By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer
By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer
The search for the next student trustee has finally come to a close with Nick Randhawa Bygon emerging victorious after a grueling process of simply getting himself on the ballot.
Voting for the student trustee occurred May 17-18 at all three Riverside Community College District campuses.
The final results are posted in the Student Government building.
A total of 355 ballots were cast over the course of two days, with 14 being considered void.
Bygon campaigned his way to 196 votes. Coming in second was Francisco Ramos with 131 votes and coming in third with 14 votes was Maximo Anthony Raya.
The election for student trustee would have occurred much earlier had there not been an invalidation of the two candidates.
George Escutia Jr. and Maximo Raya failed to pay their student activity fees.
Both parties also failed to collect the 250 student signatures required to run for the position.
The election was therefore postponed and reopened for new candidates, leaving the door wide open for Nick Bygon and Francisco Ramos to submit their candidacies.
Bygon alongside Brian McFadden are the students who formerly filed a grievance and collected the 220 signatures necessary to have the election reopened to the entire student body from the beginning.
The students who braved the cold weather to vote for the trustee acknowledged the importance of the position.
“These are the people who are informing us and letting us know what is happening on campus,” said RCC student Ruby Pena. “The trustee is our representative, they will represent our interests to the Board of Trustees.”
Jonathan Flike, the newly elected president of Associated Students of Riverside City College, acknowledged the importance of the trustee.
“These (board of trustees) are the people who make the money decisions, so how much the purse strings open and close depend on these people,” Flike said. “We really need a strong student voice to weigh in on these decisions.”
Not many students exercised their right to vote or note the significance of the position or even the importance of the board of trustees.
Douglas Graham, coordinator of student activities at Riverside City College, said that the small percentage of voters was not uncommon.
“We usually get one percent of the student body to come here to vote,” Graham said. “If the board of trustees doesn’t know what the students want, their decisions are arbitrary.”
“It is necessary to have a student trustee to air the students’ voice to those people in charge,” he said.
Despite the small percentage of voters, some students have become very involved in the politics on campus and makes a point of keeping well informed.
Ashley Anderson, vice president of Rat Pak, an up and coming activist group which focuses on college politics, was well informed on the candidates and their platforms.
“The student trustee is vital. They sit on the board, they know what is going on 100 percent,” Anderson said. “They’re right there in the action, they get a whole different perspective.”
“They are huge to this college,” she said.
Regarding their newly elected trustee the students seem hopeful for the future.
“Bygon presents himself well, and seems well informed and willing to argue, which is not always fun,” said RCC student Miguel Sanchez. “He has the kind of mind to be a good critical thinker and hopefully will represent us well.”
As far as his victory goes, Bygon takes a moment to look back on his journey to winning the trustee position.
“Being able to overturn it, being able enter the race, and being able to win is a great accomplishment and I look back really fondly on the whole experience,” Bygon said.
Bygon wastes no time in getting to work and has already begun to envision his future plans and goals.
“I’m really just excited about getting to work,” he said. “I’m just starting to kind of organize certain things I need to get through such as the fundamentals of operating in the board so that I essentially bring up the issues that are necessary to bring up.”
Bygon plans to make the board meeting more accessible to the students. He wants to utilize the internet and technology to make vital information more readily available to the student body district wide.
“That’s my job to sit there for three hours at the board meetings, but I want to take that information and give it to the students,” Bygon said. “My goal is to give that information to them, so that they can make their decision so then I can take that voice to the board.”
As regards to the low voter turnout, Bygon does not entirely place the blame on the students themselves.
“It’s not the students’ fault entirely,” he said.
“There has to be those institutions that make the information available, accessible and useable,” Bygon said. “When those three things are accomplished so that an individual can see what the problem is and see what the possible solutions are, then we can start to say whether they are responsible or not.”
“Until those things are there in front of them, we can’t simply say they are to blame,” he said.
As far as future projects in the works, Bygon is all over digital media and methods of sharing information and updates on recent events to students.
“A website, a YouTube channel, a Facebook, a Twitter all of those will be up and running soon,” Bygon said.
He also plans on releasing video and briefs from the office of the student trustee.
Bygon’s main goal is to give students, district wide, a voice.
“I’m here to change the system and make sure people are held accountable,” Bygon said. “I just can’t wait for students to start speaking, since I feel they haven’t had a voice this entire time and I’m determined to make sure they do have one.”
Bygon will debut as the new student trustee on June 7 at 6 p.m. at Moreno Valley College for a committee meeting and his first official board meeting as well.
Students are welcome to attend.