A.S. steps in when matriculation can't foot the bill


            The Associated Students' budget committee approved funding last Monday, for 500 medallions to be handed out at the 2011 graduation ceremony. 

The A.S. has funded the medallions for the Admissions Office since 2008, but students actually started receiving them back in the late 1980's.

For this year's graduation, the cost of the medallions was over $2,800, from a restricted account reserved for student success programs.

Kiersten Elliott, Associate Dean of Enrollment Services at SMC said, "[The Admissions Office] matriculation budget was cut and we were not going to have the funding to pay for the medallions."  She added, "Each year they have been graciously willing to fund the purchase of the medallions, because they also agree that receiving them is a special part of being an SMC graduate."

Elliott later said, "if the Admissions office starts receiving matriculation funding again, we hopefully can assume this cost again in the future."

SMC is unique in the sense that they give out medals to all students that graduate, instead of only honor students or members of the dean's list. 

Sushma Chahal, Inter Club Council secretary at SMC, agreed that the medallions were an important memento.  She explained it values students who work full-time and don't have a chance to be part of the Scholar's program because they too are working to get an Associate's degree.

Clark Jin, a first year SMC student, liked the idea of the medals because it can be used to show family and friends what you've accomplished.

Vince Slevin, head of Budget Management for the A.S., wasn't concerned with paying for the medals. "The medallions had been accounted for in the last couple budgets, so it wasn't a surprise expense," said Slevin. "Based on the current budget, it seemed completely appropriate."

While there was support for the medals, other students felt differently.  Michael Sermeno, a third year SMC student, said, "the money could be converted to something more convenient to students, especially with the budget cuts."

Other students thought the medals were unnecessary and felt if they were given out to everybody, it would take away from how special they were.  Some wanted the money to go to other purposes, like the parking problem here on campus.

Money for the medallions comes from the $19.50 students pay each semester to receive benefits and each student receives a medal whether they paid that fee or not.  This money also funds $15 in free printing for every student, $330,000 to clubs on campus, and the $600,000 needed for the Big Blue Bus so students can ride for free.  

The A.S. does support other departmental programs, like VIP welcome day for incoming students, certain scholarships for SMC, and the emergency book loan for the financial aid office.