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Guest Column – The voice of the students finally heard

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By Mike Gasca

By Mike Gasca

What do you get when you mix backstabbing and disloyalty…? A healthy slice of Riverside student government. Yet as it seems, this mixture of leadership is not as good as you may think.

When I first filed to run as vice president, many people assumed I was running to elevate my career. True, I am involved in various community groups and programs, but in comparison to those, and my professional career, the vice presidency of ASRCC has minimal, if any weight. I make this comment not to undermine the value of student government, but in hopes that people will see that my platform for running is clear: I wanted to create an educational environment where students feel empowered by the learning process, rather than imprisoned by it. When President Di Muccio and I ran for election we carried the theme “Uniting the VOICE of Students, To Create a ROAR for Change.” I took seriously that commitment I made to the students of RCC.

In mid June the Student Senate voted unanimously to impeach me because I actually had done my job… stand up for students. I was sorry to hear that our student trustee and pro-tempore had other priorities in mind. I was addressing the Board of Trustees on allowing for the Student Trustee to be given an advisory vote on the Board to show appreciation of student input when Chancellor Rotella interrupted me three times during my allotted time. Finally I requested that he allow me to finish my presentation, and I even said please! It was unfortunate that Student Trustee Carbone did not have the backbone to do his job, and used this incident to impeach me (at a meeting in which I was not present). After addressing the Senate myself, and playing the tape of the Board meeting, they decided not to continue with the impeachment. I returned to speak at the August Board meeting, only this time about a different issue… student discrimination and how many students are being harassed. I was instructed by Monica Delgadillo-Flores, dean of Student Services, not to touch that issue with a 10-foot pole. A few days later, I was socially suspended, removing me as vice president of ASRCC. She had charged me with disobedience of a District official, and vandalism of college property, because another student had damaged a ceiling tile while trying to fish our keys from the locked office. Flores has insisted that the punishment is strictly in response to the incidents at hand, not for my comments at the Board meeting; however, the student who was with me has not received any punishment…why?… could it be because he did not speak at a Board meeting?

I believe that the students need proper representation in their battles against discrimination, overcharged textbooks and harassment… and unfortunately this behavior will likely not be found in newly appointed Vice President David Cooke. Cooke has accused me of “screwing things up.” If creating a more informed Senate, increasing the communication of ASRCC between instructors, and making plans to bring outside food vendors onto campus fits that definition, then I am guilty as charged.

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