Campus hit by Tsang's eventless December
Electro swing music blared in the Cayton Center lounge as delegates and members of campus clubs gathered for tea, sandwiches, desserts, and dancing for the Inter-Club Council Social. ICC Vice-Chair Courtney King had just passed the funding for the event at the Associated Students meeting the day before, despite months of planning. King rallied students to act as tea servers for her guests as they munched and conversed with other clubs in what she deemed the "Interaction of Classy Clubs," with suggested "fancy dress" included. Through the celebrating, the fact loomed that this would be the last such event they could attend through school approval for the rest of the year.
By December 1, Santa Monica College clubs will no longer be able to do on- campus activities with the sponsor of Associated Students due to a recommendation that the Student Life Office has made the decision to uphold, which was made by school President Chui L. Tsang earlier in the semester.
ICC Chair Maya Kaitel mentioned that the recommendation was made to "stress the importance of academics, especially right before finals," she said. The Corsair contacted Tsang to ask why the mandate was put in place and what the mandate specifically states, but has not received a response as of press time. Though there have been suggestions to cutting off club activities around finals in the past, this is the first time that a presidential mandate has been set, according to Kaitel.
ICC Communications Officer, Rizwan Rashid mentioned it's possible that an early cut-off date will be implemented permanently for all of the following semesters. "[Tsang] wants students to be able to concentrate on studying," said Rashid.
AS president Ali Khan mentioned that the recommendation was issued because some students in ICC showed poor grades at the time of finals. "Students were taking finals but they were doing AS board meetings or club stuff. They would kind of, maybe fall off their grades a little bit, that was a concern. There were a lot of reports about that last year," said Khan.
Kaitel mentioned in an email that the AS and ICC were verbally told of the college president's recommendation much earlier in the semester. Though the AS nor the ICC were not given the opportunity to vote on this issue, Kaitel explained that it was announced to ICC clubs early enough in the semester that the clubs "have been able to work around it." She added, "Clubs who wanted to host off-campus activities or end of the year celebrations were approved to do so, so there hasn't really been an issue with it."
All of the clubs were approached about the issue and a handful responded. Some who did wanted to remain anonymous so as to not seem combative against the president. This despite being perplexed and even angered about the decision that was made.
One club president willing to comment on the issue, president of the Strategic Gaming club, Jaden Ledkins explained in an email that he knew that clubs "are not supposed to officially happen" after December 1. He added that the decision was made unilaterally by the president, without club input.
Ledkins commented that the deadline was harsh, making activities in the semester feel rushed. "It has made the semester feel extremely time crunched for us as the SGC of SMC and I would assume other clubs as well," he said .
President of the Chess Club, Douglas Perez, mentioned his club received no written information about the decision to not hold activities in December, and only heard about it after receiving a phone call from the AS on November 18. "We had plans to compete with other schools during December but we were cut off unexpectedly," said Perez. He also mentioned he still hasn't been told why the decision was made.
Secretary of the GAX club, Melvin Galloway III said, "This actually affects our clubs in a negative way since we offer tutoring and extra lab time for the AET students here on the airport campus." Galloway explained that this activity cutoff will hurt club members who use the lab space to work on final projects and study for finals.
Additionally, Galloway added that this issue adds to the concerns his club has about AS. "They tend to make our jobs more complicated [than] they seem to be," said Galloway.
Some clubs were surprised to hear about the cutoff. SMC Student Veterans Association president Jennifer Garcia was unaware about the issue when questioned for comments, mentioning that her club still has to carry out elections for next year. "This is quite inconvenient," said Garcia.
Though Ledkins felt this year's activities were rushed, he could understand that Tsang may have recommended the cutoff to make students focus fully on preparing for finals. Though he could understand Tsang's concerns, he still feels that a cut-off date two weeks before finals is harsh. "We are students first after all," said Ledkins.
Art Club president Lili Raygoza said, "I just believe that students that are involved in extracurricular activities usually know how to balance their academics with their extracurricular." Also a member of Astronomy Club, she believes "stopping the clubs" for the last month of the year won't make much difference to students' academics.
Khan speculates that club members will still associate during this time, off-campus, saying "Students decide on their own that they want to meet and talk about things. There's not much you can really do about it. It's how students choose to use their time."
Edit: This article has been corrected to reflect that the decision to cut off activities in December was a suggestion that the Student Life office chose to uphold. The article previously stated that the decision was a mandate ordered down from SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang.