What is Saddleback College’s Associated Student Government doing now as they adapt to COVID-19 restrictions?

Danya Yassine and Samuel Lockhart, Saddleback College students, running for ASG president. Danya Yassin & Samuel Lockhart/Courtesy

As the spring semester passes the halfway mark, ASG prepares to take on a new president and vice-president. On April 7, the student-run organization held a president and vice-president Q&A for candidates to ask questions about the positions. The special event is an extension of the students’ innovative solutions to an unprecedented problem – COVID-19 restrictions.

Applications for the president and vice-president roles are still open, with the special election coming to an end. There are two students running for president, Samuel Lockhart and Danya Yassine, and Ingrid Martinez is running for vice-president unopposed. Elections will be held on April 14 and 15, and the results will be announced on April 16.

Adam Brownell, the current president of ASG, came into his role at the beginning of the pandemic and faces challenges like creating events that students would want to show up to.

“We’re still able to do events, but we have to think about it in a different way,” he said. “We try to think of it like when we do it through a different medium and how we can attract people.”

Brownell’s campus experience as the ASG president was short-lived as the campus closure was enforced immediately after his campaign. Nevertheless, he attributes the role as an accomplishment and a significant learning experience.

Soleil Berkson, the Director of the Campus Sustainability Committee, is working on future events to bring students together this month. The committee’s efforts to engage with students off-campus encourage ASG directors and the council to think creatively.

“We are looking to do a sustainable craft night on Zoom, and then the week of Earth Day, we’re going to have a bunch of events including more documentaries, a ‘Jeopardy!’ game night and a guest speaker,” she said.

Alexis Alford, also known as Lexie Limitless, is the guest speaker and she will share her experience as one of the youngest people to travel to every country globally and include how climate change has impacted these countries. Berkson plans on creating an RSVP list for these events on the student development website.

Matthew Smith, the Director of Inter-Club Council, meets with the council weekly to go over funding for clubs at Saddleback. The council assists in maintaining each club while approving funding requests. Club Rush is a significant example of how the pandemic has influenced student interactions under Smith’s direction.

“Online, it’s harsh,” Smith said. “You just gotta hope that they read your message and hope they see the email or the newsletter versus when it’s in person.”

As Smith’s time as director of the council comes to an end, he still has hopes to influence some change. He is looking to change the bylaws and how the committee has been run in the past.

“I wanted to see a little more club interaction because, in the past, the clubs and the board were kind of separate,” Smith said. “The board was really only involved when the clubs needed money.”

Smith has drafted new and improved bylaws that will change the voting system and include more club involvement where groups will have the chance to vote on matters.

Specific deadlines have been extended for students that have been struggling during this semester. Brownell empathizes with students as he understands the pressure some might be feeling at this point.

“The second thing that we’re running into is that a lot of people are just overwhelmed with school,” Brownell said. “So to ask people to do their homework and go through the motions of turning in assignments and then to come to our events. It’s really hard. So I can’t blame anyone for not coming to them as frequently as we would like them to.”

The excused withdrawal and pass/no pass grade options have been extended to 11 p.m. on May 6. If the course allows pass/no pass option, students will receive credit for the class, but they will not count towards their GPA. Therefore no units will be earned, and there will be no adverse impact as students will simply have to retake the class.

Excused withdrawal can be used if a student is academically struggling due to the pandemic and cannot complete a course. Students need to keep in mind that there are no refunds for enrollment fees or non-resident tuition.