Student senators need to be held to a higher standard

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL



A week before the Academic Senate approved a slew of changes to give our student government more power and representation, former student senate officer Josh Villanueva was removed from his position for having his semester GPA dip below a 2.0 last spring.

And while most of us on The Channels Editorial Board believe he is one of the more competent and engaged members of student government, it raises the question of exactly what standards our student representatives should be held to.

With the amount of power and influence our Associated Student Government is given, we of the Ed board don’t believe these officials are being held to a high enough academic standard.

As of today, the somewhat confusingly worded student senate constitution requires after being elected, senate members must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0.

A cumulative 3.0 should be the minimum requirement to be able to run and participate in student government – at any level.

With the proposed changes, the student senate could have a major say in things like grading policies, setting curriculum and even academic disciplinary policies.

And for those that don’t remember, it wasn’t that long ago 11 of 15 student senators were removed after an incident at a statewide student government conference.

Some may see this requirement as an unnecessary barrier of entry, or simply as being too high a standard. But to represent over 20,000 students is a huge responsibility, one that shouldn’t be left up to average students.

And while they need to be held to a higher standard, that doesn’t mean administration and current senators shouldn’t leave room for outstanding circumstances. Removing the semester GPA requirement would allow for life-changing events like losing a family member, a job or even taking a particularly tough class a student wasn’t prepared for. The latter being the case for Villanueva.

This isn’t impossible or even that difficult to fix, and there are a few changes that could make the process much better for everyone.

Here at The Channels, everyone on staff is in a course with at least 3 credits. Editors get up to 5 credits, allowing some of us to only take two other classes and still maintain full-time status. Student senators don’t get any sort of class credit at all. While they are only expected to be enrolled in 5 credits to be a senator, most students need a full-time schedule to receive financial aid, car insurance discounts, and health insurance.

On top of having to take a multitude of classes to meet this requirement, most of them aren’t even paid for their time outside their already busy schedules. With a full schedule, a job, and the time spent working on the senate, it is not surprising that it is difficult to pass higher-level classes.

In addition, senator’s grades should be checked at the beginning and end of every semester. While his grades had been in for months, Villanueva wasn’t notified until August that he would be losing his position as commissioner of clubs. That’s a huge disparity.

We think the biggest change is really the most obvious – raising the academic standards.

The Associated Student Government is supposed to be the voice of students here at City College; they should be leaders on campus and in the community. But most important, they shouldn’t be C average students. Not with the amount of responsibility they take on for the rest of us.