SGA first stop for student concerns

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PAC coalition upset with student trustee’s performance.

By Bleah B. Patterson

bpatterson13@alamo.edu

Students should take concerns about college or district issues to their college’s student government associations, Karen Elliot, SGA president of this college, said.

“Things go more smoothly when you go through the process, instead of bypassing it,” Elliot said.

She was referring to a backlash against Jacob Wong, student trustee of the Alamo Colleges, who has been criticized for not representing all students in the district.

PAC’s Student Leadership Coalition is calling for a recall.

Wong said he cannot represent the concerns of a student organization at one college unless that college’s SGA brings it to his attention.

His charge as student trustee is to deal with the bigger picture, issues affecting all five Alamo Colleges.

Kristie Tarin, a member of the coalition, emailed Wong on Wednesday, “… You are supposed to be acting as the direct voice for the students as you are one of us. You are not doing your job as the student representative.”

Wong was selected by the district board of trustees as a non-voting student representative in the spring.

His term ends May 8.

Each college nominated a student for the position.

During an interview with The Ranger Oct. 19, Wong said, “Students don’t pay for all of their tuition. Bexar County residents pay a portion of that. Students should be responsible with that money and not waste time taking courses that aren’t transferrable.”

Wong said community colleges are affordable because taxpayers pay for most of it. Tuition and fees make up 35 percent of the Alamo Colleges budget with local property taxes, state reimbursements, state and federal grants and other sources contributing 60 percent.

Tarin responded to Wong’s quote in the email, on behalf of PAC students, writing “Where do you get the satisfaction in saying the state pays for our education so we need to get in and get out? Do you realize there are students paying out of pocket for everything? I work hard and I still get financial aid … not everyone gets paid minimum wage nor work full time and even still financial aid may not be enough.

“I feel you need to be reminded that you were selected and not elected,” Tarin wrote. “In fact, how would you do if you had to run against your peers? We … feel that having one representative is not enough and will be pushing for more, and in some cases some of your fellow students at SAC, feel that you are not even a good voice.”

Wong said to the best of his knowledge the coalition has not spoken with PAC’s SGA.

No one from the coalition or PAC’s student government has returned The Ranger’s phone calls.

Wong said students at PAC may not understand the bottom-up process the Student Government Associations districtwide have established.

“If the SGAs aren’t telling me this is an issue, I can’t do anything about it. There are processes for a reason,” Wong said.

He said students need to approach their SGA presidents, and twice a month SGA officials at each of the five colleges meet with Wong at Student District Council, or SDC.

“From there I can make sure the board and administrators know how students feel,” Wong said.

Andrew Hubbard, former SGA president of this college, said he created SDC when Wong was elected because during his term Chancellor Bruce Leslie said it would be necessary if students wanted a trustee.

In Wong’s email response to Tarin he wrote, “To ensure a student trustee could not ‘go rogue’ we the leadership (district council, student trustees, and SGAs) abide by a bottom-up structure that I am sure most students at PAC were not aware of. Please direct your Student Government to represent your concerns to the Student District Council to ensure your specific concerns are addressed.”

Hubbard said SGA, the board of trustees, the Presidents and Vice Chancellor Committee known as PVC, the student trustee position, the college presidents and the SDC work together for shared governance.

“Faculty Senate, Staff Council, College Council and SGA all work together within a college to make sure the president is aware of collegewide concerns,” he said.

Hubbard also said it is the responsibility of the president to deal with any problems students are having within their particular college.

Only if an issue is raised at all five colleges does it come to the agenda during the SDC meetings, and only during the SDC meeting are issues brought to Wong’s attention, he said.

“We have to speak as one unified voice,” Hubbard said. Otherwise the voices drown each other out.”

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