A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC students attend Academic Senate meeting to support student involvement in faculty hiring committees

Cass Stewart
Santa Rosa Junior College students filled the open forum of SRJC Academic Senate’s Oct. 6 meeting with support for student presence on faculty hiring committees.

Santa Rosa Junior College students spoke in favor of the Student Government Assembly resolution to include students on faculty hiring committees, and the Academic Senate approved a new executive committee officer of equity at its virtual meeting Oct. 6.

SGA President Delashay Carmona Benson presented the assembly’s resolution to the Academic Senate to urge them to support students’ presence on committees when they vote on it at their next meeting on Oct. 20.

“If you want to be here for the students, then understand that our voice should matter by having a vote,” Carmona Benson said.

She said having students on hiring committees will lead to increased enrollment. 

“You guys are experts, but we need experts who are also culturally competent and know how to relate to the students. Then you’re going to see more students wanting to be here,” she said.

Many SRJC students filled the meeting’s open forum with support for the proposal.

SRJC Inter-Club Council Chair Irmina Benson said SRJC sharing the power to make decisions with students would show that the college values its community.

Community input is a message to parents and students that you are important and we value your experience, expertise and intelligence,” Benson said.

Matti Cottrell, SGA’s assembly member of LGBTQIA2S+ students, spoke on behalf of the Queer Resource Center and said the center’s staff disagrees with faculty members who say students lack the experience or expertise to evaluate candidates.

“Nobody understands students better than students, and the voice of SRJC students is the most valuable asset in the hiring process,” Cottrell said.

SGA Executive Vice President of Legislation Ally Lubas said in order to be a diverse school, we need all voices, including students’ voices, on the hiring committees.

The senate also voted for and approved Byron Reaves for the new executive committee officer of equity position created in Fall 2020 and initiated in Spring 2021.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jane Saldaña-Talley announced the appointment of Robert Holcomb as the supervising administrator of the emerging ethnic studies department. Holcomb is the dean of language arts and academic foundation.

Saldaña-Talley said SRJC received $1.8 million from the state to hire full-time faculty for ethnic studies, and SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong approved the use of a portion of these funds to hire five full-time faculty and another two-and-a-half full-time equivalent adjunct faculty, and to fund chair reassigned time for ethnic studies. The amounts are based on estimates of the number of sections needed to support student demand, graduation and transfer requirements.

I will be asking Dean Holcomb to confer with members of the Black ethnic studies task force to recommend to Dr. Chong the programmatic focus for these five positions and help us select faculty to serve on these hiring committees,” Saldaña-Talley said.

Acting chair of the forthcoming ethnic studies department Dr. Emmanuel Raymundo criticized SRJC for failing to create an ethnic studies department by Fall 2021, the date recommended by the SRJC ethnic studies task force established in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

“On Nov. 10, 2020, the task force submitted its recommendations to the district and the senate,” Raymundo said. “The college has failed to fulfill every single one of these recommendations. There has been a complete absence of district leadership in establishing the department. This is more than lacking a sense of urgency, this is hostile neglect.”

Raymundo mentioned the task force was not compensated for its work despite being appointed June 10.

“The senate must acknowledge the hostile conditions under which we have labored and the significant emotional duress that it has caused. Our labor is not free,” he said.

Raymundo reminded the senate about their commitment to students, especially students of color, and compelled the district to create an ethnic studies department now.

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About the Contributors
Michael Combs
Michael Combs, Editor
Michael Combs (he/him) is in his fifth semester writing for The Oak Leaf, and his second as co-Editor-In-Chief. He began taking natural resources management classes at Santa Rosa Junior College to pursue his love of nature and the environment but has shifted toward journalism so he can share those passions with the world. Besides the environment, Michael also likes to write about politics, social justice and mental health. He has a bachelor’s of science in neuroscience and mammalian physiology from the University of California, San Diego, and hopes to get back to his roots with more science journalism as well. In his off time Michael likes to read, write and hike as often as possible in beautiful Sonoma County and beyond.
Cass Stewart
Cass Stewart, Editor
Cass Stewart (they/them) is a journalism major in their third semester at The Oak Leaf. With staff writing and editing experience, they are expanding their digital journalism skills this semester as Web Editor. Outside of campus event coverage, Cass enjoys exploring the fields of sociology, queer theory and political science in their writing. In their free time, they make their best attempt at artistic expression through painting and graphic design.

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