ELECTION 2019: Meet the Candidates for Student Government and the SAFC

With major changes on the horizon, Lane Community College students will cast their vote on a new student government.

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Setting the scene

As temperatures heat up and the promise of summer edges ever closer, voting for the 2019-2020 Associated Students of Lane Community College Student Government has begun. From May 13-15, LCC students can cast their vote for next year’s executives, senators and Student Activity Fee Committee representatives through an online ballot.

Despite the rapid change coming to LCC in the next year, there are some familiar faces on the ballot: four incumbent senators are running for reelection, as well as two incumbent SAFC representatives. Others are looking to capitalize on their experience in business or activism to enact meaningful change for students.

The Torch spoke to almost every candidate in this year’s race (Ahmad Alkadi and Stefan Cogurik did not respond to several interview requests before deadline) to discover what motivated their run for office, where their priorities lay and how they plan to serve students during uncertain times.

Executives

President: Bryant Everett
Vice President: Leila Jebara

Editor’s Note: Everett and Jebara are running uncontested for the executive offices of the ASLCC. Short of a constitutional crisis, they will be student body President and Vice President for the 2019-2020 school year.

Photo courtesy of Bryant Everett and Leila Jebara

LCC’s current Chief of Staff Bryant Everett will bring over 10 years of experience as a manager for a Fortune 500 company to fight for student’s interests. That professional experience, combined with her experience with the ASLCC, gives her an understanding of what will be required on the job.

“That just let me have a backdrop of how student government in itself has run or does run typically, which is super important to inform me going forward,” Everett said. She feels the skills she acquired at her past managing position will translate into the new position.

Running as Everett’s vice president is Leila Jebara. Wanting to spread her heart to the student body, Jebara is seizing the opportunity to bring people together.

“I’m just one person, but I love to give my heart to everyone else at LCC,” Jebara said. Her major is in microbiology currently but may take her love for others into oncology.

“We would like to bring in everyone at LCC to get to know each other more,” Jebara said.

As their campaign statement says “putting the unity in community,” their plan as executives is to create an interdependent system for groups to help each other.

“Our largest goal is to create as much intersectionality as possible,” Everett said. Things like: if we have an event that needs dishes or things like that, we may be able to reach out to things–like say CASA [Ceramic Art Student Association]to make things like that or different groups to do different things.”

One of the largest challenges they will be taking on is administrative changes, those changes are currently under discussion.

“The biggest thing that I think that we’ll do is do a lot more outreach to all the other organizations and clubs and sort of bind together everyone as a singular college and university,” Everett said.

President: Diego Wilson
Vice President: Kenzie Scout

Editor’s Note: Diego Wilson and Kenzie Scout announced a write-in campaign for executive office on the morning of May 13, shortly after online polls opened.

Diego Wilson:

As a senator of your student government, I have consistently fought for student rights, demanding transparency on how Lane money is spent, and have always prioritized the immediate and local well-being of students and student organizations of this great institution. In my time in Senate, I have sponsored more fund requests for student organizations and events than any other senator, and throughout my time in Senate, have become the standard for order and transparency.

Outside of student government, I serve as a committee member of the Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC), where I have championed equity and transparency, going above and beyond by reaching out to the various fee-receiving groups to inform, educate, and ensure fairness. I also serve as a student representative on the College Council, ensuring our voices are heard by the highest offices of our school. Throughout this year, I have personally shepherded many clubs into fruition, ensuring the best resources are offered and taken advantage of. Lastly, as a student, I have supported as many student events as my schedule can accommodate, having become a regular at everything student-based, such as sports games, music events, student clubs, multicultural events, art shows, and, of course, our very own student government events.

With all that said, I’m ready to take it to the next stage. As president of the Associated Students of Lane Community College (ASLCC), I promise to continue to fight for affordable tuition, I promise to clean up the debacle that was this year’s SAFC, and I promise to ensure that students continue to be represented by individuals who genuinely care, sincerely listen, and fiercely fight for the needs of the student body. Thank you for your support — I’m Diego Wilson and I’m running for president of ASLCC.

Kenzie Scout:

I’ve been working with children and families as a passion since first volunteering with Americorps in 2009, where I taught at an inner city school in Brooklyn, NY. The insight I got into individual lives has fueled what I fight for today: available child and family care, available health services, and a push for mental health destigmatization and access to treatment.

Like many of you, the turmoil of recent budget changes has me worried, but hearing that even the Health Center may be on the chopping block for budget cuts has urged me toward getting up and doing something to save the precious resources that allow students across the spectrum of circumstances and identities to keep achieving their dreams.

Maybe we’ve met before in a club, as I currently serve as President of the LCC Psych Club and offer support to a wide variety of on-campus clubs here at Lane. Or perhaps you and I have met in an individual tutoring session in either General Psychology or Philosophy. Maybe it was up in the Writing Loft where I help students with their writing classes. If we’ve met in any of those places, you know exactly how important it is to me to leave the places I go just a little better than I found them.

If we haven’t had the chance to cross paths yet, I’m Kenzie Scout, and not only would I love to talk to you, but I’d love to represent you as the Vice President of Lane Community College. Help us save the Health Center, keep LCC clubs enriching the lives of the students here, and so much more. Your vote is your voice, and your voice is loud when you write in Diego Wilson and Kenzie Scout for President and Vice President!

Senators

Editor’s Note: The ASLCC Senate currently consists of 10 elected student representatives, but a proposed amendment to the ASLCC Constitution would, if ratified by students, reduce that number to eight. With nine Senate candidates on the ballot this year, one will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Amber Coleman

Photo courtesy of Amber Coleman

Amber Coleman was a school protection officer in Florida after serving in the Army for six and a half years. Her goals as senator focus largely on raising student awareness.

“I’ve seen students broke down for two hours trying to ask somebody for a jump,” Coleman said. “But at the public safety office, you just go bring an identification card and they give you a battery charging box, but they just didn’t know.”

With her goals set on law school, Coleman hopes to gain a place on the Senate to begin a possible career in politics.

“I also have the drive to continue making my community a better place,” Coleman wrote in her campaign statement.

At the top of her list is finding a better way to facilitate new students that come to Lane. The goal is to create more ease of access for new students to get involved through a more thorough orientation.

Another topic of concern for Coleman is the safety and security of the students. “There are a lot of spots [on] Lane Campus where the security cameras don’t see,” Coleman said. She plans to use her expertise to ensure the welfare of the students and faculty.

Michael Gillette

Photo courtesy of Michael Gillette

Michael Gillette, who currently serves as the President Pro-Tempore of the ASLCC Senate, wants to build on the triumphs and struggles he experienced in the Senate this year.

“Though we’re all aware of what happened on student government early in the year, I looked at is as a learning experience,” Gillette said. “It highlighted the flaws in our existing system, flaws that we worked to address this year. There were positive outcomes, too: it made us more collaborative and cohesive as a staff and a team.”

Though Gillette doesn’t see a political future for himself–the linguistics major would rather be a translator at the United Nations–he views himself as a strong advocate for student representation in the ASLCC. Gillette said he was the lone senator who spoke against a proposed constitutional amendment reducing the number of senators from 10 to eight.

“When we’re making that decision,” Gillette said. “We’re shutting the door on students and future senators. More senators means more students have their voices heard.”

In addition to his experience on the Senate, Gillette also says his personal history and identity helps him relate to a broad cross-section of students at Lane Community College.

“I approach everything with inclusivity and respect in mind,” Gillete said. “I’m a single father, a military veteran and Hispanic–I’m half-Cuban–so I understand a lot of different perspectives.”

Aime Nacoulma

Photo courtesy of Aime Nacoulma

Aime Nacoulma, who joined the ASLCC in early 2019, is seeking his first full term as a student senator. His top priorities include tackling rising tuition costs and the impending outsourcing of the Bookstore, where he also works.

“Even though the movement for a tuition freeze put some pressure on the school board,” Nacoulma said, referring to the LCC Board of Education. “I need to have a closer look at the bookstore situation.”

Nacoulma, an engineering student from Burkina Faso in West Africa, said he was “among the lucky ones” who earned opportunities to study in the United States.

“Although I battled to reach this point of my life,” Nacoulma wrote in his campaign statement. “I am grateful and give credit to the people who have lifted my voice and have had my back when my words weren’t enough. Today, I am running to represent your voice.”

Nacoulma also acknowledged that he wasn’t able to meet with as many student organizations as he intended, an oversight he aims to address if he wins another term.

“I am ready to commit as much time as needed to this role to make sure the work is done correctly,” Nacoulma said. “I want to get involved in either of the governing councils… That should allow me to identify and get a better sense of the needs [of students].”

Shana Santry-Weiland

Photo courtesy of Shana Weiland

Shana Santry-Weiland was elected as a Senator for the 2018-2019 school year. He switched roles to a position as Chief of Staff but continued to participate as a voluntary committee chair member.

“I spent a lot of time speaking up at Senate meetings, so I think it’s going to make more sense being a senator,” Santry-Weiland said.

Being a non-traditional student, he feels he will bring “professional practicality” to the position.

“We have organizations on campus that get an allocation of our student fees that dont always show everybody why they get it,” Santry-Weiland said. He hopes to make the process more transparent.

Learning from his time on ASLCC, Santry-Weiland has noticed the bylaws and school’s constitution have not been updated in nearly a decade.

“In any of our governing documents right now, there is no mention of the pay scale that the student government actually adheres to,” Santry-Weiland It’s all done by word of mouth.”

Being someone who did not always pay attention to  school committees, Santry-Weiland feels a responsibility to look out for the students who can’t or aren’t always involved. As he put in his campaign statement:  “just because you don’t care what the student government is doing doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be working for you, just as much as it works for those who are involved.”

Ama Wayne

Photo courtesy of Ama Wayne

Ama Wayne—a returning ASLCC Senator from the 2018-2019 school year—spoke a lot about how she would like to continue her work towards inclusivity and accessibility here on campus.

Looking back on why she decided to run for Senator again, she said “I felt a sense of connection with student government” and that she “wants to continue the work she’s been doing this year.” In regards to the Student Activity Fee, a hot topic on campus, Wayne said that she “would like to see a decrease in the cost of the Student Activity Fee so that students are initially paying less.”

Valerie Hoffman

Photo courtesy of Valerie Hoffman

Valerie Hoffman joined the ASLCC in late 2018. With her sights on the 2019-2020 school year, she wants to immediately begin working on organized labor.

Hoffman, echoing her campaign statement, said that only “5 percent of students under 25 are represented by unions” and she wishes to improve that figure. She argued for this by saying that “wages are stagnating or falling, and productivity is going up–that needs to be changed.”

Alexandria Jackson

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Jackson

Alexandria Jackson is new to campus but has already been getting involved in multiple organizations. By enculturing herself with events like the Native American Student Association’s Powwow and joining the Black Student Union, Jackson has a newfound love for LCC.

According to her campaign statement, she feels “that a big part of my purpose on this Earth is to help others to the best of my ability.” Her priorities lie in the student’s interest.

She spent her spare time in high school as a tutor for the Freshman Academy, helping others in her nature.

“I want to help as much as I can,” Jackson said.

On the top of her to-do list as a senator would be to find ways to get students involved around campus.

“I feel like everybody thrives off of having a relationship with another person or several people, especially with your teachers,” Jackson said. Her plans to create student engagement is to appeal to the new generations. Creating events of friendly competition, like video game tournaments or relay races will be a good way to create “cultural bridges,” according to Jackson.

Also on her mind as a senator are programs that the school is at risk of losing.

“Earlier today I learned they dropped the philosophy department and that’s a major interest of mine.” She hopes to stop any further programs from being cut.

Samantha Mosley

Photo courtesy of Samantha Mosley

Though she has yet to serve in any government body, Samantha Mosley is no stranger to legislative politics.

“I travel to Salem all the time to speak with representatives and senators about student issues,” Mosley said. “I’m the only [Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion] representative here at LCC that goes up there regularly.”

According to Mosley, her work at the state level gave her invaluable communication skills and confidence to tackle pressing issues, but she never considered running for student government until a few weeks ago.

“I had just returned from Salem, and someone told me ‘Hey, I think you’d be really good at this’ and just kept telling me I should run,” Mosley said. ”Eventually, they got to me.”

Despite her initial reluctance, Mosley believes her activist spirit and career as a special education teacher’s aide give her an edge in the campaign.

“I bring a lot of traits that other senators don’t,” Mosley said. “I’m easy to talk to, I’m not judgemental, I can basically talk to anyone. I’m still going to be myself–it’s the only thing I know how to do–but it’s about knowing how to be respectful and not abuse your power.”

Ahmad Alkadi

Photo courtesy of Ahmad Alkadi

Ahmad Alkadi is an international student with a unique experience at LCC.

“My immediate focus would be to improve cultural competency across LCC; I want to ensure the voice of international students who face microaggressions like I have is heard,” Alkadi said.

Being from Saudi Arabia has lead Alkadi to undergo “several microaggressions and outright racism.” After watching friends in the student government demonstrate the amount of change student could implement, he decided to run for Senate in the 2019-2020 election.

Having attended LCC since 2017, Alkadi has found avenues for change. “I’m hoping that through becoming a senator, I will not only have the chance to connect with people and break the cultural barrier, but also stand for others like me who face the same obstacles.”

Student Activity Fee Committee Representative

Editor’s Note: The Student Activity Fee Committee, which consists of both elected and appointed student representatives, is tasked with recommending the allocation of fees to the numerous student groups on campus. All campus groups, including the ASLCC and The Torch, receive a portion of this fee for their term-by-term operations. 

Though the SAFC is mandated by both college policy and Oregon law, this year’s iteration was rife with confusion and controversy, resulting in the resignation of SAFC Chair Wilgen S. Brown earlier this spring. The Board of Education, who have the final say in student fee allotment, has yet to make a decision regarding fee allotments for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Laura Leader

Photo courtesy of Laura Leader

LCC is the fifth college Laura Leader has attended.

“This is by far the college that has the most interaction between students, faculty, and the structures that are in place.” Leader said.

She can track her interests for politics all the way back to running for her elementary school’s treasurer. She hasn’t decided on a major, but she plans to get involved and take on a role where she feels she can help others.

“I’m going to be standing by what I really believe in here, which is practicality and impartiality.”

When asked about her priorities as an SAFC member,  Leader says her focus will be on spending money wisely.

“I think that priority number one is making sure that the money is all being used,” She says some programs in the past were given surplus money that could have gone to other programs that requested funds. She intends to have every dollar allocated and accounted for and is put to enrich student’s lives.  

Sebastian May

Photo courtesy of Sebastian May

Having spent the 2018-2019 year on the SAFC, May wants to continue representing the student body. His experience has brought to his attention that many students don’t know where their money is going.

“To me, the most important part of the student activity fee committee is making the student body aware that they are paying x amount of dollars each term,” May said.“And making them aware of the services they get out of it.”

May is a dual-enrolled student at the University of Oregon, pursuing a business degree. His objective is to raise awareness on the money students have spent on fees and to show them they have a say in how the money is spent.

”There would be no reason for anything other than complete transparency in every part of this process.”

CyRil Fagar

Photo courtesy of CyRil Fagar

”I want to do things and not just talk about things.”

CyRil Fagar sees many opportunities for improvement around the college. Being involved in LCC organizations has exposed issues that he feels can be reformed.

“A lot of things that need to change are the systems, not exactly the people, but the systems,” Fagar said. “And the people who are in the systems right now need to either move into space where they are working with the greater good or working for an outdated system that no longer works.”

He sees the budget as the lifeblood of the school that is currently being strangled at higher tiers. In response, Fagar plans to allocate funds to ease growth and expansion of student groups, as well as encourage more communication between students, administration and campus organizations.

“If everybody did their own work separately and hid it from each other, you put them all together it doesn’t work,” Fagar said. “The fact that you are transparent and able to work together makes it so people can collaborate into a more cohesive construction.”

As of now, he is a full-time student with other activities around campus, including working with the Multicultural Center.

Stefan Cogurik

Photo courtesy of Stefan Cogurik

Stefan Cogurik did not respond to multiple requests for an interview, but released a campaign statement with the ASLCC Voter’s Guide.

“As a member of the Student Activity Fee Committee, I’ll be doing my best to keep school reasonably affordable for the general population of students. Not only does the price point of school keep many underprivileged people from gaining an education, [but it also] keeps those who can make it into college closer to poverty. I’m excited to gain experience on the Activity Fee Committee and do the best I can to work with both the school and the students I’d be representing.”

Laney Baehler

Photo courtesy of Laney Baehler

Laney Baehler, who was voted into the SAFC in the 2018-2019 school year, hopes to get reelected in order to ensure that the SAFC is as efficient as possible. During her last term on SAFC, she said: “it was kind of a mess, and I know a lot of things went wrong, and a lot of things didn’t get done.”  

Baehler explained that “when I was in the process of trying to catch everything up, it was really overwhelming and so I want to make sure that there is a system set up so that that doesn’t happen again.”

Additionally, she would like to see that the Student Activity Fee remain as low as possible.

“Since we know that tuition is already a mess of its own, textbooks are super expensive, and we all have lives and bills to pay…the Student Activity Fee should be the least thing we worry about,” she said. However, if that concerns students involved in clubs, she added that, “it should still be enough money so that they can run efficiently, but no so much that students need to worry about.”