By A. Whitès
“Unity Day is a campus-wide event for students to come have fun, learn about clubs and resource programs, and get to know one another!” says the Inter Club Council Web page. More than 100 students attended — a tawdry figure considering the student population for the academic year 2022-2023 is 16,134. But the event has potential to truly unite the campus community.
I first attended on November 2, 2023, at City College of San Francisco. I didn’t know about the event until I reached out to the Associated Student Council during and after the election of our new student body members.
In many of the candidates’ statements, they said they would like to have more activities on campus to bring the student body together. I’m totally on board with that; especially since COVID-19 isolated us all. One of those candidates, who eventually won the presidency, is Jaafar Ben Khaled. I made an appointment with him to discuss my ideas of how we can bring the student body together. He seemed impressed enough to invite me to speak at the Associated Students Council of Ocean Campus (ASCO) meeting that Wednesday afternoon during the public comment period. (All members of the public are welcome to attend any meetings and agenda item requests can be made by anyone!)
Some students and faculty have voiced that they miss the in-person experience and have longed for in-person classes. Other students say they want to experience campus life again. So if Unity Day gives students an opportunity to have fun and get to know one another, why wasn’t the turnout that great?
I came to Unity Day not only as a student, but as a “secret shopper.” Like many students, I wondered, “What’s in it for me?” For the most part, people manning the booths were great at greeting me and telling me what they were about. Even Rocky the Ram was there. Rocky was so happy to see me and truly made me feel welcome. They really appeared interested and caring about their causes. But there were a few booths where the people did not acknowledge me.
I stood at the booth of the engineering club where people played computer games on a monitor that everyone could watch. It seemed they were more engrossed in the games than they were in getting members. Plus I was confused as to what computer games had to do with engineering. Exactly what type of engineering are we talking about? Mechanical? Technical? Social? Utility? Computer? I have a wild hunch the representatives of that club don’t know the various types of “engineering” courses offered at CCSF let alone their own club’s purpose. And they didn’t seem that serious in recruiting new members.
Another booth I went to was that for the Chinese club. I began taking notes about not being acknowledged after examining the booth for some time. Then a person noticed I was taking notes and asked if I wanted to know about the club. Basically, he told me it’s a social club for Chinese-speaking students. I thought, “That sort of goes against Unity Day.” And I asked a question that I felt would imply more inclusivity. I asked the representative how he learned the Chinese “syllabary” because I found it tedious to keep writing the strokes over and over and have to memorize all the meanings. That sparked a conversation that we could both relate to. He agreed about the monotony and said that’s the way people are taught. I told him the Japanese department used to have a Kanji class, but it was cut. I suggested, “It would be cool if the Chinese department and the Japanese department got together and offered a kanji class inviting both language students who need to learn the writing method. He even said members of the club can help tutor anyone learning to read, write, or speak Chinese. (I wonder if he realized I gave his club a new mission of inclusivity?)
Among the clubs that acknowledged me, one was the entrepreneurship club. I found out from one of the students that my entrepreneurship professor is still very much involved in the program. I was happy to hear that and asked if this was the business club. It turns out they’re separate and were located across from each other. I chose to visit that booth after visiting the neighboring AI club booth, where I learned the club’s mission is to sit around and discuss AI. Honestly, I don’t need to join a club to do that. So I probed and asked what else the club does. When the rep said the members brainstorm on invention ideas, I asked why they weren’t involved with the entrepreneurship club to bring those ideas to reality. I informed her that my final in ENTR101 involved pitching my invention idea in front of a panel of invited angel investors and that one of my schoolmates got funding for his idea. She gaped at me. I said, “Yeah, you two (clubs) should talk.”
Another booth I visited was that for the English department. A librarian was at this booth, and she had publications of poetry written by CCSF students, which I found fascinating. Her booth also invited students to become English tutors. I mentioned I tried to become a tutor through the library but was told I had to be a teaching assistant or be going for a teaching degree. I felt that was excessive to just help a fellow schoolmate. She agreed and said the library has two programs and that the librarian I spoke to at that time probably confused one program for the other. She encouraged me to contact her saying they can use student tutors.
Finally, I spoke with the representative of the business club. I informed her that I am a student member of the American Marketing Association and they’re “hurting” for student members and encourage chapter formation on campuses. It was the first time she had ever heard of the AMA.
But before visiting the business club’s booth, the second to last booth I visited was that of the Associated Students Council of the Ocean Campus. I told the President Khaled that I probably missed the crowd because I came during the last half of the event. He said midterms probably affected attendance, which made me think: “Why not have Unity day on a Flex Day?”
Another question that came to mind is “Why is Unity Day targeted to students?” Shouldn’t we have a harmonious relationship with faculty as well? The librarian was there. Shouldn’t faculty participate too? And like the symbiotic relationship the clubs should have, so should the various departments on campus.
Available to every student is a document stating what courses are necessary to obtain a certificate, AS degree, or AA degree in the desired field of study. Meeting people who can help you achieve that degree or certificate can be very assuring before taking the plunge in your academic goals. Though you may have done an assessment to help you figure out what you’d be good at doing, you may discover something you didn’t know was available to you just from a conversation with an expert professor.
And those professors who can help you achieve your goals depend on the students who enroll at City College. Keeping abreast of what’s happening with them can give you insight as to what courses are available to you. The more students enroll in a class, the better the chance the course will be available.
So from what I saw, Unity Day is a little disjointed. It could be more inclusive if clubs talked to each other and got to know each other’s purpose. And if the clubs know their missions, they would be able to better grow their memberships, expose and explore their symbiotic relationships to other campus clubs and the student body; thus, increasing student participation on Unity Day and possibly boosting student enrollment at the school. Plus it would be nice to have it on Flex Day and incentivize professors to use some of that time to initiate relationships with their potential students to create buzz about their courses.
COVID has separated us, but we don’t have to be alone now. Unity Day should be every day by getting to know the people on your campus and by creating a supportive environment for everyone. And who knows, you may even see Rocky on campus. He’ll make you feel right at home.
About the writer:
A. Whitès is a part-time student achieving her marketing certificate at CCSF.