Who speaks for SMC students?
Here at Santa Monica College, the Associated Students act as our official student government, but lately the loudest voice on campus has been the Student Organizing Committee, an independent group of student activists. The pepper spraying of protesters at the April 4th Board of Trustees meeting made national news, bringing attention to their efforts and forcing the board to put Contract Ed on hold.
Opposition to Contract Ed has been the main focus of the protesters, most of whom have been marching on and around campus in recent weeks.
Due to the general student body’s apparent lack of interest in school politics and daily governance by and this year’s low A.S. election turnout, we are left with these protesters to speak for us.
The Board of Trustees’ only crime is their utter lack of communication with the student body and the subsequent failure to disseminate clear and accurate information on important decisions that affect our college careers. However, they still need to be held accountable.
The SOC may come off as wild and overly aggressive, but perhaps that is exactly what we need to combat the relatively conservative powers that be. The effect of the protests cannot be denied, and they have forced the trustees to take greater consideration of the needs and demands of the students.
Some members of the AS have lent their support to the SOC, most notably out-going President Harrison Wills, who often appeared at their rallies and championed many of the same causes.
How well these groups represent the sentiment of the student body as a whole is open for interpretation, but their necessity goes without question.
Due to lack of alternatives, for better or for worse, the SOC is the only group that has stepped up to the plate on behalf of the student body.
Freshmen psychology student Sharlisa Jackson states, “They don’t represent me, I represent myself.” She does not have a problem with the Board Of Trustees or Contract Ed. “I understand why some don’t like Contract Ed, but you have to work harder, there’s money out there.”
Sophomore nursing student Camille Nance opposes Contract Ed and does feel represented by the protesters but is not sure if their tactics will prove to be effective in the long run.
Counselor and Transfer Center Faculty Leader Dan Nannini let a protester speak to a class during one of his workshops on the night of the pepper spraying. He says that he had to correct the speaker many times as his facts were distorted.
Newly elected AS president Parker Jean believes that the A.S. does a good job of representing students, considering how difficult it is to know what students want. He says that the only way to get an idea is to walk around and talk to students on campus, but with over 35,000 students spread out over day and night classes across multiple campuses, that can only provide a limited sample.
Jean does have some ideas on a more manageable solution. He would like to tap in to SMC’s many clubs and try to form some sort of legislative body out of the Inter Club Council. Jean also encourages students to bring ideas to the A.S.
All of those that disagree with the SOC’s efforts should take a page from their book. They need to organize themselves and make their voices heard. If we do not stand up for what we believe in we cannot expect anybody else to do it for us.
Nannini agrees with some of the chants he hears on campus but believes, “it’s important that they hold us accountable for what were thinking. Even if it’s heated or inaccurate, we need the discussion.”