During the weekend of May 2-4, Bakersfield College SGA students participated in the Spring 2014 General Assembly of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), held in Los Angeles. This year’s theme was “Courage to Take the Lead: Inspiring the Future.” BC’s delegation included Acting SGA President, Shelby Ashton Sward, accompanied by incoming SGA 2014-2015 officers, Alex Dominguez (President-Elect), Aeri Kim (Director of Finance-elect), and Reg Autwell (Director of Clubs and Organizations-elect), and advisor, Liz Peisner. Our students participated in a number of breakout sessions, collaborating with student leaders from community colleges up and down the state of California, on topics such as Veterans’ services, the upcoming implementation of SSSP, sustainability, and equity and diversity. Our BC students brought their Bakersfield regional experience to the table for statewide discussion, engaging in debate on matters unique to their region, such as Kern County’s priority of water conservation, and concerns over divestment of fossil fuel industries.
In a move of solidarity with other California community colleges, BC delegate Shelby Sward participated in a heated debate on the GA floor, related to equity and access to academic services and student success for deaf and hard of hearing students.
Incoming SGA president Alex Dominguez reflected on his experience: “SSCCC was a great opportunity for all of us to better connect with other community colleges across the state. I saw it as a great leadership opportunity to represent and stand up for Bakersfield College and Bakersfield as a whole. Not only did I learn a lot, it was a great networking opportunity. I met countless counterparts along with many other college leaders. This also gave me an opportunity to better know my incoming SGA Board along with the existing SGA President. I strongly recommend that we attend this event again and that we bring several resolutions to the table in 2014/15. Bakersfield College has a very open opportunity to be known by establishing strong leadership and advocacy at this event.”
Informed by pre-conference feedback from our own BC faculty in the Foreign Languages and ASL department, Sward spoke up in opposition of dividing one of two resolutions, instead advocating for the importance of equity of access and services in the academic, counseling, and extracurricular environment. Following her sound leadership and advocacy, delegates immediately moved to call the question. The motion to divide failed, and the resolution passed in its entirety. The sponsoring delegation from Los Angeles Trade Tech College asked to meet with our team following the session, for pictures and discussion on best practices as implemented here at BC.
Autwell reflected on his experience, stating “For the most part I found this GA to be an interesting experience, as I have never been involved with student government before. I was surprised to find out how many colleges were in Region 5 and it was interesting to watch how our region works. The best experience I had was with the Spectrum Caucus. I am now Region 5’s interim representative for the caucus, and have been elected to be the representative for the new-year, starting in July. The Spectrum Caucus is very involved in providing information, not only to members of the LGBTQIA community, but also to students, about these groups. I am particularly curious on the plan to spread awareness regarding the Trans Gender population, and how they will support the Trans Gender students.”
Our newly revised constitution and restructuring of our SGA was a topic of discussion, and numerous advisors have contacted our Office of Student Life for best practices, training modules, information on the Renegade Pantry, and other opportunities for future collaboration. Our students entered General Assembly this year, with our continued promise for “Renegade Rises,” and came away with new allies in student representative government, demonstrating the best of BC, Renegade pride, and a fortified SGA.