Calling all student politicians:
ASCC delayed the deadline to apply for Executive Council positions earlier this week from May 2 to May 13 in order to allow time for more candidates to complete their applications, according to ASCC Public Relations Director Ian Williams.
Members of the ASCC Executive Council “advocate and represent the students of Clark College by serving as the liaison between students and faculty, staff, administration and community,” according to the Clark College website. The council, which meets every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in PUB 160D, makes decisions that affect the day-to-day operations of the college, such as organizing student activities and coordinating clubs and programs.
“These positions are really critical,” said Dean of Student Success and Retention Matt Rygg. “We empower our student leaders with quite a bit of autonomy and decision-making.”
While ASCC would not release the current number of applicants for the Executive Council positions, Student Life Director Sarah Gruhler said the decision to postpone the deadline was necessary in order to find enough candidates.
“Several of our applicants also applied to the Activities Programming Board and other leadership opportunities,” Gruhler said. “If they accepted another position in another leadership group, we may later have to reopen the positions.”
According to Gruhler, the lack of applicants is a recurring problem which may stem from students not learning of the opportunity until it is too late to fulfill the application requirements.
The ASCC president, vice president and club coordinator were elected directly by students until Spring 2011, Gruhler said. But due to low voter turnout, the ASCC decided to pursue an alternative.
“When you have low voter turnout, to make sure that you’ve really got the right people in those positions, the next best option is to treat it like an employment application,” Rygg said.
ASCC did not provide voter turnout figures from the 2011 election.
Another reason for the change, Williams said, was a lack of applications for student government positions.
“We usually only had one or two students campaigning for each position,” Williams said. “So we moved to this process that’s easier for applicants and more fair for students.”
ASCC members are paid $10 per hour. To apply, students must be enrolled in at least eight credits at Clark, have completed at least 12 credits and have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Applicants should fill out an application available outside the ASCC offices in PUB, attend two meetings and acquire at least 50 petition signatures from students, then turn in those materials along with a 250-500 word qualification statement. Applications should be submitted to ASCC Vice President Madison Schilling’s office in PUB 160.
Once all applications are received, considerations and interviews will be conducted by a selection committee consisting of the outgoing ASCC president and vice president, another member of ASCC, the director of Student Life, a faculty or staff adviser appointed by the Executive Council and four students, according to ASCC bylaws.
To apply for one of the four student body positions on the selection committee, students submit applications to the ASCC vice president, who is the chair of the selection committee. The vice president will review the applications before submitting them to the Executive Council to be voted on. This screening process is intended to prevent any particular student group or club from having multiple members on the selection committee, and to ensure that the students represent the student body as accurately as possible and are qualified to help decide on the appointments.
“Usually the people who are on the selection committee have a keen understanding of the rules of student government, the functions and the responsibilities,” Rygg said. “We trust them to make good decisions on behalf of the student body.”
Students applying for an Executive Council position cannot serve on the selection committee.
The selection committee members must sign a confidentiality contract designed by ASCC in conjunction with Clark College Human Resources, according to Williams. The contract ensures that selection committee members “agree to keep confidential all matters relating to the interviews, and further agree not to discuss or disclose any information about the interview process itself, the applications, their ratings or discussions and recommendations made during the interview process.”
Gruhler cited protecting the information of applicants as the main reason for the confidentiality contract, and said ASCC hoped confidentiality would encourage applications.
“When the students created this process, they were sensitive to public rejection, since this was a reason often cited as why people did not want to campaign,” Gruhler said.
This system is comparable to those used by other community colleges in Washington, according to sources at Everett Community College, Seattle Central College and Peninsula College. Peninsula has an event for students to interact with candidates and provide selectors with feedback, according to Peninsula College Associate Dean for Athletics and Student Programs Rick Ross.
ASCC, however, has decided against making even the names of applicants publically available.
“This is a job application process,” Gruhler said. “When you apply for other jobs, it is not made public knowledge that you are applying. Student have considered larger open forum events, but in their discussions have determined not to include it in the process.”
Gruhler maintained, however, that the student government could remain effective despite the lack of transparency.
“We encourage students to interact with student government and share their thoughts and opinions throughout the year,” Gruhler said. “We try to have a variety of student voices on the selection committee, and do our best in training to help prepare leaders to support all students throughout the year.”
Rygg said that any calls for transparency by students should be taken into account by ASCC.
“This is a process that the student governments come up with,” Rygg said.
“We try to be empowering to them. If that’s something that the students want more transparency in, I think that’s something that should be brought up in discussion.”