Fulfilling campaign promises

ASGsliderSince beginning their one-year terms on July 1, the 2013-2014 Bellevue College Associated Student Government has served 96 days in office. Elected ASG representatives campaigned on platforms related to increasing the student voice at BC, the need for BC to better support students, lowering tuition and increasing awareness of extracurricular opportunities.

ASG President Zawdie Terry pledged in his election campaign that he planned to “reduce what it costs to attend BC.” Tuition and fee rates are set by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges which acts on legislative authority. According to the BC website, “tuition rates for the 2013-2014 academic year are unchanged from the 2012-2013 academic year.”

When asked to comment, neither Terry nor the ASG president’s Media Liaison Marshall Lee responded by press time.

Terry additionally pledged to “create more cultural awareness and more opportunities for students to make policy through holding campus forums and developing an active student senate.”

When asked to comment, neither Terry nor the ASG president’s Media Liason responded by press time.

In recent weeks, some members of Student Programs have criticized Terry’s decision to appoint a chief of staff, executive assistant and PR office media liaison to assist in the ASG president’s duties. However, in a Watchdog survey of 100 BC students, 56 percent of survey participants stated they agreed with Terry’s decision. “It is a task that involves and is for all students,” stated one student, adding “it isn’t possible for one person to fulfill all student expectations without some kind of team effort.”

When asked to comment on his decision, neither Terry nor the ASG president’s Media Liaison responded by press time.

ASG Vice President of Student Affairs and Pluralism Andrea Torres pledged during her campaign to “work with administration to ensure all students have the support that they need to achieve their educational goals … [by] making higher education more accessible through financial support as well as physical, [and] emotional help.” 21 percent of survey participants felt BC has been more supportive of students’ educational goals since Torres took office.

“I never feel supported from the college itself. It’s only been through the educators,” said student Jennifer Bacon. Bacon has been attending BC on and off since 2006.

“Honestly, I will never be done fulfilling this promise because there will always be a new issues that come up … [but] if there is even a chance that it will become a barrier for students, then it’s my reason to be involved,” said Torres.

Torres’ goal for the remainder of her term is to get more students involved in campus activities while keeping an open dialogue between the ASG and administration. In winter quarter, she plans to focus her efforts toward events and awareness workshops.

ASG Vice President of Finance and Communication Leslie Mayo pledged to “make a change in the communication there is between the students and the ASG. I want to make sure students know they can come to the ASG to have their voices heard.” 73 percent of survey participants stated they have not seen an improvement in the communication between students and the ASG since the election. 71 percent of the survey participants stated they were not aware BC had a student government.

“I feel … [the ASG] doesn’t focus enough on helping the student body become more aware that they are customers of BC,” said student James Sanderson, adding “there is so much power there, students need to become more involved in every aspect that impacts student and campus life.”

When asked to comment, Mayo did not respond by press time.

ASG Marketing and Public Relations Representative Miranda Tamnkang pledged in her campaign to “change … student awareness on campus … and make students more interested and motivated for opportunities” offered on campus. 26 percent of survey participants acknowledged an increased awareness of and interest in the opportunities on BC campus as a result of marketing by the ASG.

“I feel like there is definitely some effort being put into [engaging students], but not really quite enough to draw people in,” said BC student Marissa Meyer. “There are signs around … they have been putting an effort into it, I just don’t think it’s super effective.”

When asked to comment, Tamnkang did not respond by press time.

ASG Campus Life and Events Representative Melody Salcedo pledged to students that she “could help BC achieve a higher rate of graduates because … students who are involved in extra activities will have extra motives to stay in school.” She stated an intent to “change the way we market clubs and reach the students who we have not been able to reach.” 44 percent of survey participants felt awareness of student clubs and campus life opportunities on campus had increased since the election.

“[The ASG] always has the big galas and the big events and the BBQ, but I really don’t think about [the ASG] in my day to day student school life,” said BC student Danny Lacker, adding “I would say that … engagement doesn’t seem like it’s the first thing that I’m getting out of their service.”

Salcedo was out of town on school-related business and could not be reached for comment by press time.

ASG Chief Justice Komalpreet Sahota campaigned on a platform of creating a campus environment free of discrimination and bringing a greater cultural awareness to BC.

Sahota has been working on a revision of the Associated Students of Bellevue College’s by-laws. 85 percent of survey participants were unaware of the current bylaws and guidelines for BC campus.

Sahota has also been working with students to start a South Asian Student Association. She intends to spend the remainder of her term “making students more aware of the cultures on campus as well as the laws and guidelines of the campus … [because] it will remind students to treat others with respect and dignity.”

Sahota has also noted plans to work on the current parking system with the Judicial Board and administration. Additionally, she hopes to increase student interest towards involvement with the ASG prior to the next election.

ASG Associate Justice of Internal Affairs Kazuki Yonebayashi ran under the slogan “I will fight for our students’ rights.” Since election, she has worked with staff and faculty on the Student Success Task Committee as well as partnered with OSLA and members of ASG to create the 2013-2014 Student Survey to determine student needs.

“I will never give up on improving each student’ life during my term. Students have the right to achieve their goals at Bellevue College,” said Yonebayashi. “I will [help them] achieve [their goals] by working together with people within the BC community.”

ASG Associate Justice of External Affairs Natasha Wijoyo pledged during her campaign to “provide a more integrative system for programs and clubs at school, so students can get the best support for their education at Bellevue College.”

“This is not a one-time goal, but it is a process,” said Wijoyo. “I am working on constructing the roots, and all that I’m doing is only possible with the support of the students that I am serving [in order] for me to … fulfill my promise. My position is by students and for students.”

Wijoyo is currently revising the chartering procedure prospective clubs must undergo. She hopes the new process will ease the process for existing clubs when re-chartering and encourage students to make more clubs.

ASG Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Representative Chanmi Choi pledged to improve the available Wi-Fi for students campus-wide, as well as create and manage blogs for each BC club. Choi has currently taken a leave of absence for the remainder of the quarter duets personal matters and was not available for comment.

ASG Environmental and Social Responsibility Representative Alex Clark ran a campaign based on his past work and experience with the Sustainable Food Advisory Group and a vow to “work tirelessly to make student voice [s] heard and considered in decision making.”

Clark has been attending committee hearings, Bellevue City Council meetings and city planning sessions in order to represent students. He will also be attending the upcoming meetings concerning housing and transportation changes in the Bellevue community. Clark has also been successful in a campaign to label food allergens in the BC cafeteria, expand the organic food selection and provide non-pork options.

Clark said his goals for the remainder of his term are to expand land devoted to food production on campus, increase local and organic options in the cafeteria and create an on-campus food bank.

“I will achieve these goals by working with  [the] administration on creating a food production program that will last past my tenure, continue my work in the food committee and partner with a non-profit to see the creation of the food bank,” said Clark.