Letter to the Editor: Banned from the Tea Party

This letter has been long in coming, yet I am nervous even writing it that my position will be taken from me and I will be stripped of any honors. I am Courtney King. The Inter Club Council Vice Chair, Former SMC presidential candidate and Crafting Club president. It is the responsibility of me and two other directors to run all sixty two of our clubs on campus. It is a matter of personal pride for me to honor my commitments. When I was 18 I moved to California to start a new life and chase my dream, which is to travel the world and become a toy maker. I moved here because I was scared of acquiring college debt and decided to come to Santa Monica to attend this community college. I missed home, and called my grandmother daily. Two years passed. In order to be less lonely I founded the Crafting Club and became very involved in our school’s Inner Club Council. I try to run for AS president, and lose by 28 votes- instead of giving up I decide to dedicate myself to clubs. In the spring of 2014 I was nominated the position of Vice Chair of the meeting of club presidents and delegates.

My goals were to have more events on campus for those involved in clubs and to try to make it so that people who were having trouble starting clubs had an easier time. I envisioned having both full time and part time associated faculty be club advisors. The system which is in place makes it difficult to find an advisor for a new club, and often students are disheartened and do not participate. Those who do are rewarded with ‘Club Appreciation Day’, Club Row, and the ICC Social- all which fall under my responsibility. This year I coordinated a Club Renaissance Fair and a Tea Party- in an attempt to bring magic to an otherwise old tradition. When attempting to plan more events for the students I was thwarted many times by the Associated Dean of Student Life.

My experience with the student government has not been what I expected. I have devoted at least four hours a day to this organization, sometimes going to meetings which would last six hours. In addition to my role as a director I was interested in lobbying for students rights on a state level at General Assembly- however I was not allowed to attend either time because I was told my contribution was not relevant. One event I was able go to was the March in March, a visit to the capitol to lobby for student’s rights. Again my name was left off the list to be approved, yet instead of giving up I drove myself to Sacramento while everyone else was bought a plane ticket- because it was important to represent student interests.

The Dean got really angry about the fact we went to do an impromptu march when we arrive and she changed everyone else’s flight to be sent home earlier. She told the directors that if they did not get on the plane they would be left in Sacramento to find their own way home. I ended up being one of only two directors who was able to stay to appeal to the congressmen because of her quick emotional judgment.

A few weeks later I attempted to turn our Club Appreciation Day into a food truck festival; I methodically planned this event and was told that I could have contracts signed the day of by my ICC advisor. On the day before the event the Dean cancelled the event and forced me to call the trucks I booked and tell them they cannot come. The event happened without catering and I concealed disappointment, though many of the club's expressed their grievances. Clubs also expressed their unhappiness during this Spring’s Club Row. Within our AS office there was a delay in uploading the paperwork for clubs to sign up for this event so we had to change the date- at her request we change it to May 5th.

Planning continues, money is approved. Suddenly I hear from the Vice President of the school that we cannot have it on this day since it is Cinco De Mayo. I had not realized this and was strongly requested to change the theme or to further reschedule my event. Instead we are “strongly recommended “ to honor Mexican heritage during the festival by purchasing and giving out traditional Spanish cuisine. This work was allocated to another director because I was so busy with the planning and thus I never warned the clubs that the tacos would be free. A few clubs complained about making less profit and I was forced by the Dean to issue an apology to all the clubs for how poorly the event went. This was incredibly difficult for me. I was so proud of how well the clubs had come together and they had put countless hours of work into the event. It was never my aim to seek recognition, but to receive admonishment and that is incredibly disheartening. I choose to believe that my involvement itself is not the root of my frustration, it is the flaws in the system. The point I would like to address up is that the Dean is psychologically abusive.

Myself and many other directors have been victim to her intense psychological bullying. She has tricked directors into coming into her office with promises to help with financial aid, and then harshly verbally critique their actions without the chance to defend themselves. She will promise to write letters of recommendations and then never do so. She employs the use of coercion, fabricates regulations and uses them as threats in order to get what she wants. She has actively violated administrative regulation by trying to influence student legislation and has tried to shut down our meetings because of policies she did not approve of. The Dean will continue to terrorize the incoming board and make their lives difficult unless they behave exactly how she desires. Last semester we had several directors resign. One director was even at the point of frustration that he made an attempt to end his own life. This is a very serious problem. However what tipped me over the edge and made it so I am writing to you was my tea party.

This Thursday there will be an ICC Tea Party exclusively for all the presidents of clubs and advisors. Although I have planned the event I will not be allowed to attend because I made a comment about another director which was perceived as unprofessional. I had asked this director to help fund the event through his line item, he walked away rudely after a harsh discussion and I muttered this comment under my breath. He complained about what was said and I was told that I could no longer participate in my event. My reaction to this was utter desolation. From the beginning I have tried to bring happiness, light and magic to a political system which was mirthless and tired. This effort has been rewarded with such little support it has all but crushed my spirit. Yet I will not go gentle into the good night, but instead rage against the dying of the light.

I am writing this just to bring attention to the climate of our associated students office which goes unmentioned, and the amount of stress we are under due to the work which is expected of us. However, it is all strictly voluntary- I chose to be here. It remains to be seen if it will all have been worth it.