Campus Life and Student Leadership Through ASSC
Written by: Sierra College
Campus is abuzz with excitement because elections for the Associated Students of Sierra College (ASSC) are coming up in April. The ASSC, of which all students are members, is the student government body for Sierra College and it is vital to student life at the college, providing an opportunity for students to demonstrate leadership, advocate for student needs, recommend revisions to college policies, and much more. For current ASSC President, Josh Vines, having student leadership on campus, “not only allows students to build life skills, it allows students to have input in the future of the college.”
The ASSC has a long history at the college. There has been some form of student government at Sierra College since the school opened in 1936. The earliest version of the Associated Students sponsored college plays, sports teams, and dances. The current version of the ASSC was established in 1985 by the Board of Trustees to promote student engagement and leadership at the college. Recognize that students are active participants in their education is one of the District’s core values.
The ASSC now represents over 17,000 students in the Sierra College District and provides oversight for the revenue earned through the student center fee and the student activity fee. The ASSC budget is managed by the 19-member Student Senate, which meets weekly to discuss policies, hear campus updates, and determine priorities. “Student Senate is a great place to find other hard working and dedicated students from all walks of life,” noted Vines. “It’s rewarding to see hard work turned into action, where you can walk around campus and see changes as they are being made.”
For example, one of the ASSC’s most recent initiatives was the development of a food pantry for students who struggle with food insecurity. The food pantry (located in the Student Center) is available to all currently enrolled students and has expanded beyond food and snacks to offering personal care items such as toothbrushes and socks. The ASSC has also funded campus improvements, such as the installation of shade canopies over the amphitheater. This shaded area is now widely used during the lunch hour, as is the beautiful courtyard connected to the campus center which was also an ASSC-funded project.
ASSC also provides oversight for the 30+ student clubs on campus. The student clubs serve to connect students with similar interests, a common cause or course of study. Many clubs organize campus-wide activities or participate in annual events. The student clubs create a vibrant campus environment and an opportunity for students to be involved in college life. “ASSC takes part in, and supports, a variety of programs that happen on campus, thanks to the networking and connections we build,” explained Vines.
As ASSC President, Vines serves as the Sierra College governing board’s Student Trustee, which means Vines participates alongside the seven elected members of the District’s Board of Trustees and has an advisory vote. He is included in many of the community events the Board attends, and meets other civic leaders and elected officials as a result. Serving as a student trustee is a unique opportunity available to community college students.
The Rocklin Campus ASSC is advised by Campus Life Coordinator, Juan Miguel Blanco, who previously supervised student programs at American River College before coming to Sierra. “I’m here to support students through their leadership journey,” stated Blanco. “This year, we have been focusing on parliamentarian procedures and local, state, and federal laws that govern student government.” The student senators have been reviewing the bylaws with the assistance of a professional parliamentarian, which has allowed them to “dig deeper into the process,” according to Vines.
As a member of the Student Senate, students may also participate on the college’s governance committees. Governance committees are comprised of students, faculty, staff, and administrators and are responsible for providing input into the strategic direction of the college. By sitting in on the governance committees, students have their voices heard and can advocate for student needs on campus. Blanco feels that this is an essential part of the role of ASSC on campus, “Student leadership is vital on all college campuses and having student voices in governance is essential in creating a student-friendly environment and culture.”
ASSC Past President, Nooria Munir, who transferred to UC Berkeley last year, reflected on her time as a student senator and as President/Student Trustee: “I never thought I would ever be a part of student government. Before Sierra, I had no interest in politics and public service because my family didn’t discuss it. I just didn’t grow up in an environment learning about our government and how it works. A friend of mine encouraged me to join and I’m really thankful that I listened to her. Joining the student senate is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I met people from all walks of life, grew as a leader, and as an individual, and I was able to advocate for student needs and use my voice and platform to make a positive difference.”
“Leadership is a journey, not a race,” Blanco concluded. “And, all leadership responsibilities require commitment and passion.” Blanco, Vines and Munir all agree, student government is for everyone and there is an avenue for any student to find success in leadership.
For students interested in participating in ASSC, please visit the Rocklin Campus Life office in J-7 or the Nevada County Campus Life office in N5-105 or call (916)660-7382.