Santiago Canyon College student leaders promote benefits of on-campus experiences – Orange County Register

Lou Ponsi

Since being sworn in as the president of the Associated Student Government at Santiago Canyon College before the start of the fall 2023 semester, Gabe Lopez, along with his fellow officers, has prioritized bringing more students back to campus.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many SCC students continue to take classes online, Lopez said, and one way to draw them back is by offering experiences that can only be had on campus.

“I believe the community college system is very dynamic and able to serve a wide array of different demographics and people via online services,” said Lopez, who serves as ASG president through the end of the spring 2024 semester. “But we want to also bring people back, and there are some specific pathways that people can get more benefit from if they’re learning in person, not only because of the educational value but also that community value.”

One strategy is to create more awareness for programs that already exist such as the numerous clubs, athletics and cultural events, Lopez said.

“These programs can actually bring people on campus and keep them there,” Lopez said.

Last fall, for example, SCC hosted a variety of events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, including a film festival and a Hispanic Heritage Day.

“I had this couple come up and say, ‘We’re fully online but we came to SCC for the first time because of this event,’ ” Lopez said. “So, it’s a big priority of the ASG this year to hold events and bring as many students onto campus as possible. Luckily, we’ve been able to do that to a degree.”

For some students, food and housing insecurity is an issue, so creating more awareness about the Hawks Nest Basic Needs Center and Food Pantry is important, Lopez said.

Several other initiatives are currently working their way through the ASG’s legislative process, ASG Vice President Karelly Elizarraraz said. One is to provide more food offerings that meet the needs of SCC’s culturally diverse student population.

Through its participation in academic senate meetings, the ASG is working with professors and administrators to develop curriculums that will get students to campus and improve their chances for success, she said.

“I feel like they try to create very personal relationships so all the students can succeed,” said Elizarraraz, who is the only first-generation student serving in the ASG. “I’ve never seen a school or administration or a faculty so interested in making sure their students succeed.”

Another item making its way through the legislature is a resolution to make course syllabuses available far enough in advance to help students choose classes, the vice president said.

The mission of the ASG, as stated on the SCC website, is:

“To promote and engage in student representation and involvement by safeguarding collegial governance and representative democracy, to influence institutional policy affecting student affairs, to facilitate campuswide activities for the improvement of student life, and to provide a platform for the fundamental development of a cohesive and accountable group of student leaders at Santiago Canyon College.”

When first getting involved with ASG, Lopez acknowledged not being fully aware of all the functions of student government, but over time, the role of the ASG has become clearer.

“We serve as the main advocacy body for students,” Lopez said. “We go to the proper people and through the proper channels and be the voice of the students in the room when those conversations are happening.”

The structure of the ASG is like that of the U.S. government.

As president, Lopez oversees a 10-member cabinet made of commissioners who focus on different areas of the college.

Cabinet members include commissioners of sustainability, athletics, publicity, recruitment and other areas.

There are also 10 senators, who are either elected or appointed and serve as the legislative body and are overseen by the ASG vice president.

A judiciary branch ensures that the ASG bylaws are followed.

“It’s mainly working together as a team to create a change,” Lopez said.

Lopez and Elizarraraz are both graduating from SCC after the spring semester, and both intend on transferring to four-year universities.

Elizarraraz wanted to participate in ASG to help build leadership skills and learn to work as a team.

“In college, this is where you end up building relationships and networking with people,” she said. “I think it’s important to get involved to know what’s going on and to vote on certain things. And not only that, but I also want to represent all the first-generation Latino students because I’m the only one at that table and in a leadership position that’s first-generation Latina.”

To hold an ASG post, students must be enrolled in at least five units at SCC and maintain a GPA of at least 2.0, be enrolled in a RSCCD Adult Education program or be a currently enrolled SCC student with a verified disability on record with the office of Disabled Students Programs and Services.

ASG officers must follow the RSCCD Student Code of Conduct and fulfill the responsibilities associated with their office specified in the ASGSCC Bylaws.

“If I could have one thing etched on my tombstone at the end of my life, it is that I wanted to help solve problems and just be someone that contributes to a solution,” Lopez said. “I believe that being president of ASG will benefit me in being able to better understand what it takes to be able to solve problems and also just help the students at SCC.”

Lou Ponsi Local News,Uncategorized,community,community college,Education

2024-01-11 16:24:10 , Garden Grove News: The Orange County Register

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