in the Knox Center Thursday from noon to 3:45 p.m.

Attendees will be given the chance to ask the candidates questions and analyze their responses by filling out comment cards and submitting them before leaving.

Spanning the college’s storied 66-year history there have only been 10 presidents. Yet, there has never been a time within the last 20 years that the presidency at CCC has loomed so precariously due to a politically apathetic student body.

Whoever is selected for this position, with or without student input, will be responsible for the general operation, budget issues, media relations, student success and representing the campus at the district and state level.

Last year, the three presidential finalists were turned away when district Chancellor Helen Benjamin said none were “qualified” after reviewing public comments with the Governing Board.

Student participation at that open panel was embarrassing.

The only assured differences this year are that the panel will have four candidates and this group’s applications were not screened by a student representative on the Presidential Search Committee due to ASU President Nakari Syon resigning from that position on Feb. 1 because of his busy schedule.

But even if our student representative botched an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime, it is not too late for the rest of us to close it out.

Students, faculty and community members’ comments and concerns regarding each candidate will be reviewed by Dr. Benjamin and the Governing Board before announcing their selection for president on March 17.

And now that California is emerging out of a recession and its colleges have seen the highest educational budget in the state’s history under Gov. Jerry Brown, why not miss class?    

After losing about 3,500 students due to eliminating programs and course offerings since 2001 according to a DataMart course section search, our voices as students are necessary in order to gauge which candidate is most capable of restoring the college enrollment to what it once was.

Are we so preoccupied with our personal lives and our studies that we are unable to set aside three hours to help select a leader that we are confident is dedicated and will work toward making the college a better place?

Now is the time to set whatever it is that is holding you back from attending the forum and prompt a discussion about the issues that should be addressed at it. This is an occasion that rolls around only once about every decade — suggest whoever you want be hired — ask questions.

It is not particularly important what issues you want to discuss. What matters is that you complain about something.

Because if we don’t complain, and ask questions, how can we call ourselves students? How can we expect change?