On Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, the Associated Student Government of Bellevue College District VIII held their first General Assembly meeting, at 1:30 p.m. in room C-130, and was publicly called to order at approximately 3:30 p.m. ASG President Zawdie Terry presided over the meeting. The meeting was planned three or more weeks in advance.
It was orchestrated “to provide a platform for our clubs and programs to present who they are and what they are working on to the general student body. We want[ed] as many of our student organizations involved and we are working on building a stronger communication network. ASG worked to put together an agenda that incorporated as many programs we could get a hold of,” explained Terry. Unfortunately, not all programs, let alone clubs, received an invitation.
The agenda for the meeting set aside time for the Student Alliance, Asian Pacific Islander Student Association, Bellevue College Veterans Association, Black Student Union, Campus Activity Board, El Central Latino, International Student Association, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Questioning Resource Center, Office of Student Legislative Affairs and the Office of Sustainability. Programs listed above received formal invitations by email. The meeting was public and open to those who did not receive a personal invitation.
Amongst the programs not invited were the American Sign Language Club, Phi Theta Kappa, Model United Nations, Stage Fright Drama Club, Business Leadership Community, BC Speech and Debate Society, Cheer Squad, Peer to Peer and The Watchdog.
In reference to the invitational discrepancies Melody Salcedo, ASG campus life and events representative, cited that “a lot of students either don’t read our emails that we send out or don’t look at the posters or don’t check the Facebook Bellevue [ASG] page.” Interview requests were sent to 14 programs not listed on the agenda, nine of which responded within 48 hours or less. Of those available for comment, all indicated that they would have appreciated an invitation and would have made all effort possible to attend.
Miranda Tamnkang, ASG marketing and public relations representative was in charge of inviting programs to meeting. Tamnkang identified the programs invited to be “the primary programs that would need to know the updates and things that the associated student government is doing and those are the targeted people that would be affected if they did not know; if they did not have that advocacy and awareness.” She elaborated that she reached out to the programs listed on the agenda provided to her and “did not know that [other programs] would be interested in attending the General Assembly Meeting … ”.
All programs available for comment self-identified as highly active and as having contributed extensively to the BC community.
To reference a few, the American Sign Language Club has been a program since 2004 after having been a club since before 1999. Phi Theta Kappa has been a program for at least a decade. The Stage Fright Drama Club’s programship dates back to the 1980s.
Program members, leaders and advisors perceived the oversight to be a product of a varying range of factors. One attributed it to program location, the sheer number of programs and the chaos of the end of the quarter. Another saw the oversight as a product of the lack of institutional knowledge; a common problem amongst two-year institutions due to a high turn over of leadership. Going on to say that “it looks disorganized, and it looks exclusive. I’d like to believe that that’s not what it was … [but rather] that they were not seeing the big picture.” A program member also added that it feels like “they don’t value us as a community … ”
Suggestions for improvement include advanced notice, better publicity, sending out emails to program leads personally extending invitations to all programs and sending out an email to all students.
Terry acknowledges that “this has revealed a major hole in communication within our student union.
We are assessing what methods of contact we are currently using in order to improve our ability to reach all student groups on campus. … Communication is the brick and mortar to any organization, and it is my goal to create a strong communication network. The first step to solving a problem is figure out what the problem is.”
Tamnkang and Terry both extended apologies for the oversight.