Talon Marks hosts Student Trustee Forum


Student Trustee candidates pictured (from left): Joseph Escandon, Melanie Walters, Talon Marks staff writer David Jenkins, Raul Avalos, and Marlene Estrada. The forum was approximately 30 minutes long. Photo credit: Jenny Gonzalez

Jenny Gonzalez

The Student Trustee Presidential Forum hosted by Talon Marks lacked student attendance and audience engagement with less than 20 students.

The candidates are as follows: Joseph Escandon, Melanie Walters, Raul Avalos and Marlene Estrada.

The forum was held on Tuesday and was approximately 30 minutes, each candidate had two minutes to answer a series of questions.

Avalos answered the first question regarding balancing being a board member and student with emphasizing communication with the students on campus and “hearing out board members.”

He targeted scholarships, safety, and sustainability. He wants to create scholarships for students with a GPA of 2.0 and 3.0 and under, so students that have a GPA of 2.0 do not feel underrepresented.

He also wants to work with the Board of Trustee members to create more safety for the students. He mentions sustainability and adding more hydration systems on campus to “reduce the carbon dioxide in our air.”

After the forum, Avalos said, “[Some items] that I do want to focus on the most [are] scholarships and safety. Once I can accomplish that for us […] then I’ll go ahead and focus on sustainability.”

Marlene Estrada said she would use technology and social media to communicate with the students and their concerns and use social media to keep the students updated at Board of Trustee meetings.

She also emphasized the importance of going to the bookstore and Student Center with students and remember who she was before, if she gains the Student Trustee position.

In regard to ideals clashing with board members, Estrada says, “I wouldn’t try to be afraid by conflict. Conflict is part of human nature. I’d do the same as Raul; I’d take a step back and analyze the situation, get to the core of the conflict [and] seek advice.”

After the forum, Estrada said she would target safety and pushing the winter session availability. She also mentions “disability, eligibility for scholarships, classes (STEM departments)” and would, “execute these ideas by working closely with the current Student Trustee Karen Patron to see what plans have been set in motion in order to do these things.”

She emphasizes the importance of student engagement and if the students see a canopy or forum, she advises them to see what is going on and to inform themselves. She adds that successful events on campus are based off student participation.

Answering the second question regarding conflict among board members and Student Trustee, Walters said, “I would have two options: I would find a middle ground between my ideals and whoever […] is in conflict with me and […] talk to those who aren’t […] and ask them ‘Hey, is there something that just seems wrong or is this not the best idea?’ My second option would be to take time on my part and say “Hey, maybe I have to think this over. Maybe this isn’t the right thing to do.”

Walters added, “My platform is that I am an advocate for the concerns of students, not only for them but also for myself because I am also a student […] and [I] also want to advocate for staff members because they have concerns too,” after the forum.

Her target is to make her presence known and communicate effectively with students, clubs and programs on campus. She feels that even though she can’t be there for every student, she is going to try her hardest to advocate for them.

For the third question involving the decision to run for this position and goals for the student body, Escandon said, “When I first started ASCC government, I started off as a Court member and it kind of branched off into wanting to do more for the students […] I just really wanted to get involved. I want to find solutions for our student government with the Board of Trustees and [have] more platforms for students to come and voice their issues [and] concerns.”

He adds, “The Town Meetings promotion of our activities is big for me. The reason why I find it [important to] me is that we only had about 15 people at our forum today when we have over 20,000 students here at school. If we could get at least one percent of those students to attend a forum like this, we should have 200 students.”

He wants to target the those that only take online courses because he believes they aren’t focused on as much as students who attend classes on campus. He says he will continue to fight and increase student awareness and attendance, and will still be a part of Project Outreach.

Co-Campaign Manager for Raul Avalos, Kishan Lalla says, “All the candidates who talked today are very well qualified for the job. […] It would be interesting to see what happens on election day, when it comes down to just talking to students and how they approach students. I’m obviously confident that Raul has a stronger position, but we’ll have to see with the results.”

Elections will be held Wednesday, April 5, and Thursday April 6 in front of Student Activities patio. Students only need a valid California ID or Driver License to vote.