Editorial – Shut out of the loop

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The existence of Santa Barbara City College boils down to one simple purpose: to serve the needs of students. But sometimes, we can’t be so sure.

The administration failed to involve, or even notify, the Associated Student Senate of a meeting that decided on a 20-cent pay cut for student workers. Although the decision was overturned last week, before the change would take effect, the fact remains that the voice of the students was neglected.

A system of shared governance is in place at City College to empower students, not deprive them. The decision to leave out student representation goes against what our school’s democratic system lives for.

In the face of budget cuts, it’s looking more like a hierarchy.

Over Winter Break, the Board of Trustees met for a necessary and immediate decision regarding the budget deficit. They decided on a 1.923 percent pay cut for student workers, to be implemented Feb. 11.

Although the meeting was open, the Student Senate was not informed of it. No members were present to communicate a position on decisions being made.

According to California’s Code of Regulations, the board’s negligence was a violation of Title 5, Section 51023.7, which addresses shared governance on topics such as instituting budgets.

In a matter that directly affects all student workers on campus, posting the results of a vote that they had no say in is inadequate. At the very least, the students should be heard on a matter that directly affects their paychecks, regardless of whether they can control it.

Students staff the City College campus in various ways, from lab assistants to the Buzz Shack to the administration. We are an integral part of day-to-day operations, and rely on our student jobs as a source of income.

The vice president of Business Services, Joe Sullivan, answered on behalf of the board regarding the situation. He stated that the involvement of the Student Senate would not have swayed the outcome.

But Student Senate Trustee Sean Knotts explained that his frustration is with the board’s lack of student involvement. He resents not receiving, at minimum, an e-mail.

For the administration to not acknowledge the voice of the students in a decision that directly affects their pay rate is questionable, at best.

The Student Senate should have been involved. Giving at least the illusion of honoring the system between governances is far better than being so obviously slighted.

In a fiscal situation that looks so particularly grim, clearly sacrifices have to be made. Yet the students that City College is meant to serve were not given any options, nor any say in the matter.

The Instructor’s Association, the teacher’s union on campus, was given a proposal containing a similar 2-percent pay cut. They were given the opportunity to deliberate, assemble and address it. Last week they ultimately fought off what they deemed to be a bad proposal.

The student pay cut was reversed last week before it went into effect. So why cry over spilt milk? Because students were never given the freedom to address the issue.

There are many administrative decisions that students have little control over, but we always have a voice.

While our opinions may not always be appreciated, the concept of shared governance gives us the right to be heard.

In the face of such a troubled economy, the students may have voted for the 20-cent hourly pay cut. For those that still have campus jobs, it is a better solution than losing them altogether.

But as that vote never happened, we will never know.