On October 6th, the Ranger posted the article “Stand up to be Heard”, an opinion piece that offers some reasonable advice on addressing issues, but I wanted to expand upon that and offer my own insight as a member of the board.
Citizens-to-be-Heard is a public forum where anyone can sign up and speak for three minutes to the board. A well prepared argument built upon facts builds a much stronger case than unbridled emotion. Board members cannot directly respond during Citizens-to-be-Heard, but it gives us things to consider, and depending on the presentation, can carry weight when a decision has to be made. It’s important to try and address issues sooner than later, as fighting issues after a vote has been made will most likely fail. This was not the case with e-books, but we’ll address why that’s the exception, and not the norm later.
Research the facts. Being emotional about a change can drive passion, which in turn can lead to action. What we do with those actions can determine our ultimate effect on the problem. Pouring that passion into researching facts and building a case is significantly more important than unbridled anger. It’s difficult for the board to ignore facts, regardless of what motivated the initiative. If you can provide useful, well sourced facts, then you might have a chance to sway some board members to your side. Just as a child tunes out their parents when they are being yelled out, you have to consider how you present the material and how best to garner the full attention of the board.
Attend committee meetings. The board usually has committee meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. The majority of policy is discussed at these meetings and is voted forward at that time. Most committees are comprised of 3 board members who vote to move a motion to the regular board meeting. If the motion does not have majority, it does not move forward. That means the best time to present your case is at the committee hearings, where the number of votes needed is much smaller than at a regular board meeting.
Work with the SGA (Student Government Association). The SGA is designed to address student concerns. Working with the representatives inside the organization can help in providing a path and a strategy in facing some of the concerns students might have. The SGA will also have the resources and time to assist in research, and can often provide clarity to an issue. Students have a representative on the board as well, and they should utilize this resource to the best of their ability.
Reach out to your representative. If you live in Bexar County, then you have a board member who represents your district. I personally represent the 8th District, which is North Central San Antonio. If you feel that you are not being heard, you should try and reach out to your representative. All board members are elected officials and it is our duty to represent the will of our constituents with regard to the Alamo Colleges. If the board feels pressure from their constituents, then you might have a chance of changing some minds.
Talk to others and get them involved. You can’t do anything alone. It sends a very powerful message when you can present 100 people concerned about an issue instead of 10. Even still petition with over 1000 signatures from students and constituents can be a very difficult piece to ignore.
Don’t be disappointed. It is easy to be discouraged when you fight for something and lose the battle. It’s important to keep in mind that the world does not stop even if you do. Issues will still come up, there will still be multiple view points, and everyone will have an opinion. Being actively involved in the political process can help in preventing bad policies from moving forward before they became major issues. You should be aware of who your representative are, and never be afraid to reach out to them when you have concerns. It’s your right as a citizen, and their job as representatives.