Student trustee elections near

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

Students districtwide will have the chance to elect a Contra Costa College candidate to the paid student trustee position on the Governing Board for the 2016-17 academic years before mid-April, Student Life Coordinator Ericka Greene said.

The student elected to this advisory position acts as the liaison between the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board and the 50,000 students it serves on an annual basis.

This could be the last election period with only one elect due to a resurgence of a student initiative to divide the position among the three campuses.

Gary Robert Walker, current student trustee from Los Medanos College, discussed the upcoming election and the initiative he is pushing to the ASU at its meeting on Wednesday.

Walker said the idea behind the initiative spurs from his own experience as the student trustee as he felt he did not represent each college to the best of his ability because of his school load, work and family life.

“Sometimes I would get so overwhelmed and tell myself ‘Gary, you can’t do this anymore — you just can’t’,” he said during his presentation at the ASU meeting. “But I was able to compose myself and push through.”

Walker said because these discussions have resurfaced three years after former LMC student trustee Debora Marciel-Van Eckhardt pushed for the division of the elected position.

“If (the position) were divided into three representatives each student trustee would know everything about their home school and it would give them a strong voice,” Walker said.

“Representing the student body at the district is also a great way to learn leadership skills by representing a large and diverse constituency group — and this initiative would give three students that experience instead of just one.”

He said this year’s student trustee election would not be affected, but the initiative could be implemented by 2017-18 academic year.

“There are conversations going on now about how we can revise the student trustee position,” district Director of Communication and Community Relations Tim Leong said. “These ideas are on people’s wish lists and there is a long way to go before anything like that can be implemented.”

Greene said the ASU’s Election Committee is delineating about specific campaigning dates, bulletin board regulations and plan to have that information ready for students interested in the $400 monthly position starting on March 28.

“If we have a few candidates (for the student trustee position) we want to have a (Q & A) forum on campus so students know whom they are voting for,” she said. “We could invite students from different campuses to meet the candidates and ask them questions.”

Greene said students returning from spring break should check their Insite Portal emails for applications, deadline information, GPA and enrollment requirements and campaigning limitations for candidates.

“This person will represent the voices of about 50,000 students at the district board meetings,” she said. “Whoever is interested in this position needs to understand its scope.”

Whoever is elected will have to chair the student advisory council and report student leadership’s concerns with district policies that affect each college at the monthly Governing Board meeting while managing to meet his or her own course and work responsibilities.

Greene and ASU President Nakari Syon said they support the initiative because only having one advisory vote limits the student trustees’ capability of representing each college.

According to the District Student Trustee Election Policies and Procedure, a student trustee must be enrolled in at least 5 units, have a cumulative GPA of 2.0, be a resident of the district and remain in good academic and disciplinary standing throughout term.

Leong said the student trustee position is different than being an ASU president and requires a higher level of commitment and effort as he or she represents such a large and diverse population of people.

Leong said it is a challenge and the student trustee the year before quit midway through her term, but said the Governing Board commended Walker for his “candor and clarity” in his monthly reports.

“So the challenge for a student trustee is figuring out how it is they can do that and best share their findings with the governing board about what is going on with students at all three campuses,” Leong said.

“It is easy to sit on a board with elected members and state your opinion, what is more important and more powerful is if a student trustee can make comments that are reflective of other student’s comments.”