While discussions often revolve around whether to approve spending hundreds of millions of dollars in an unassuming boardroom in Santa Monica College’s business building, the March 6 SMC Board of Trustees meeting included stories of community members and discussion of students’ issues.

Eight board members represent the Santa Monica Community College District. Locals living in the district elected seven of the trustees, while SMC students voted last year for the current student trustee, Chase Matthews.

Early in the meeting, heads of different departments presented their reports. Jennifer Chen, President of Associated Students, the school’s student government, talked about their preparations for the upcoming elections for next year’s Associated Students board of directors, as well as the current vacancy of AS Vice President after the former AS Vice President Edgar Gonzalez stepped down last month.

Georgia Lorenz, Vice President of Academic Affairs, talked about the current enrollment statistics at SMC. One of the changes Lorenz noted they made for this semester was the date when students can sign up for classes, with the fall 2018 semester’s registration planned to be in April rather than May.

Lorenz explained benefits of this change, saying it’s “giving students more time to plan their summer and fall schedules, and also it’s more in alignment with the other community colleges in the area so we’re sort of all on the same timeline.”

The Disabled Students Program and Services also gave a report to the board on their current status. Started in 1975, it originally served less than 65 students, but now assists over 1,800 students. DSPS director Stephanie Schlatter mentioned that one upcoming change would be removing the word ‘disability’ from their program to make it more accessible.

Nathalie Laille, a faculty coordinator for the DSPS, talked about the benefits the center brings for its students, telling the board of a man who spent nine years at SMC and, with the aid of the center, managed to transfer and eventually graduate from the University of California, Berkeley.

“I know statistics [are] important, but what is really meaningful for us is our stories, because our stories of our students [are] really what describes what we do for our students and with our students,” Laille said.

Two major items of business passed were for authorizing the issuance of bonds; the first was for up to $180,000,000 from measure V in 2016, while the other was for $80,000,000 from the 2010 series A-1 in 2008. These funds can go to potential projects the college is working on, such as the upcoming Student Services building or the Early Childhood Education Lab School.

The meeting ended just shy of 10:40 p.m. and was adjourned in memory of Vida Opp, who worked for the city of Santa Monica for more than 30 years, retired at 85 in 2016, and came to SMC to pursue a degree in history.

As per the Brown Act, agendas and minutes are uploaded online prior to meetings at http://smc.edu/ACG/Pages/Trustees-Meeting-Information.aspx. Board meetings are open to the public and convene at 7 p.m., the first Tuesday of every month in Santa Monica College’s Business Building (BUS) room 117.

Ethan Lauren is a student at SMC and a member of the SMC Corsair’s student newspaper. This story is published as part of a partnership between the Corsair and the Santa Monica Daily Press.

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