Though its influence can waver from figurehead to activist, the position of student trustee has the platform to be a voice-a sole voice-for the nearly 30,000 students who frequent PCC’s halls.
From certificates to degrees, the campus offers an expansive curriculum catering to an inumerable set of goals and interests where their endeavors lead them to the bungalows of the Science Village to the shop rooms. Additionally, over 79% of the population identify as minorities, with 51% as Latino, 24% Asian, and 4% African American.And while there are no current statistics on the gender identity or sexual orientation of students on campus, the existence of clubs like Third Wave and Queer Alliance make their presence undeniable.
The holder of the position is accountable for reflecting the identities, backgrounds, and sentiments of these diverse students. The position holds weight to due to the role it plays as liaison between Associated Student and the Board of Trustees. This year, there are four students eager to take on this feat.
Laura Electa Hayes began her career at PCC just last winter, but in the mere year and a half she’s spent on campus, she has left her mark.
In terms of experience, Hayes is highly involved in the campus community.
This semester she became President of Homeboy Scholars which focuses on a cause she is passionate about. Mainly, it involves reintegrating formerly incarcerated students into campus life, endowing them a sense of belonging.
“It’s really hard for returning students because they don’t feel like they fit in, so we want to give them a place to fit in,” Hayes said.
Hayes greatly believes in the importance of a positive and supportive community. In addition to her role in Homeboy Scholars, she is ICC representative for Third Wave, a feminist club focusing on inclusivity of womxn in all aspects of life.
Beyond campus life, Hayes has also been actively involved in the school politics at her son’s school as well as being on a number of parent committees. One particularly successful tenure was as the sustainability chair at her child’s school. While on the committee, she helped create a school garden called Odyssey Orchards where children are given the opportunity to learn about nature through hands-on activities.
While her experience in the campus community has greatly inspired her, the primary motive behind her decision to run for the position came after a disillusioning Academic Senate meeting. Hayes was particularly concerned with the board of trustees’ mishandling of the presidential search which cost the school thousands in failed search efforts.
“The Board of Trustees has been disconnected from the school,” Hayes said. “They’re elected through the city and I don’t know if it’s that they haven’t taken the time to research ask questions to actually get to know this school because their decisions don’t seem to put the school at the forefront.”
As a result of this critique, Hayes sees her place as student trustee as a platform of upliftment.
“I think that we really need a powerful voice, one that can speak for our needs and the community on campus,” she said. “I don’t want to be the voice, I want to amplify other voices.”
Zeinab Raad is a first year student with aims to promote campus diversity and lessen the burden of financial stress.
Since Raad is just beginning her tenure at PCC, she hasn’t fully had the time to explore its opportunities, though more recently, she aided with an Associated Students event for Ramadan.
“Now that I have acclimated the college life, I know that giving back and joining the PCC community is my priority,” Raad said.
While Raad’s campus experience is limited, she recognizes the value of campus representation and communication amongst various communities. Specifically, during her campaign she has made efforts to reach out to students, to understand where they’re coming from.
“I think I am the best representative of the student body because I know that I will without a doubt talk to all different groups of students on campus, ensuring what they have to say is heard,” she said. “Representing every student idea is key to making sure that every perspective is heard on a higher level. Being the student voice for the different groups on campus.”
Another passion of Raad’s is the push for college affordability. She has taken preemptive steps to research Open Educational Resources (OER) and hopes to implement them in the future for a lower overall cost.
“I know that every student is looking for a more affordable way to continue their higher education. Increasing the cost of Zero-textbook cost courses is vital to this,” she said.
She also aims to equalize the college experience for the campus community through equity and diversity.
“Action for equity is making an active effort to close the equity gap allowing students to get an equal start to their future,” she said. “Diverse is the perfect word to describe the campus as every student background, story and idea is diverse from one another. As Student Trustee, all these diverse ideas will be carried to the Board of Trustees.”
Elysia Adi is a hopeful first year student who hopes to enact measurable change on campus.
She has spent considerable time lobbying in Washington D.C. in support of funding and legislation for issues she is passionate about. A few of the causes she is active in include the special education community, representation for Asian Pacific Islanders, and financial aid for community college students. This year, she and other members of Associated Students lobbied for more funding for TRIO, a series of programs designed to aid financially disadvantaged students, and were successful.
Adi also has direct tethers to the position of student trustee, as she served on the student trustee committee this semester for current trustee, Emily Ekshian. After observing all that the position entails, she already has ideas for the coming year.
“I would love to have the student trustee have an actual vote, not just an advisory vote on the Associated Students board,” Adi said.
Her ambitions for the fall don’t end with the vote, the platforms for her campaign “BRIDGE” are heavy with intent.
For instance, the ‘D’ in BRIDGE stands for “Dream” which refers to support for DACA students.
“Next year, if I win I plan to begin what is called a Dream Center, which they’ve already implemented at ELAC,” she said. “It will provide political and legal services to whoever needs it.
Continually looking to promote new avenues for student success, “G” stands for “Growth”, specifically she aims for PCC to grow a relationship with Cal Tech through Associated Students and connections to adjunct faculty who work on both campuses.
“Since Cal Tech is so close to us, we might as well grow that relationship now so that we can offer opportunities for STEM students at PCC,” Adi said. “We’re hoping to give students the opportunities to go to labs, lectures, research facilities.”
While Adi understands the position of the board, she doesn’t necessarily agree with their prioritization.
“I will say that I didn’t really agree with the search and how it was handled,” Adi said.
“I don’t think we should have spent nearly as much time on it when there are so many other things going on,” she continues.” We did have multiple instances of sexual assault come up. We also had the case of the suicide. Those events should have been taken more seriously, in a timely accord and as student trustee we definitely should have done something about it.”
Sehi Jordan is the fourth candidate running for the position, though was not available for comment.
Student can vote for Student Trustee online using their Lancerpoint ID through June 7th at 11:59pm.