As a former student leader at American River College, I’ve noticed several stories popping up regarding the Student Senate. Most of them quite negative, and most of that negativity uncalled for. I want to correct some factual errors I’ve found but more importantly, debunk this idea that it is okay to berate these volunteers, and that doing so effectively turns students off of participation.
In regards to accusations that the board is spending “Student Money” on the End-of-the-Year Banquet, the banquet isn’t coming from the student representation fee. It legally can’t. The SRF is established by a vote of the students at each individual campus, and the rules of that fee are contained in the California State Education Code. It can ONLY be spent on things which relate to advocacy in some form, such as the General Assembly or the March in March. If a board were to attempt to spend something like the banquet out of the SRF, it would eventually be stopped by the President, Adviser, or eventually the Business Office though I doubt it would get that far.
The banquet funding would actually come from the General Fund, which consists primarily of a stipend the ASB receives that comes from sale of the Student ID Stickers. This is because originally those stickers, prior to being bus passes, were sold by the Student Association as discount cards to the students. The administration bought that program after the agreement was made with RT, and offered to fund the ASB’s General Fund based on those numbers. A small portion of it also comes from general fundraising and the bike lockers.
These are entirely distinct resources. Keep in mind, the banquet is a very long standing tradition. The one year in recent memory that it did not occur was because of severe dysfunction where almost nothing was passed, and several years prior to that it was a very corrupt board. It is a time of reflection, a time to recognize what a board did accomplish, and not just the board. Last years banquet awarded students who were not involved in the board in any way but who were still involved. Because that is the purpose of the banquet – to recognize those students who have advocated for the education of their peers and the mission of the campus.
If they can find ways to cut back on the price, of course. Do so. But from what I’ve read this has been a very odd year for the Senate, and the fact that they’ve managed to keep up at all and to get funding out to any clubs in the midst of vacant positions and constant scandal, is an accomplishment. I don’t think a single dinner, at the end of a long year, and an award, which will be their only physical reminder of their service since participation does not appear on your transcripts nor do you receive any grade or scholarship for it, is a very small thing and I would hardly call it “serving themselves”.
I think any student who honestly thinks that this award is such a big deal, should serve on the board. There are usually vacant positions and when there is not, there are Representative positions, there are committees, there are things a student can do, and the hours you put into it will exhaust you. You will suffer burn out worse than any class you have ever taken, and you will do it for little to no reward, and little to no recognition. When you come out of it you will have a plaque and a lifetime of experiences that will follow you to your university, your job, and the rest of your life. And you will remember every single gray hair and sleepless night, and wonder why on earth you ever did that to yourself. And then you will look at that plaque and remember, it was to accomplish something good, no matter how small.
American River College Alumni