The student news site of Skyline College.

The Skyline View

The student news site of Skyline College.

The Skyline View

The student news site of Skyline College.

The Skyline View

Associated Students of Skyline College suspends Myanmar Student Union

Joshua Stokes
Skyline College is home to the first ever overseas chapter of the Myanmar Student Union.

The Associated Students of Skyline College (ASSC) suspended the Skyline Myanmar Student Union (MSU) for breaking SMCCCD Club Procedures on Friday, Sept. 29.

The club is the first All Burma Federation of Student Unions chapter in the U.S. The club was invited to the first-ever Spring Revolution International Congress in Buffalo, New York.

“The congress discussed strategies for how to help and do whatever we can for our country,” said Vice President Martin Tun. “We decided to try to fundraise so members could attend the Spring Revolution, and that’s where the problems sort of begin.”

The SMCCCD District requires that if student clubs fundraise money, it must be allocated to a school account. The district policy states that “all money placed in off-campus accounts is subject to suspension.”

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The MSU fundraised through their “msu_skyline” Instagram account, and the money went to their personal accounts.

Four Skyline members of the MSU attended the Spring Revolution in Buffalo after fundraising all summer and covered most of the trip’s cost with their personal savings.

On Sept. 21, the Center for Student Life and Leadership Development (CSLLD) and the ASSC invited Tun and two other MSU executives to a closed-door meeting.

“They raised the issues of fundraising without consulting them, using the proper channels that we were supposed to, and then traveling without submitting documents,” Tun said. “Most of the issues were honest mistakes that we did, and we owned up to them during the meeting as well.”

Tun says he submitted all the receipts of their funding and travel expenses during that first meeting. He was told they needed to review it and everything would work out.

However, the ASSC then published a statement condemning the “unauthorized travel and use of funding” and that the club failed to provide a statement confirming their understanding of the situation.

Tun said the ASSC never gave MSU a deadline to provide the statement. The club scheduled a general member’s meeting to work on the statement. However, an employee kicked the members out.

“Our meeting was almost over when someone came over and said someone else booked this room for personal reasons, and MSU cannot be there,” Tun said. “But we looked around, and no one else was trying to use the room.”

The club was frustrated that the ASSC put out a notice saying they failed to provide a statement and work in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the ASSC. They felt like they were not given a chance.

Tun also mentioned that in that initial meeting, the CSLLD and ASSC stated that they must submit paperwork and get approval to attend political protests. That is where Tun and the MSU believe the policies became questionable.

He explained that sometimes protests are organized overnight if there is an emergency and that they cannot wait for faculty approval in those instances.

“I think they got confused when we sent out this petition instead of a statement,” said Tun. “But our plan wasn’t to retaliate against them; this is a separate issue.”

On October 3, MSU met with the Skyline President, Vice President, CSLLD, ASSC, and faculty. In their second meeting, they discussed realistic requirements to recharter the club.

Tun believes that the issue over the club’s trip to Buffalo is mainly resolved. He remains focused on his new goal of changing the club field trip policy. He believes the policy is not ideal. It states there must be one advisor for every ten club members.

“The ASSC club advisors, they get paid. So it’s easy for them to say that an advisor should be present for every ten club members,” Tun said. “But for other advisors, they’re professors or other positions at school. It’s not as easy or realistic.”

Thus began Tun and other members’ presentations to Skyline classes on their call to action to sign their petition to “Defend our Rights to Speak Out Against Oppression.”

After the Skyline VP of Instruction, Vinicio López, received word of the presentations, he emailed Skyline faculty.

“Rather than share the benefits of club participation, they have made derogatory and disrespectful remarks about ASSC leadership and their employees.”

López furthered that MSU claimed their free speech was being suppressed by ASSC. He was assured by ASSC leadership that there was no truth to this claim.

“The Instruction Office does not want to impede what you do or who you invite in your classrooms, that is your academic freedom,” said López. “I ask that you consider this information. They are not currently active and have not been forthright about the events that have transpired and are now creating a hostile working environment for ASSC Classified Professionals as well as their leadership.”

Tun denies that he or any other members of MSU made disrespectful comments about the ASSC.

“We have never done it, and we want to have another meeting to specifically resolve that issue,” said Tun. “They’re claiming that we have been derogatory and that they feel unsafe when we were literally kicked out of our meeting room.”

Student Life and Leadership Manager Alvin Gubatina explained that López sent the email because he heard from students in the classroom that MSU claimed that Student Life and ASSC were infringing or oppressing their right to free speech and assembly.

“It just came as a surprise to me as well, considering just how quickly everything happened within the week,” said ASSC Vice President Sarah Ruiz. “It was just a lot to wrap my brain around as a person and as a student leader in general, seeing how all of it played out.”

The petition states that MSU “[does] not claim nor represent the whole of Skyline College community as the SOCC advisor stated.”

Ruiz explained that when you register as a club under Skyline College, they understand that they represent Skyline. So when MSU went to New York, they were representing Skyline College. This is why Ruiz and Gubatina needed clarification on their claim.

“I got into communication with the VPSS and the President because, honestly, we felt like this was an escalation,” said Gubatina.

The petition came after Gubatina explained that there was no way for them to change the club advisor policy surrounding field trips as it is an SMCCCD District policy.

For MSU to recharter their club, they must complete the following steps: provide financial statements, find a new club advisor, remove the wording “dues to access the club,” and give their rechartering presentation.

“We want them to be a club on campus, and we want them to serve students in Myanmar who are politically active,” said Gubatina. “If they want to be politically active, the most impactful way to do that is through the systems already in place to create change rather than just doing something that they believe would get them an audience with certain people.”

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