The end of an era
He made winter session possible. He controversially brought a green party candidate to speak at the school. He saw the passage of Proposition 30. Through thick and thin, Parker Jean has represented Santa Monica College as president of the Associated Students.
The Texas native was raised by his single mother alongside his older brother, Grant, who moved to Los Angeles upon graduating high school. Jean and his mother followed suit, and Jean finished high school at Corona del Mar, then attended SMC.
"I came into [SMC] knowing that I wanted to get involved, and be as involved as I could possibly be, except I just didn't know in what field I would focus my attention in," Jean said.
At the beginning of his time at SMC, Jean was invested in sports. In his first year, he took an advanced weight-lifting class and trained with the football team. He also accepted an offer to be an AS commissioner for then-president and roommate Harrison Wills.
At the time, Jean said he really enjoyed campus politics, but was not ready to make his academics secondary to football, although he still wanted to remain involved. When spring came around, and elections were coming up for student government, Jean ran for president, even though he was still torn between politics and football.
"I was sort of letting the universe decide for me — I set it up so where if I didn't win, then I would go and play football," Jean said. "Looking back on it, I'm glad that I won because football is just not where my future is."
Jean won the presidential election with 823 votes and 49.3 percent in a three-way race, succeeding Wills.
Jean led the Paradigm Shift ticket, which swept the year’s election, taking 11 of the 13 seats. All but one member from the slate was not elected, except six people dropped out during his presidency for varied reasons and had to be replaced.
Members of Paradigm Shift were endorsed by Wills. Compared to Wills' board, Jean said he had a very peaceful board because in general, everyone respected each other's goals and visions, and nobody tried to block anybody from accomplishing anything. With the help of Yacob Zuriaw, director of financial support and student advocacy, AS was able to execute three town hall meetings and create a town hall forum in the quad where students who had problems could freely express them, from expensive cafeteria food to parking problems.
"That was really incredible because students were really able to start speaking up in places that they wouldn't otherwise be able to," Jean said. Jean was also proud of the teach-ins held such as the State of Education Teach-In at the Cayton Center in anticipation of November’s election in October, which provided a platform for the Peace and Freedom, Libertarian, Republican and Green parties to share their platforms’ views on politics, Proposition 30, and their stances on education.
"My goal is never to indoctrinate; my goal is to discus and give the ability for students to question and to ask questions," Jean said. Proposition 30 and voter registration was another focus of the AS this year because Jean said they acknowledged the proposition was critical in its passage because of the immediate effect it would have on classes. Jean's campaigning paid off, and the proposition was passed.
"I wanted to tell students that it's not all up to me; it's up to us," Jean said.
The Budget Planning Committee passed a motion to revisit dialogue about having a winter session, which was then received by the District Planning and Advisory Council that Jean sat on. He brought up the possibility of the AS donating money to the deficit fund. The AS voted and approved the contribution of $200,000 to provide an AS co-sponsored winter session — the money covered 15 percent of the roughly $1.5 million price tag, Jean said.
"That was monumental, reopening those classes, because that really shifted the tone on campus from a lingering pessimistic wave to a very positive reality," he said.
Jean said he is really glad that he ended up involved in student government and that it changed his life and has left him with fond memories.
"I remember a lot of students coming to me afterward that said that because [they] had the winter session [they were] going to be able to transfer now; that was really cool," Jean said. "I would just tell them, it's not my money, it's the students' money — I just facilitated where it went."
He advised that the incoming board should not worry about achieving consensus on everything they do, but instead everybody should have one goal that they carry through. Jean said he will spend his summer in Washington, D.C. on the Dale Ride internship, which allows SMC students to participate in politics.
"Hopefully students remember me not as someone who was here to gain power, but to just dedicate my time to benefitting students and just having genuine and sincere intentions to do good things," Jean said.