According to recent evidence, the Associated Students of Skyline College, the elected student government which controls and delegates the expenditure of student body fees, fails to effectively reach out and effectively represent the students it serves.
An informal, random survey of Skyline’s day and night class students was conducted by The Skyline View during the week of April 11, at various locations on Skyline’s campus. This survey reveals that one in 40 people knows what the ASSC is. This number translates to about two percent of the total number of enrolled Skyline College students.
The survey posed the following question to Skyline students: “As a student of Skyline College, do you know what the ASSC is?”
Thirty-nine of these forty students did not know what the ASSC is.
The ASSC student government council controls expenditure of student body fees. Fees support programs and events for students, as well as student-sponsored activities, according to Skyline College’s class schedule, definition of fees. This school year, the sum of $112,534.00 in student body fees was paid by Skyline students between July 1, 2004 and Feb. 28, 2005, with an additional accumulated $111,656.33 of student money currently being held in the Skyline students’ restricted checking account, according to Amory Cariadus, advisor to the ASSC.
However, few events or activities were planned this year, according to ASSC student President Ilka Barcala.
“We haven’t done much in the way of activities, but we still do represent students when we go to committee meetings, in order to ensure shared governance,” Barcala said.
Barcala explained that the ASSC tries to reach out to students through planned events and activities. Barcala said the ASSC always prepares enough food to accomodate 400 to 500 people, while many of the attendees are facilities people, workers, professors, visitors and administrators, and that there is no way to track the numbers of student who attend.
Barcala acknowledges that a very low number of students know what the ASSC is and what it does, but said she thinks the ASSC did its best this year to reach out to students, although it’s not very effective at all if only two percent know about the ASSC.
“A lot of students have their own lives that they’re busy with. That’s all I can think of. I’m only surmising,” Barcala said. “Bottom line: if you care about your rights as a student, get involved. If someone can come up with a better system, let them come on council. I’m not perfect, I’m only one person.”
Although the $8 student body fee is optional, students who do not wish to pay the student body fee must first pay it, then request reimbursement afterwards from the cashier’s office, according to Amory Cariadus, adviser to the ASSC.
According to San Mateo County Community College District records, 485 of 16,548 enrolled students at Skyline College in the fall 2004 and spring 2005 semesters requested reimbursement of the automatically assessed fee, collected when students pay for their classes.
Skyline student Margie Talavera, who was not aware of the existence of the ASSC, took a look for the first time at ASSC council minutes.
“I had no idea these funds were available and how they’re being spent. As individuals, we have a responsibility to be aware of things going on around us. But, I come to this cafeteria at least once or twice a week and I didn’t know there was such a thing,” Talavera said.
She continued, “At least they (students in the cafeteria) make themselves known, but I didn’t know about this group (the ASSC). They don’t represent me. They just represent.”
Skyline student Robert Cozad was pleased to know that perhaps some of the money he pays in student body fees goes toward a good cause.
Cariadus said she thinks the ASSC has worked hard to represent students but acknowledges the small number of students who know about ASSC.
“The students should know how their money is spent. I’ve been encouraging (the ASSC) to pursue other outreach methods to students because it’s important that students know how their money is spent. I encourage it every year.”
Cariadus said they could do a better job of outreach, but she does think it’s still fair to charge students the student body fees.
The minutes of the Oct. 13, 2004, ASSC meeting record a motion to place a sign in the cafeteria informing students how much the ASSC is spending. The motion did not pass.
The ASSC voted at one of its council meetings this year not to let students know how their money is spent. In addition, internal ASSC conflict resulted in the recent filing of a grievance by one of the ASSC members, Commissioner of Activites Bivett Thompson. Thompson charged the ASSC with numerous violations as well as spending thousands of students’ funds on out-of-state student leadership conferences, although council members don’t go to local student government conferences to learn leadership skills. The grievance is currently being investigated by Skyline College administration.
As of Feb. 28, The students have spent $29,727.45 on operating expenses Cariadus said. Since then, $12,890 has gone to funding the following:
Phi Theta Kappa $3,000Jumpstart $3,500Journalism $4,390Skyline scholarships $2,000.
The ASSC council elections for next school year are nearly underway, and Barcala hopes this will help the ASSC promote awareness of its existence to Skyline students.
“I have the hope that ASSC members will let students know about elections by making presentations in their classes, if they’re allowed by their teachers,” Barcala said.