Associated Students Semster long Accomplishments
It's sometimes hard to see what your student government does. You often hear cynical students complain that the Associated Students don't really do anything. If you were to ask A.S., President David Chun, he'd report an endless amount of positive news.
"When you have a organization that has the potential to reach out to 30,000 students, you have the potential to make some change," Chun said. Chun and the A.S. have been working tirelessly this semester to create a better forum of communication between the students and the school government. Right after Chun was elected he said "that [communication] is the initial step before accomplishing anything."
While registering for classes, every Santa Monica College student has the option of paying the "Associated Student Body Membership Fee" of $19. This grants members several personal benefits such as Internet and printer access in the Cayton Center, free "Big Blue Bus" rides, leadership opportunities and selected scholarships. A large portion of these payments transfers to the A.S. It allocates the funds to activities that "foster academic achievement, social interaction, and community involvement."
Some would argue that the best way to achieve these goals is by supporting campus clubs. Indeed, the A.S. is responsible for the majority of financial endorsement of this semester's 80 clubs, with a set rate of $800 allocated for each. The student government even provides extra assistance to compensate for many of the clubs' extracurricular activities, such as field trips or tournaments in which they represent SMC. "[The clubs] are the ones who build the community on this campus," said Chun, "and we need to make sure that each club is accessible, because that makes our association stronger."
In addition to acting as the main money-well for SMC's clubs, the A.S. also plans and provides several services and opportunities for students who wish to take advantage of them. During this fall semester, the A.S. planned three major scholarships for SMC students, including that for studying abroad, student employees (roughly $10,000 allocated for 10 students) and students with visual impairments (called "Glasses for Classes.") The details of which may be found on the SMC website. The study abroad programs will take place during Winter 2009, in both South Africa as well as Latin America, with applications due on Dec. 10.
Ever used the Cayton Computer Lab for Internet accessed, or enjoyed the minimal amount of waiting time for the computers in the library? The A.S., in allocating a percentage of its funds for Cayton services, directly lifts the burden off of other computer labs. It also increases the ease with which students may access all necessary computer programs during the school day. Frustrated with the significant decrease of the value of your textbooks when the school buys them back from you at the end of the semester? Thanks to Chun, who thoroughly followed up on a promise he made during his campaign last semester, every student can now buy and sell textbooks without any additional charge at www.votestick.org, the "SMC Textbook Exchange." "It's a classified advertising page just for Santa Monica College," Chun explained, "where students save a lot of money by retaining a lot of the capital. You do the work yourself, it doesn't require any work on the part of the facilitator."
In addition to these constant services throughout this fall, the A.S. has also set up much of the framework for undertakings in spring. Chun mentions an up-and-coming website for SMC students, which will notify them of events, provide a "carpool-matching system" to improve their commutes, and give more overall exposure to the A.S. "We've just been working on trying to make this organization function more efficiently," he said, "we're trying to make the student government thrive for next semester, and make the student voice more prevalent on this campus." The president reminisced about time before president by explaining that the A.S didn't listen to his needs.
New projects like SMC's adaptation to environmental awareness are an example of opening communication between the A.S., students and faculty. The responsibility of the "Garden Project," which will implement SMC's first own, organic garden outside the Art Complex, has fallen on the shoulders of the students and faculty.
Reportedly, SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang has recently signed The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which plans to make the campus completely "carbon neutral by a set date." "It's a very big task, requiring changing the very infrastructure of the campus," said Chun, "[and the A.S.] Is planning on working with the academic senate on this."
From attending several statewide conferences this semester to educate themselves on current issues which effect college students, to providing a weekly movie night for film-loving students who wish to relax and socialize, the A.S. members have certainly kept busy this semester.