LMCAS a voice for students

Elizabeth McLaurin, Staff Writer

Perhaps you have walked past the conference room to the left of EOPS on a Monday. You might have even walked by between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. and noticed a small group of students huddled around a square cluster of tables. But what you might not have known is those huddled students crammed in that room were your student government representatives.

The student government meets in Room SS4 412 every Monday to discuss various student issues, find ways to improve the student experience at Los Medanos College and make sure students are fairly represented on campus.

“I feel a responsibility to make sure our voices, student voices, are heard and not overlooked by administration,” said Priscilla Tatmon, president of LMC Associated Students. “All the hard topics that are being talked about, I want that brought out from the student perspective so it can be easier to work together with administration to change different policies and different things on campus.”

As is the case with nearly every governing body, student governments are also subject to rules and standards by which they’re expected to govern. And here at LMC, there is no shortage of pages that make up the Los Medanos College Associated Students bylaws.

Arguably, its most powerful and prominent language is displayed up front, where the value and importance of student representation reads loud and clear.

“It is vital that the students of Los Medanos College are provided with the proper representation in every element of campus business,” it states. “LMCAS positions are held with the intentions of giving the student body a voice and the means in which to use it.”

The bylaws provide the mission and vision under which the LMCAS operates — a mission carried out every semester through the dedication of countless hours by a small group of passionate students. This small group is, for all intents and purposes, the collective student voice on campus, with the obvious idea being that student needs are best understood by the students themselves.

LMCAS is made up of three tiers – officers, senators, and representatives. The variations in each position are minimal with officers having the most notable and well-defined roles. Officer positions include president, vice president, treasurer, commissioner of campus events and commissioner of publicity and outreach.

Student government meetings are more formal than an outsider might expect. Every meeting starts with attendance, where Tatmon calls roll. A record of who’s in attendance is important because a certain number of senate members must be present for the meeting to take place. This is called a quorum and it’s a requirement that at least 50 percent of the board be present.

Other formalities exist too, such as amendments and motions and second motions to the first motions. Then more votes and tallies. It’s all very governmental, appropriately so, but formal etiquette and language aside, meetings are the best way for students to address student government with their concerns, issues, needs or ideas. Every weekly meeting is mainly dedicated to the current state of student life at LMC.

John Nguyen, staff advisor to LMCAS, sees student government as the most effective channel for students who want to talk about their struggles and successes.

“It’s representation at a relatable level,” said Nguyen. “Student government members are also students, they can relate to the feeling of being a student.”

One of the most notable functions of LMCAS is handling the student budget. Every semester, every LMC student is responsible for contributing a kind of contribution to the LMC campus. Five dollars from every student goes into a budget controlled by student government. With these funds, LMCAS is able to host events and provide free snacks and drinks. Various clubs on campus can also request funds to pay for activities and supplies for their groups.

The weekly meetings offer a space for lots of topics to be discussed. Topics have ranged from student safety and student engagement on campus, to a proposal to supply feminine hygiene products in campus restrooms. There is action to backup all that discussion.

“Some issues brought to our attention were the ADA buttons around campus weren’t working and that the water quality was bad in the refillable water stations and those got fixed immediately,” said Nguyen.

In the final meeting of 2018, it was a time for goodbyes as seven senate members announced conflicting spring schedules that wouldn’t allow them to participate this. But, according to Nguyen, high turnover in student government is the norm.

“We see this every semester. Students can’t make the commitment due to class schedules, but I already have three new applications for senator positions,” he said.

It was clear that many outgoing senate members weren’t exactly thrilled to leave their posts, and a few took extra time to express their gratitude for the opportunity to serve. Senator Marco Mendez took a special detour to quickly thank, not only his fellow peers, but also reflect on the impact his time in student government has had.

“It’s been such a pleasure working with you guys and I think LMCAS has really helped me to develop as a person, also as a student,” he said. “I’m really thankful for all the people I’ve met. I’m gonna miss you guys.”

Tatmon, who said new openings are new opportunities for other students, reflected on her own experience: “I got to meet a lot of different people and network, so I thought it was very helpful and helped me grow as person.”

If you’re interested in joining student government, you can go online to the LMC website and search LMCAS to find information about senate meetings or how to apply. Applications are always welcome. If there is one part of LMCAS the entire board can agree on, it’s increased participation.

“It’s not the school’s fault or the administration’s fault, it’s really like LMCAS members’ fault because it’s our duty to promote LMCAS and student government and try to have students understand what we do,” said Tatmon. “It’s our responsibilities to advertise that and spread the word.”