We get it. It’s just community college. No big deal. Why should we care who our leaders are?
Riverside Community College District recently appointed a new chancellor. Riverside City College is in the process of hiring a new president. Elections are being held for a new student trustee. Associated Students of Riverside City College elections are coming up. The leadership that makes up the very backbone of our college is rapidly changing right under our feet. Do students care? Apparently not.
The majority of students at RCC are disengaged with the organizations and systems in which they are the primary stakeholders.
At a school where our enrollment is over 17,000 students on the college level and 35,000 on the district level, we’re lucky if our voter turnout for an election is in the hundreds. At the student trustee forums there were rows of empty chairs, and at the presidential search forums, there were staff, but students were scarce in attendance.
“I met with a lot of groups while I was here. There’s one group I didn’t meet with. Anybody in the room know who that group is? Students,” Elmer Bugg, one of presidential candidates for RCC, said at a forum. “So one of the challenges we have is to increase the student voice on this campus.”
This reign of apathy is not a recent trend at the RCC either. In the past, the ASRCC president position was held by a registered sex offender. Anybody wanting to become a student senator simply has to get enough signatures to get on the ballot because of the lack of competition.
ASRCC Vice President Ryan Rudolph mentioned that during elections last year, they had to incentivize voters with pizza, snacks and drinks. What is worse: a low voter turnout or a higher turnout of uninformed voters getting bribed with food?
“Not a lot of people like to get involved just due to the fact that it’s a community college. We’re here to get in and get out, lets not focus on anything else,” said ASRCC Vice President Ryan Rudolph. “That’s the sad truth.”
The blatant disconnect that exists between the students and their leaders and decision makers is something that needs to change. Sure, there is something to say about the failure of our leaders and administration to reach out to students. However, when it comes to students not caring or even knowing about the issues going on around them, the problem is ignorance and apathy.
Take for example the Board of Trustees. They are responsible for making important decisions regarding district policy, budget, and the employment of staff and faculty. In other words, almost every important decision regarding the district goes through them in some way. Their meetings are open to the public and listed on the front page calendar of the school website. How many students show up at their meetings? Except for the student trustee, Viewpoints reporters, or student government, usually none.
April Galvin, our previous student trustee was dismissed due to an inability to maintain the requirements of a 2.5 GPA and six enrolled units according to Douglas Graham, the student activities coordinator and ASRCC advisor. How do we elect such a key representative when they can’t even uphold such basic requirements?
Elections for a new student trustee were scheduled to be held online April 7-8 via WebAdvisor. Candidates for this election ranged from ASRCC’s Vice President Ryan Rudolph to ASRCC’s Vice President Ryan Rudolph.
Not to hold anything against Rudolph’s ability to represent RCCD’s students on the Board of Trustees, but it would be nice if there was a little bit more of a selection. Considering there are over 35,000 students in the RCCD community, the fact that there is only one candidate taking part in the election is sobering.
We cannot change the reality of our past and we see the effects of it today. The truth is that the average student remains unengaged and uninformed regarding the issues and organizations that affect their life and education the most, however, we might be able to change the outlook of our future.
ASRCC elections that are coming up would be a good place to start making a change. Students should get educated about the elections and start asking questions about the candidates. Those who have the desire and ability to be a part of student government should run for office. The only way that students can be best represented is through a strong candidate pool and informed vote.