A.S. meeting runs long and tackles a diverse agenda

Monday’s lengthy meeting by the Associated Students approved funding for multiple causes on campus, including the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s trip to attend a leadership conference, as well as welcomed discussions about professor Eric Oifer’s Got G.R.I.T. initiative. The board began with the routine approval of the minutes and moved straight into approving all Consent Action Items for projects costing less than $1,000. Following the approval for funding the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s leadership conference funds, lengthy debate and deliberation unfolded over two major action items.

The first was the discussion of the California Community College Student Affairs Association Leadership Retreat, essentially an organization that brings together community college student government leaders to exchange information and ideas. Counselor and Student Advisor, Benny Blades pitched the retreat as a beneficial conference where the students could receive training on the Brown Act as well as other areas of importance.

Numerous board members questioned the nearly $13,000 it would cost to go, feeling that the retreat’s high marked price was already a steep venture for a good cause and that this meeting wouldn’t be different from attending General Assembly Student Senate for California Community Colleges workshops. Recently elected Vice President Caitlin Corker however stressed that she is apart of the A.S. board to learn, and that everyone should take the advantage to learn more when the opportunity presents itself.

A lengthy debate developed over the proposal of the yearly office budget, this included an item proposal on the agenda outlining the spending for foodstuffs and sanitary items like soap. Specifically, the item proposed $2,120 for the whole year’s expenses on snacks, drinks, coffee, tea, healthy chips, candy, and fruit.

A major contention on this issue concerned the quality of food that Benny Blades would be purchasing. Directors of Sustainability, Andrea Gonzalez, and Instructional Support, Jeffrey Lewis, argued in favor of having healthier food options. Gonzalez stressed the importance of setting an example for students by making conscious healthy food choices. Lewis moved to amend the item to being certifiably organic food.

Student Advisor Benny Blades warned that eating organically would increase the food costs dramatically and would more quickly drain the food budget.

Director of Community Relations, Yana Demeshko stressed the amendment of moving $300 from buying Cliff bars, expressing their unhealthy nature, into the candy and fruit section of the proposal.

The action item was approved with the certifiable organic food only requirements and the transfer of fund from Cliff bars to candy and fruit.

Discussion items were then addressed, allotting sizeable chunks of time to the possibility of a Student’s Bill of Rights and the G.R.I.T. initiative.

The initiative’s title is an acronym; growth, resilience, integrity and tenacity. Professor Eric Oifer explained that G.R.I.T. asks students tough questions that cause students to reflect inwardly about their education and life. A way to test these personal questions is through classroom activities.

Oifer presented his two-year-old initiative aimed at encouraging student achievement to the board, expressing the need for G.R.I.T. to attach itself to student life. As Oifer explained it in his own words, aligning the initiative with the ICC is a way of implementing G.R.I.T. and empowering the ICC.

As Oifer claimed, G.R.I.T. aims at improving students’ authentic engagement, critical thinking, global citizenship, literacy and deep thinking. Of the directors on board with supporting the initiative was Courtney King, who explained that some of G.R.I.T.’s proposals mirror key elements of her platform during last year’s elections.

The board’s discussion on G.R.I.T. was left as a possible discussion item for next week.

This week’s meeting was heavy with agenda items which resulted in a very long running time due to the cancellation of last week’s meeting. Associate Dean of Student Life, Sonali Bridges, stated at noon on Friday September 26, that there wouldn’t be a meeting that following Monday. According to Dean Bridges, this was because the agenda’s authors failed to submit the agenda as a hard copy and electronically within the 72-hour time limit before Monday’s meeting. The meeting therefore, was cancelled.

Unable to appear at Monday’s meeting, Campus Counsel Robert Myers will be discussing the District Attorney’s response to violations of the Brown Act next week.