Town hall meeting heeded City College student voices

 

By Dakari Thomas

City College held a three-hour legislative Town Hall meeting on Oct. 31 to address the concerns of students that included topics including the accessibility of financial aid, campus safety and information distribution

Several directors and delegates for the Student Senate of California Community Colleges (SSCCC) discussed what SSCCC regional affair director Tabitha Romero called “productive and informative.”

“Last year alone the Bay Area forfeited over $33 million in Pell Grants just to students not filling out the application,” SSCCC Regional Affairs Manager Jake Brymner said. “We have to block these barriers out so that students aren’t confused or discouraging the process that stops people from getting aid. It sometimes ultimately decides if they enroll to our schools.”

Hands-on discourse allowed the some 15 students to challenge the solutions and future plans introduced, as well as to give feedback on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process and the recent changes to the Board of Governors (BOG) fee waiver.

In what used to be a waiver that most students qualified for to remove their enrollment fees on a needs-based criteria, the BOG fee waiver has new academic requirements that may correlate with a drop in enrollment.

BOG member Hasun Khan ensures that the new policy changes have affected the bigger-picture goal of supplying students who need assistance.

“When you look at state options as it pertains to tuition coverage, we’re leading the nation. We have around $2.3 million and cover around half of them,” Khan said.

Another problem addressed was the statement that City College should be treated differently due to the college’s large population and multiple campuses, and should not put in the same category as traditional community colleges with only one campus and much fewer students.

“Most schools are sectioned off into groups. Peralta Community College District is comprised of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College,” said Jonathan Leigh, president of the City College Ocean Campus Associated Student Council. “They all only have one campus; City College itself is eight different campuses in one city.”

What stands in the way of this proposal is 30,000 of the college’s 70,000 students not being full-time, credited students—”student leaders.”

“With only 1.5 out of 2.5 students able to be student leaders, we can’t recruit out of the entire group of students we have. We also can’t advocate for those students’ needs as well,” Leigh said.

When asked if she was dejected by the attendance or if there was a silver lining, Romero expressed encouragement.

“We didn’t expect a large turnout due to the some of the issues established in the meeting with student leaders, but just the discourse in general for who showed up was really encouraging,” Romero said. “I feel like we’re making progress and making students aware of the power they have.”

Though this is City College’s last Town Hall meeting for 2016, there will continue to be multiple meetings concerning California’s community colleges across the Bay Area.

For more information, visit http://www.studentsenateccc.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/ssccc.region.iii .