Meeting seeks to close AS-student gap

Members of the Associated Students held a town-hall-style meeting from 11:15 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. on the Santa Monica College quad. The goal was to close the gap between the students and their government, according to Yacob Zuriaw, AS director of student advocacy, who headed the meeting.

"Here's the place where you can be heard," Zuriaw said during the meeting.

Planning for the public meeting began two weeks ago, said Samantha Ross, AS secretary.

"There's no dialogue among students," Zuriaw said. "Students can't really talk about the school, and that's what the whole purpose of this town meeting is."

The town hall student participants voiced their concerns during the meeting, and suggested solutions to each others' problems of being denied services.

“This is a precursor to see if we can recruit students for the March in March,” said Ross, referring to the student protest taking place in Sacramento, Calif. on March 4, where students fight to protect public higher education, according to last year's March in March website.

Stephen Prociw, a student at SMC, publicly spoke at the meeting and brought up his issue regarding the math tutoring lab resources being denied to him while participating in the UCLA extension program, advertised by SMC’s school website. Prociw is the president of the college’s law club and second-year political science major, according to his SMC pre-law society online profile.

Prociw’s concerns of being denied tutoring center services at the college raised energy from the crowd of students gathered.

SMC student Clinton Clad-Johnson found the organization of Tuesday's meeting "inadequate." He has been actively participating in student protests since last spring.

“I saw a lot of places there could have been fliers, but there weren’t,” he said.

AS President Parker Jean began the meeting with a short introduction, which included a session of him beat-boxing and periodically rapping about students becoming involved with the school’s activities. Following thereafter was as an organic discussion that was open to students who volunteered to speak.

One student brought up concerns with the withdrawal date, which she thought was too soon.

“The date that students can withdraw isn’t necessarily set in stone," said Zuriaw. "That is discussed in committees that students are supposed to sit in on.”

Zuriaw explained that the decisions are made through shared governance committees.

The AS meeting drew a crowd of less than 65 people, including AS members. Zuriaw admitted to poor planning and said they will try to improve for planned future meetings. Dates will appear on the AS Facebook page, as well as information about other events.