SRJC Board of Trustees approves transition toward in-person athletics, denounces anti-Asian violence and updates land acknowledgement

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Courtesy Michael Combs

SRJC’s Emeritus Circle construction projects include newly installed sidewalks, curbs and driveways.

Jennifer Sawhney, Reporter

Santa Rosa Junior College President Dr. Frank Chong announced the Sonoma County Health Department approved the SRJC’s athletics department’s transition plan at the Board of Trustees meeting on March 9 over Zoom.

“You will see the student-athletes practicing and getting back into condition for athletics and doing it safely distanced with no fans in the stands,” he said.

In regards to the overall transition process, Chong said, “It will be more of a dimmer switch than a flick of the switch. We will gradually transition back to life as soon as it is safe to do so.”

While the vaccination effort is underway, spearheaded by director of Student Health Services Rebecca-Maria Norwick, Chong also announced a senator’s advocacy for more vaccines for SRJC. He encouraged all employees to get vaccinated if they can.

Sandra Sigala, president of Service Employees International Union, announced the beginning of vaccination distribution for SRJC employees on March 10 through Student Health Services

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pass a resolution to request support against Anti-Asian violence. This was preceded by public comments from members of the newly formed group, Asian Pacific Islander Staff Association (APISA), who denounced the increase of Anti-Asian violence. 

“Systematic oppression will not end with a single action, but rather continued efforts by all of us,” Sigala said.

The board also unanimously voted to update its land acknowledgement to include Coastal Miwoks. The board passed the current land acknowledgement in Oct. 2020 and recognized the Santa Rosa campus as the traditional land of the Pomo people. The updates will recognize that the Petaluma Campus lies on the traditional territory of the Coastal Miwoks.

Dr. Chong highlighted the library staffs’ efforts to provide students with resources amidst the pandemic. 628 laptops, 414 hotspots and 658 calculators have been given out so far. Library services still have supplies available for students in need with more on order.

Site updates by Serafin Fernandez, director of capital projects, included two notices of completion. The Doyle Library’s first floor media services project was completed along with the Fiber Ring project, which provided upgrades to the campus’ data network. The barn upgrades at Shone farm are nearing completion with the roof nearly installed. Emeritus Circle’s ongoing upgrades included newly installed sidewalks, curbs and driveways.

Sean Martin, president of the All Faculty Association, argued in favor of a faster return to in-person learning, as he cites a “severe loss of instructional quality and the overwhelming workload online instruction entails.”

Student Body President Delashay Carmona Benson announced a fundraiser to purchase uniforms for police cadets, plans for a social justice event and the upcoming “Trashion Fashion” show.

In regards to the upcoming one-year anniversary of the lockdown, she thanked students, staff and faculty for their perseverance and acknowledged the difficulties many have faced. 

“We are the students of history. We have had to deal with COVID, Black Lives Matter movement, fire season, the worst elections ever, and it is still happening now,” she said.

Pedro Avila, vice president of student services, gave a report on the programs and services the Southwest Center offers; they include ESL, college skills, non-credit and older adult education courses. In collaboration with the library, they also distributed laptops and calculators to students throughout the pandemic.

Michele Larkey, instructional designer for the Distance Education program, was recognized as employee of the month for her leadership during the rapid transition to distance education.

The next board meeting will be held at 4 p.m. April 13 on Zoom.