It has been quite an academic year.
As this is the last issue of The Broadside until fall 2011, it’s a good opportunity to consider the role COCC’s student government played on our campus and what we can learn from the situation and the grander elements of our community and year that we can be most proud of.
We have seen the Associated Students of Central Oregon College spend nearly $360,000 and watched as the group scrambled to meet their obligations at the end of the fiscal year. Some of that money went towards events, a food bank, bat passes, club and program maintenance (including The Broadside) and some went toward an expensive trip to Washington, a social media manager, cell phone stipends, a “news” magazine and $56,000 to pay a lawyer and a PR consultant and other items.
And somehow, despite an intense year of legal back and forth, a new constitution now provides oversight over what had previously been a very loosely defined student government.
And what will be the tone of next year’s government?
We know that service to students should be undertaken in a humble way with a great sense of fiduciary responsibility. Student fees are public funds. Expenses should reflect that and not pad the pockets of friends and allies.
Open government laws should be respected.
While constant vigilance is the price of liberty, we need a sense of law so that certain behaviors are stamped out, proclaimed unacceptable.
Some actions, no matter how autonomous a student government thinks it may be, should not be allowed to stand.
Lies, misrepresentations and threats should not be a part of the way any government is run.
Since the new constitution was recommended to the COCC Board and passed by that body, we have a sense of where the buck stops. Some years, room given to a student government body may be generous, other years, somewhat restrictive depending on the circumstances. That’s fair. While elections are a great way to clean house or maintain the status quo, they are only one part in keeping officials on the level.
The entire community needs to trust that those who spend public funds are held accountable for what they do. We need to know someone is watching out for us and has the power to do something if events get out of hand.
Despite the ongoing news surrounding the COCC student government, other aspects of our campus life functioned beautifully and admirably.
Most notably, the construction taking place here on the campus and in Redmond and Madras. The increased capacity will provide the room for more students to realize their educational goals in professional settings. As each door swings wide on its opening day, all those involved should feel a deep sense of pride.
All year, hard working administrators, faculty and staff strive to make both campuses run smoothly and keep their educational focus. You need only watch a teacher go the extra mile with a student, or take a stack of work home to know that dedication to education drive these facilities. Attend a board meeting and you will understand the detail and work ethic involved in keeping a campus financially viable, vital and vibrant.
And to the students who face challenges just to show up to class, I salute your strength, dedication and courage.
Kirsteen Wolf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org