OP-ED:Veteran’s Alliance Lacks Transparency
Tyler Dylan Brown
City College’s Veteran’s Alliance has a lack of transparency, and some officers have acted in ethically questionable ways.
Concerns have been raised by some students regarding the legitimacy of inter-club elections. This is especially pertinent as elections for fall 2012 club officer positions approach in May, and the Veteran’s Alliance is City College’s largest student club.
After the private ballots were collected last semester, several members of the club were approached by a candidate and questioned why they voted for his opponent. It troubles me that the simple act of voting could be held against someone simply because candidates were able to see to the ballots. No one should be bullied for their choice at the ballot box.
The last elections were also held with no debates, and some candidates openly slandered their opposition prior to the election. Candidates were left without a public discussion nor the ability to defend themselves against accusations. Mudslinging aside, some officer positions were filled interestingly to say the least.
Some parties ran for multiple positions and won all of them. Afterwards they resigned a position and appointed a non-elected club member instead. But concerns extend past shaky election practices and into the suppression of free speech..
Recently I was told by an officer of the Veteran’s Alliance that I was no longer allowed in the Veterans Resource Center at City College due to criticism and concerns I raised in the last issue of the Guardsman.
It is troubling that individuals who swore to defend the Constitution don’t even uphold its First Amendment – freedom of speech.
They are for freedom of speech, except for when it offends them. In the end it is only about what two or three officers want.
The student veterans club is meant to bring forth collaboration and to unite everyone within the veterans’ community, but many have been divided and forced out. A center that is meant to be a sanctuary for veterans has been engulfed by shameful tactics, and at least one club officer believes it is due to a leadership failure and inability to reach compromises.
Other concerns raised have been the general lack of communication with student veterans. There has been poor advertisement of meetings and general outreach towards student veterans.
I found it troubling when a public veteran’s panel was held, and I hardly saw any veterans in attendance. On April 12th I attended a veterans panel presentation in the Rosenberg Library with a number of speakers on the problems student veterans face in community college.
The main speaker of the afternoon was Dr. Joseph Bobrow with the Coming Home Project, which offers wilderness retreats as part of a rehabilitation program specifically for student veterans.
This is an amazing opportunity, and it makes me wonder how many student veterans are missing out on other opportunities simply because those trusted to inform the them, don’t.
It’s not easy for veterans to reach out and connect with other veterans, so it’s crucial to have a mobilized group that can properly advertise events.
“Student Veterans encounter a lot of difficulties re-adjusting simply because after service they want to take the path of least resistance,” Casey Conklin, outreach coordinator of the Downtown San Francisco Vet Center, said.
As well as having a website that is never updated, the Veterans Resource Center is nearly the only place meetings or information are advertised, which I can’t even access because I have been banned.
Given all of these concerns, I believe we should watch the coming club elections closely and demand transparency of the Veteran’s Alliance.
A student veteran’s club is an amazing community to have on campus and can be a tremendous resource, but we can’t settle for what we have now when we know it could be better.