Students addressed questions or concerns to SGA officers and advisers.
By Kimberly Caballero
The Student Government Association scheduled Pizza with the President April 4 for students to engage in a Q&A with the college president and the executive team.
Not in attendance: President Robert Vela and the executive team.
Vela told The Ranger in an April 4 interview that he wished he could have attended Pizza with the President and he is willing to reschedule.
“I love doing it because it’s a conversation with the students and it’s always very positive,” Vela said. “I wanted to be there and I needed to be there, but it didn’t work out. My health didn’t allow me to be there.”
Vela said he fell off of a ladder March 17 while cleaning gutters on his home.
The fall broke his humerus bone and tore his bicep in his right arm.
He said he returned to the office April 3 but overdid it and did not feel well enough to return April 4.
Public relations Director Vanessa Torres in an April 4 email gave the reason the event was canceled.
“Traditionally, Pizza with the President is a chance for students to speak directly to the president; therefore, it was decided that the event should be cancelled instead of replacing him with the College Executive Team,” Torres wrote.
Vela said he made the decision for vice presidents not to attend the event in his place.
Dr. Stella Lovato, vice president of college services, was charged with taking care of college business on his behalf, and Dr. Jothany Blackwood, vice president for academic success, was out for the day.
He said it would not have been fair to Dr. Lisa Alcorta, vice president for student success, to cover everything.
Although the college executive team consists of Vela, the three vice presidents and four deans, Vela said only he and the vice presidents had planned to attend the event.
Vela said after he had to cancel, he hoped SGA could capture the questions students had and present them to him at a later time.
“If we want to reschedule, I don’t mind doing it again before the semester is up,” Vela said. “That will be up to SGA to decide if they want to do that. I hope SGA will consider doing one right before finals.”
SGA President Kayla Salwey said April 4 that she did not know if SGA would reschedule because it is so close to the end of the semester.
At the event, 161 people rotated in and out of Room 120 of the visual arts center for the opportunity to eat pizza and have a dialogue with administrators, SGA Vice President La-Tieka Sims said.
This event is planned once a semester, and SGA began promoting the event in early March by distributing flyers throughout campus and at Ranger Con and Puppy Days.
SGA Adviser Nicole France, senior coordinator of outreach and recruitment parental network, received a voicemail the morning of the event from administrative specialist Janet Lozano informing her Vela would not be attending the event.
After arriving, students learned the president would not be in attendance.
In the absence of administrators, Salwey and Sims addressed questions.
“If there are concerns, questions, anything that you guys have that you did plan on presenting to Dr. Vela, feel free to ask us. We’ll do our best to answer. If it’s something we’re not sure about and we need to take it to the executive team, we do meet with Dr. Vela once a month,” Sims said.
Suggestion forms were available for those who wanted their questions or concerns delivered directly to administrators. The forms included “suggestions” and “my suggestions would benefit” sections. Students had the option to remain anonymous.
SGA will present those suggestions on April 19 at Pan Dulce with the President, a closed meeting between SGA officers and the president and vice presidents.
After presenting suggestions to Vela, the association will contact the student to relay the president’s answer, Salwey said.
English sophomore Josue Ulloa asked if there is a way to waive the TSI exam, referring to the Texas Success Initiative exam required by the state upon entering the Alamo Colleges.
The TSI can be a barrier for students who would like to take college-level courses but are unable to place high enough on the exam to enter those courses, Ulloa said.
Sims explained the value of the TSI exam, saying if students were to bypass developmental classes they need, they might not be successful in higher-level courses.
Melissa Sutherland, psychology professor and SGA adviser, expanded on the topic when asked why students cannot pay out of pocket to take any college-level class they want regardless of their TSI placement.
“We have to follow state laws, and federal laws, in order to keep receiving financial aid,” Sutherland said. “We’re a facility that they send financial aid through to students, to be able to keep that status we have to follow their laws. TSI is a law. We have to give that test, and we have to place based upon that.”
Liberal arts sophomore Shania Belcher questioned the intent of graphic abortion photos previously displayed on campus.
Love of Truth Ministries displays the graphic images on campus periodically during the academic year.
Salwey replied that SGA is a non-partisan group that encourages freedom of speech; however, the association is going to present a policy suggestion to Vela at Pan Dulce with the President.
The policy proposal mandates, “A group or organization from off campus needs to be sponsored by a student organization or faculty member here at San Antonio College to be able to come on campus.”
As sponsors of the event, SGA initially funded the 40 boxes of pizza, 216 sodas and three 24-packs of water distributed at the event, but Vela said he will reimburse the association.
The refreshments cost between $200 and $250, France said.