In hopes of fostering a more welcoming environment on campus, Associated Students (AS) will begin hosting “Community Night,” a newly-established social event directed towards promoting an interactive dialogue between professors and students every Tuesday night at the Circadian lounge.
Revolving around the theme of water, the event will run for six nights and consist of two segments, according to AS Vice President for Business Affairs Alejandro Chavez. Featuring a wide range of speakers from each department, the central aim of the event is to create an interactive dialogue where students and professors can bond and form connections together.
“Community night is a project intended for dialogue, for a sense of community, for getting to see the human part of professors and students,” Chavez said. “Last semester, there was a problem of people dropping classes. And we saw the Academic Senate put together a panel with students and professors listening to each other.”
To partake and be a part of a community is through engaging in dialogue where meaningful conversations can be made, states Chavez. But he believes connecting with professors requires a welcoming environment in which students are comfortable to fully express themselves—inside and outside the school classroom.
“We know that students can be very shy about approaching a professor,” Chavez said. “In a way, they’re losing the opportunity to know the professor, but most importantly, a human being who went through similar experiences like us.”
During the first half of the event, speakers will discuss their research studies and how it ties in with the event’s theme. Alejandro added that the discussions are a continuum of the following event.
The first speaker, Dr. Sara Muno, spearheaded the discussion by presenting her research of water scarcity in Peru. She reflected back on her time there, stating that “a sense of awareness was created” when access to tap water was not a daily occurance.
“How much water do you think a person needs to fill their basic needs?” Dr. Muno said. “When we’re thinking about how much water a person needs, sometimes it’s hard to translate that into actual quantity.”
After the first half, students were then divided into groups and worked together, focusing on the idea of cooperation and communication. Referred to as a “workshop,” groups were given a set of items that varied in quantity, each consisting of water bottles, rocks and diamonds. The game plan was to effectively share and communicate with another, so that no group would be “left out.”
Hansa Khatib, brother of VP for Academic Affairs Jude Khatib, came up with a social gathering that allows for interaction and critical thinking through fun-spirited activities.
“The workshop [idea] was brought up by Jude’s brother, Hansa,” Chavez said. “It’s a type of activity that requires communication, coordination and teamwork from professors and students in different groups.”
Tadi Cotachi, a student at PCC, vocalized that interacting with the professors during the event felt “like a community because you’re getting to know different people on campus.”
“I really enjoyed talking to the professors,” Cotachi said. “While [Dr. Muno] was lecturing, she also happened to be in [my] group. Seeing her interact with [our group] … made me feel like the person speaking is in our shoes.”
Humanizing professors is the centric scope of Community Night, and that’s what Dr. Muno intends to portray herself as: just like her students.
“For both me and my students, I look at the classroom as a safe space for learning,” she said. “It’s a sense of community, and I try to treat my students like colleagues … I want it to feel comfortable for all of us, in exchange for ideas.”