by James Hearne
The Associated Students of Whatcom Community College began the new quarter recently still under the cloud of the abrupt departures of several of its executive members, including its president. As was reported at the end of last quarter, Isaac Shantz-Kreutzkamp, who was then the ASWCC president, resigned after a controversy regarding alleged insensitivity towards the Ethnic Students Association.
They are trying to put all that behind them, however, and focus on the upcoming quarter, said Laura Hansen, who was elected president. She, along with Phelicia Parker, who is running for representative-at-large, are the only ones who put in letters of intent for their respective positions.
Why so few candidates? Vice-president John Laigaie said that it was due to a variety of factors, including the time commitment, as executive members need to be able to meet twice week. Other factors include the minimum credits required, as well as the stress level. On top of that, many students are unaware of the mere existence of the student council, as important an institution as it is, which also might explain why they have had such a limited turnout, for executive council positions.
In spite of difficulties, Laigaie said that he is optimistic about the forthcoming quarter. “I feel that [student council] can get a bad reputation,” he said. People have certain expectations about what a member of student government are supposed to be like, he added, and very rarely does that actually turn out to be the case. “It’s actually one of the most diverse places on campus,” Laigaie said.
Laura Hansen, the new president (is she the president or a candidate?), was first recommended to the ASWCC by her English teacher and, like many other students, was barely aware of its existence beforehand. As this is her second quarter on the student council, she is trying to bring some fresh perspective. She is also trying to help the council put the controversy of last quarter behind them. “We learned a lot about the importance of communication,” she said of the problems.
“I’m looking forward to a very bright light at the end of a tunnel,” Hansen said.
Hansen’s goals for this quarter include encouraging more community involvement, including community service, and capital projects, such as the expansion for the recreation center. One of her main focuses, however, is increasing student awareness and participation in ASWCC.
Kris Baier agrees. As the director for Student Life, he sees first hand how hard the ASWCC works, both in the hours they put in, as well as the responsibilities they shoulder. According to the ASWCC by-laws, in addition to having to budget out the Services and Activities funds, they must also be advocates for the student body at large, make policy recommendations to the administration, and represent the interests of Whatcom students to local, state, and national law makers. “It’s why I have so much respect for the people who step up,” Baier said.
Baier added, via e-mail, that he is ready to help them in whatever ways they need. In particular, he said, the executive team plans to hold a retreat, in order to better form a “well-functioning organization,” and he will assist them in that end. He also said that it was important to acknowledge the council’s past accomplishments.
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