Helen Benjamin welcomed at her first College Planning Council

Elizabeth Saubestre, Staff Writer

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Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin was greeted with open arms at her first attendance of the College Planning Council meeting Tuesday.

Benjamin was met with a warm reception from her fellow council members and high praise from current Superintendent-President Anthony Beebe, who attended his last meeting after announcing his retirement in February.

Benjamin joins the college at a time of great turmoil, with racial and gender discrimination continuing to cause unrest throughout the campus.

“Students need to see people like me so that they can have hope in themselves, and in this case, it’s not just students, it’s black students. And it did something for them, just to know that I was president.”

Benjamin said this regarding an incident that happened during her campus tour.

“We went into the UMOJA room, and there were just black students in there,” Benjamin said. “And they just got to their feet when I walked in the room. I started tearing up immediately.”

Benjamin also said the administration is greatly lacking in equal representation.

“There’s not enough women, there are not enough people of color in these systems,” Benjamin said. “It’s all cyclical. It just repeats itself. Our expertise is needed, so we just need to get along.”

Despite her two-year retirement, Benjamin said she spent some of that time counseling other colleges.  

“I haven’t been totally disconnected,” she said.

The council also unanimously voted to give Faculty Association President Cornelia Alsheimer a position at the table, a seat Beebe said she has been fighting for for the last three years.

“I think more voices at the table always helps,” said Pamela Ralston, executive vice president of educational programs.

The council will reconvene on April 2 with Benjamin at the helm.

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