Students present concerns to president

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Harley Williams, student government president, speaks to students during Pizza with the President March 22 in Loftin. Williams encouraged students to ask questions concerning accreditation, transfering credits to other colleges and courses at this school. Photo by Emily Garcia

Trustees are discussing rules for the Alamo Colleges to comply with the Texas gun law change.

By Bismarck D. Andino

Pizza with the President, which was intended to educate students from this college about SACSCOC 12-months warning on this college, turned into students’ concerns on internal issues.

More than 50 students showed up yesterday to this meeting in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student center, half of whom attended only to eat from the 65 orders of pizza.

Special guests like Chancellor Bruce Leslie and board chair and District 7 representative Yvonne Katz abandoned the meeting minutes after they saw apathy among students when asked to participate with questions.

Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning, performance and ITS, took a few minutes to explain to students how the 12-months warning started and reminded students that this college remains accredited.

“This whole process should be 100 percent transparent as what has happened, what has been done and the next steps,” Cleary said. He recommended students wanting more information about the recommendations go to this college’s website at

Lisa Zottarelli, SACSCOC liaison for this college, said each one of the standards and federal requirements that the SACSCOC identified has been analyzed.

“There were three board policies that needed to be addressed for Standard 3.2.6, and the board acted quickly,” Zottarelli said. “They addressed all three policies and now is responsibility of the college to ensure that the board’s actions and the board’s policy is reflected at the institution.”

Zottarelli also said this college is on a timeline to be in compliance with SACSCOC recommendations. The deadline to submit a complete report of this college’s actions is Sept. 8.

“SACSCOC board of trustees would then review all of our material and make a determination at the annual meeting in December,” she said.

“We are doing everything to bring ourselves within compliance in many of the areas … and there’s a few things with final details — we will clean those up and everything will be ready for our report that will be submitted early September,” Zottarelli said.

As the subject shifted to focus on students’ interest and concerns, architect freshman Adrian Garza didn’t leave the meeting without informing President Vela that although he loves this college, he does not feel valued. As an international student, Garza said it is hard for him to be heard. The international office is small and he has to wait for long hours to be helped.

Vela said they are hiring a new leader who understands international students like Garza to provide more opportunities for them.

Garza told The Ranger later that sometimes there is little help or none at all at this college’s international office.

“We have to do pretty much everything by ourselves,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to wait for an hour just to talk to somebody, and sometimes the process takes forever just to do something so easily as to change a visa status.”

Garza has to pay out of pocket and does not receive financial support from state or federal government.

“To an extent, he answered my question, but I think he could have been more precise, but he acknowledged the situation and the problem we are facing,” he said. “He knows there is an issue and he wants to fix it. I just don’t know exactly how.”

President Vela said this college supports diversity in response to a query about this college’s stand on sanctuary cities.

He said this college has about 700 DREAMers, and they are that diversity. He also invited student to visit the board of trustees meeting agenda on the Alamo Colleges website to find out about the resolution they recently approved, in which they encourage state leaders to work with these students.

On the other hand, liberal arts freshman and staff member Mike Elliott was concerned about the new Texas law that will permit individuals who have obtained a concealed handgun license to carry it loaded in college and university buildings.

Elliott told Vela that he hasn’t seen any update from this college as far as this law since it went into effect at four-year universities in fall. He also said the only article he has seen is from The Ranger, which was published in October 2015, but nothing from this college.

Vela said trustees are including this issue in their meeting agenda and that they have initiated recommendations to comply with this law.

He also said the board will review an “adoption of rules” in April, and potentially vote on it in May. This law will go into effect on Aug. 1 at all state 2-year colleges, including this one.

For more information, read “Board reviews campus carry policy.”


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