DPAC discusses hot issues

On April 28, contentious issues such as medical marijuana policy, effectiveness of campus sustainability efforts and student access to information were debated at the bimonthly District Planning and Advisory Council (DPAC) meeting. Robert Myers, campus council for SMC, presented the proposed Administrative Regulation 2430, which prohibits both the possession and the use of medical marijuana on campus.

"This is more than a simple bureaucratic matter," said Myers. "This is to provide clarity to the students who may be lighting up on campus, thinking its legal."

He explained that California campuses routinely have these policies in place to coincide with federal support.

"We're not trying to get into a national drug policy debate," he said. "This is a conflict between state and federal programs. The Drug Free School Act is a federal program."

There was some expressed concern over the boundaries of identifying "possession," however he was quick to express that the intent was not to make the students guilty until proven innocent.

"There is no plan for drug sniffing dogs on campus," said Myers.

The Council unanimously approved the new regulatory ban.

Genevieve Bertone, project manager for sustainability and co-chair of the ACUPCC Sustainability Task Force, presented the 2007-2008 Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The report contained an overview of the campus' carbon emissions released from property facilities, transportation, and resource usage.

The report was a product of SMC President Chui Tsang's signing of the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in January 2008, dedicating resources toward climate neutrality and environmentally sustainable practices.

SMC's ACUPCC Sustainability Task Force was assembled for the campus to promote new initiatives, such as the greenhouse gas inventory. At the meeting they decided to join other colleges and universities across the country by collecting raw data on the college's carbon footprint.

Compared to data collected in 2006, combined emissions were found to have risen 6.1 percent. The bulk of these emissions were caused by the commuting habits of faculty and staff, as well as the source of SMC's electricity. SMC emits 29.8 tons of carbon emissions (MT CO2e) per thousand feet, which is slightly higher than the peer average of 28 MT CO2e.

When the emissions were compared on a student-to-carbon ratio, however, SMC proved to be well under the peer average. Every full-time student on campus emits just 1.2 MT CO2e—less than half of other comparable institutions, which averages at 3.1 MT CO2e.

Although the results of the greenhouse gas inventory were mixed, the task force remained positive on future goals.

"I'm a hundred percent optimistic," said Bertone. "We wanted to stay data-focused with this report—it was a big hurdle to overcome. Now we can use what we learned to actually make some changes."

The task force is meeting with all departments at the school to communicate and integrate the findings of the report, as well as promote a spirit of accountability to both faculty and students.

"We have voluntarily committed ourselves to this goal and it's part of our job to be ecologically literate," said Amber Katherine, co-chair of the Academic Senate Environmental Affairs Committee. "All of this information should be at the tips of our tongues when we talk to our students."

The Council unanimously accepted the Geenhouse Gas Inventory report.

Lesley Kawaguchi of the Student Learning Outcomes Committee reported on the proposed "pilot portal" electronic database to record and share Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) records among faculty members. The database would be incorporated into the faculty's data management system already in place.

SLO refer to the behavioral changes a student should retain after completing a class. While grades represent the end result of a class in quantitative terms, SLO represent the more abstract qualities of integrity, ethics, and critical thinking gained through the experience of the curriculum.

The database proposed, however, would not be accessible to students. This incited a point of contention during the discussion, as some committee members voiced concerns about potential lawsuits over the availability of the information.

"This seems like it will open a Pandora's Box of problems," said Howard Stahl, co-chair of the Budget Planning Subcommittee. "Don't the students have a right to know?"

Kawaguchi was quick to explain that the purpose of the program would not be to conjure a "Big Brother" mentality toward student information, but to compare information across campus disciplines. The information collected is self-evident in that the students have direct access to their professors, who are required to discuss their performance.

"The purpose of this would be to see what we can do to make successful students," said Kawaguchi. "It's a way to show faculty members what works and what doesn't."

The recommendation to create a pilot database has previously been approved by the council and is in development by both the Student Learning Outcomes Committee and the campus IT department.