Santa Monica College Students To Be Recognized For Helping Save Winter Classes

Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 8:20:00 AM

Brenton Garen

Santa Monica College Associated Students President Parker Jean spearheaded its student government’s effort to contribute $200,000 to help save the College’s winter program.
Photo by Brenton Garen
Santa Monica College Associated Students President Parker Jean spearheaded its student government’s effort to contribute $200,000 to help save the College’s winter program.

When Santa Monica College announced in November it would

reinstate its previously canceled winter program, there was a dedicated group

of students who had been working behind the scenes, culminating in a $200,000

contribution from the student government towards the $1.2 million instructional

cost to run the six-week program.

Associated Students President Parker Jean led the

efforts. He will be formally recognized March 5 at the next SMC Board of

Trustees meeting.

While the Nov. 6 passage of Proposition 30 (temporary tax

to fund education) gained most of the attention for being the savior of the

winter program, there was little to no accolade for the student government.

Jean said he and his 14-member Associated Students board

decided to take matters into their own hands after SMC’s Board of Trustees’

unanimously voted Sept. 6, 2012 to cease winter classes due to budget cuts.

Jean said the SMC Board of Trustees and SMC President Dr.

Chui Tsang stood firm on their decision to cancel winter classes for about two

months, adding they continually said winter classes would not return,

regardless of whether Prop. 30 passed or failed on Nov. 6.

“It was discouraging and sounded like there was no way we

were going to have a winter session,” Jean said. “We, the students-at-large,

were rallying for Prop. 30 and it was a success, which was critical. However,

there was a lot going on behind the scenes to revive classes and the winter

session – and that is what I feel what was left out when it was finally

announced that winter classes would return.”

When the SMC Board of Trustees and SMC administration

remained tight-lipped after Prop. 30 passed on whether the winter program would

return, the SMC District Planning and Advisory Council (a body comprised of

representatives of faculty members, classified staff, Associated Students, and

Administration/Management Association who are responsible for making

recommendations to the Superintendent/ President) met on Nov. 14 to discuss the

possibility of contributing money out of the Associated Students budget to save

the winter program.

Jean said a recommendation was voted on to contribute

$200,000 – approximately a quarter of the Associated Students annual budget –

to help with the reinstatement of the winter program.

Jean said Dr. Tsang accepted the $200,000 contribution

and the official announcement of the reinstatement of winter classes was made

on Nov. 20.

Dr. Tsang said the restoration of winter classes was made

possible by the passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012 and “the explicit

promise that the next five years of State funding would be stable with a modest

improvement available each year.”

“The offer from the Associated Students to provide

$200,000 toward winter was affirmation that the offering would be successful

and would meet some critical student needs,” Dr. Tsang said. “At its best, the

SMC Associated Students help students become leaders. The offer to help fund

winter classes emerged from the Associated Students taking a leadership role in

restoring winter. We are extremely grateful for their partnership and support.”

Dr. Tsang said the rest of the money to run the winter

classes – about $1 million – came from the general fund reserves of the

College.

He said a certificate of appreciation would be presented

to Associated Students President Parker Jean on March 5.

“This is the first board meeting held since the return of

most students to the campus for the start of the spring semester, so we are

hopeful that many students will be able to attend to receive the thanks from

the Board and the administration,” he said.

The Associated Students budget is generated from about

two-thirds of SMC students who elect to pay a $19.50 Associated Students fee

each semester, which gives them benefits such as unlimited use on the Big Blue

Bus network, a certain amount of free printing on campus, access to clubs, and

discounts at local businesses.

Of the $19.50 fee, about a third goes into several

unrestricted funds that the student government can choose how to spend.

Of the $200,000 contribution, $150,000 came from the main

unrestricted fund that’s generally used to support SMC’s clubs and hold fairs

on campus, while the other $50,000 came from the unrestricted joint Associated

Students President/SMC President Fund.

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