Editorial: Student voice imperative in times of budget crisis

Joel Linde, Opinions Editor

With great power comes what? The answer is responsibility.

Here at City College we have ample people with great power, and, inherently, great responsibility. There is the Superintendent-President, of course. The vice president, the assessment and the administrative offices, and our newly elected Board of Trustees… there are many.

But shouldn’t there also be a chunk of power among the students? After all, this is a student learning institution.

There should, and there is. It’s called the Student Senate. This group of 10 students exists to represent the rest of the roughly 19,000 of us.

One of those 10, Nicole Ridgell, is appointed the Student Trustee. She is, if you will, the eighth member of the Board of Trustees, with virtually the same power and the same responsibility. Great responsibility.

Lately, however, the other seven elected officials of the board have questioned Ridgell’s claim that she carries just as much of the duty. They argue that they have a heavier “overall public responsibility,” and voted to keep Ridgell’s salary at half of the $400 they get paid per attended meeting.

And maybe they’re right? Maybe Ridgell hasn’t used her power in accordance to her responsibility. But let’s not forget a representative needs someone to represent.

The record shows she has attended nine of the last 10 board meetings, but she was recently criticized for not speaking up enough. Trustee Marsha Croninger pointed out that Ridgell didn’t offer any student opinion in a board discussion regarding dual enrollment – something that couldn’t be any more important to students, one might think.

Either we’re not fairly represented, or we’re all just indifferent to our own future.

The Board of Trustees as a whole meets once a month. The Student Senate, on the other hand, gathers every week with student participation always encouraged.

And currently there’s something extra that should truly boost student initiative, namely that City College is looking down the barrel of budget cuts between $3.9 million to $11 million.

Superintendent-President Dr. Andreea Serban has expressed her vision to maintain a “high standard in technology in order to provide a high quality of education.”

Surely such an agenda would have its impact on a tight budget.

Whether you like them or not, decisions are made at the top, and in times where the college might lose up to 15 percent of its budget, a strong student voice has never been more important.

Other colleges that are faced with the same issues are currently discussing such decisions. Modesto College, for example, has suggested scrapping their entire multimedia department. Instead, they said, students interested in that field can get their education within their modern arts department. Not ideal perhaps for someone looking to work in broadcasting.

Cuts will be made and some departments will suffer. Now it’s the responsibility of you, the Student Senate, and Nicole Ridgell to make sure they hurt as little as possible.