By Caoilinn Goss
The Associated Student Council of Ocean Campus (ASCO) fielded student questions about campus safety, reversing class cuts, and expanding student representation at a Town Hall meeting in the Student Union on Wednesday, March 4th.
The ASCO responded to questions regarding the vetoed Bridge Fund, last fall’s bomb scare on Ocean Campus, and facilities breaking down.
One student raised questions regarding the canceled older adults courses and challenged the chancellor’s ability to do his job.
“We have taken a stance on class cuts, we are not in support of class cuts,” ASCO President Angelica Campos said in response. “We do agree that we need to find a way to balance our budget, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of all the programs that are being affected.”
Expanding student representation became a major theme of the night. The senators urged the students present to join one of the committees that make up the Participatory Governance Council (PGC) in order to be part of the solution to the issues raised.
Most of the students who sit on ASCO also represent the student body in several other capacities.
Senator Katarina Spisz, for example, serves on the Rules and Regulations Committee, Public Relations Committee, and is Vice-Chair of the Multicultural Affairs Committee.
“This town hall is an eye-opener in terms of shedding more light on Participatory Governance Committees,” Tupou Drake, an attendee who works with Students Supporting Students said. “I don’t think too many people really know about them and what they do.”
The PGC, and the committees that make up this body, advise the chancellor on the budget, college initiatives, Board of Trustees policy, administrative procedures, etc. The council includes members of staff, faculty, administrators, and the student body.
Several ASCO senators assured the audience that they shared their concerns about the way the administration is budgeting funds and that they have advocated for more transparency. They also pointed out that their role is advisory, and that they do not have any power to make budgetary decisions themselves.
“We do our best to hold the administration accountable if we don’t feel like our questions are being answered,” Rodriguez said. “We also have to realize that they’re not always going to have a clear cut answer for us. There are people above them, too, that also don’t have answers. So it’s a tough spot to be in.”
Senator Xianna Rodriguez serves on the Associated Student Council at Ocean Campus, as well as the Finance Committee.
Reflecting on the event’s success, ASCO members admitted there was room for improvement and growth.
“The turnout could have been better,” Rodriguez said. “We need to do more outreach, get the word out more. Not only with flyers and social media, but with actually talking to people in person and making announcements in classrooms.”
Spisz agreed that outreach was a factor in the turnout, and also mentioned that they hoped to address some sound issues for their next event, as the meeting was not properly equipped and audience members had to ask the ASCO senators to speak up several times throughout the event.
“I really appreciate all the students who did show up and expressed their concerns,” Spisz said. “As a council, we’re going to come together and reflect on what everyone said and see what we can do to help support you all.”
You can follow ASCO on Instagram and Twitter @ascocean to learn more about campus events and find out more about joining a PGC.