SGA approves May 15 Unity Walk and discusses campus reopening

SGA logo

Courtesy SRJC

SGA plans a peaceful Unity Walk for students and community after a challenging year and discusses hopes for a hybrid campus that will best serve students this fall.

Audrey Fry, Reporter

Santa Rosa Junior College Student Government Assembly approved a May 15 Unity Walk, collected student concerns about campus reopening for SRJC leadership and hosted community members who spoke about social justice issues.

SGA members unanimously approved a Unity Walk 2-5 p.m. May 15 to take place on the Santa Rosa campus that will bring together students and the community after a long, challenging school year. The peaceful walk will feature speakers and entertainment along its route towards downtown.

The event is open to all students from all SRJC campuses, staff, faculty and Santa Rosa community members. Tentative plans include inviting students to walk with their clubs and groups from the intercultural center. Graduating students are invited to wear their caps and gowns.

Senior Dean of Students Robert Ethington invited SGA members to submit questions and concerns regarding campus reopening in fall to be shared with campus leadership.

“We need to take everyone into consideration,” said Student Body President Delashay Carmona Benson. “We’re dying to get back to school; we also don’t want to be dying going to school. We gotta look out for everyone. We gotta make sure that the environment is safe for us to go back.”

The consensus among SGA members, students and faculty who spoke was to make campus as accessible as possible to best serve the diverse needs of students, both those who are eager to return to campus in-person and those who need the flexibility of online classes to maintain work and family commitments.

“For me, being able to be so involved is all because of Zoom,” said Santa Rosa Vice President of Marketing, Abrea Tillman. “I have my business and I have my daughter. So if I can’t do these things over Zoom, I fear that I’m not going to be able to be involved anymore. So, I would advocate for some type of Zoom option.”

There were also calls to partially open the campus so that clubs could meet in-person and students could use the quiet space and Wi-Fi provided by libraries. Ethington said outdoor study spaces will be piloted over summer.

Vice President of Student Services Pedro Avila closed the discussion by saying SRJC’s reopening will ultimately be determined by guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control. With California’s color-tiered pandemic guidelines ending in June, Avila reminded the group that no one knows what CDC pandemic guidelines will look like for college campuses come fall.

Contact Benson with your questions and concerns about campus reopening.

Three Santa Rosa community members shared how their jobs affect social justice.

Eddie Alvarez, the first Santa Rosa city council member from Roseland, said he takes great pride in representing his people in District 1, which includes Roseland and South Park. He encouraged students to reach out to get involved.

Former Human Rights Commission Chair Dmitra Smith spoke of her efforts to document the violence Black Lives Matter protestors experienced at the hands of Santa Rosa police last summer. According to Smith, the report asks Santa Rosa to ban the use of tear gas, projectiles, kettling (corralling) techniques and military-grade weaponry on residents.

Smith will present the report to the Santa Rosa City Council at 1 p.m. May 4 and invites students to attend

Students interested in working with Sonoma County on human rights issues like racial justice, LGBTQ rights and homelessness can attend a meeting of the Commission on Human Rights.