Each year, the Salt Lake Community College Student Association (SLCCSA) identifies priorities in their efforts for the year. As SLCCSA president for a second term, my goal is to widely share with the campus community about our focus this year so that all campus entities can collaborate with us and efforts across the institution can respond to student needs.
The effects of the pandemic continue to impact student life and success. SLCC students are dealing with increasingly unstable social structures and stressful home lives. We’re worried about paying for food, struggling to pay rent, and stressed about how to do it all on top of doing homework. How can you learn in times like this? While SLCC students continually persevere through these challenges, we in SLCCSA want to support students by advocating for changes at the school that reduces common barriers we face while at school. SLCCSA has identified three guiding questions to assist students during these difficult times:
• How well does the school represent the diversity of SLCC students?
• How well does SLCC retain students already enrolled?
• How can SLCC and SLCCSA reorganize itself to better respond to the student voice?
SLCC students represent the increasing racial diversity of Salt Lake valley. While the affordability of SLCC within the state draws in a diverse community, the institution is not without barriers for students of color. Especially as an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution, we need dramatic changes across the college to better serve Latinx students. SLCC can be more welcoming, have more targeted resources for students of color, and reduce institutional barriers for undocumented students. We hope by focusing on representation, we can better serve students of color and particularly students who are left out from programs across the school.
SLCC students are struggling to stay in school, which has created a retention crisis. SLCC students want to make a difference for their families and their communities. Incomplete degrees or failing to transfer are a problem. SLCC needs to better understand why so many students leave without achieving their academic goals.
SLCCSA’s structure has been focused on and oftentimes reduced to event planning. While events are important to the school environment, the student government should prioritize its efforts on making SLCC a better place for students. Taking a stronger stance on student advocacy, SLCCSA wants to reshape the way that student leadership is viewed at this college. When we are in spaces that require student participation, our voices will be heard and valued. We want to increase the visibility of the Senate, prioritize student advocacy on EDI and explore new models for student involvement.
Here are three ways that SLCC students can take action in support of this vision. First, I encourage students to use these guiding questions to formulate questions to for the student forum with President Deneece Huftalin on Tuesday, Sept. 27. You can pre-submit questions via Campus Groups through Sept. 21. Second, these guiding questions can start conversations in student clubs and organizations. These can be important conversations to hold during the Clubs Conference or during Inter-Club Council. Third, I encourage students to email me directly with any questions, concerns or ideas for changes at SLCC. Finally, I believe what makes our campus unique is that SLCC students care about one another and help each other out. Each of us can think of ways to help our classmates feel more connected to our school, which makes a real difference. Each SLCC student that commits to one or two things has an exponential impact here on campus and helping all students to succeed.