By: Evan Leahy
At the beginning of the Spring 2016 quarter, Hui-Ling Chan took the position of Whatcom Community College’s Director of Student Life, replacing Associate Director of Student Life and Interim Director of Student Life Laura Singletary. Before Hui-Ling Chan became Director of Student Life at Whatcom Community College in April if this year, she worked as Assistant Director of University Residences at Western Washington University. She describes this step as another in a series to try to have the maximum impact on the areas in which she works.
“It’s hard for me to talk about only Western, because I worked in Missouri and I worked at Ohio State for a long time […] although, at Western, I was more housing focused and at Ohio State my position was very much more student affairs focused,” she said, describing the various scopes of past positions.
Chan said that she was attracted to the smaller size of the school and has been happy living in Bellingham, going on to say that “there are a lot of things that [are] going really well at Whatcom. I mean, just the location itself, it’s very attractive – and should be very attractive – to international students…and we should be proud we have more international students than Western!”
“I have student life, I have athletics and I have rec center,” Chan said, listing her three major areas of focus at WCC, but also points out that the school “is quite small […]I used to deal with a lot of crisis, […] this position doesn’t really have mental health crisis or emergencies.”
“I am first [generation] myself, you know, so I just really love the whole open campus and open access,” she said, further clarifying that “open access means community college.”
Chan said that the equality of opportunity offered at “open access” institutions makes education accessible to all, whereas many other institutions are more restrictive, saying that “at Western, for example, are so-called ‘selective,’ right? You have to have [a] certain GPA or a certain SAT to get in.”
Chan said she was also here “to hopefully contribute to the housing plan in the long run.”
As it stands now, WCC student housing is pretty minimal, Chan said. “We have housing but our housing here is 164 beds. Western is 4100 beds, Ohio State was 12,000 beds,” she said.
Chan said that housing demands at Whatcom are largely driven by the number of international students at WCC going on to say that he cost of renting, lease agreements and the difficulty of background checks for international students have presented some challenges, which was the primary reason for having student housing at WCC in the first place. “So, the housing demand started with really facilitating the needs of international students and we have started opening it up for American domestic students, so far, so the demand is high,” she said.
“I really see that… a community college like this has so much potential to do so much good for the community,” she said, adding that “a lot of what you see us doing here is a lot of teaching and learning about how to be good citizens.”