A look behind Parkland’s Student Government

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

Photograph by Austin Jacobson/Prospectus News Maisam Yousef working the voting table in the new Student Union on Tuesday Sept. 16. Her job was to hand out ballots to students who had not voted yet so that they could vote for who they wanted as Student Senator.

Photograph by Austin Jacobson/Prospectus News
Maisam Yousef working the voting table in the new Student Union on Tuesday Sept. 16. Her job was to hand out ballots to students who had not voted yet so that they could vote for who they wanted as Student Senator.

When students like Speech Therapy major Roxanne Concepcion, and Criminal Justice major Abby Vickers are asked what Student Government does they are unable to answer.

The consensus among students is the same; they just simply don’t know what our Student Government does.

The history of Student Government dates back to the founding of Parkland College in 1966. Over the years they have done various community outreach programs such as traveling to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit to help with the relief effort.

They address a few other humanitarian issues by hosting an alternative spring break for those who don’t travel and want to give back to the community, and also collecting recycled computers to send to Africa along with a tech specialist to help set them up.

Student Government also sits on a Programming Board along with Activities Program Manager, Chaya Sandler. They assist student clubs and organizations with ideas, creative approaches, and proposals to help with funding.

Student Government sends a representative to sit on several different committees such as the Student Grievance Committee where any student can put through an appeal if they felt they were treated unfairly. They also sit on the Grade Appeal Committee which is similar but addresses students that feel they were given unfair grades.

They are also a part of the Student Conduct Committee, Campus Concerns Committees, and the new Sustainable Campus Committee. This year they are also planning a Fall Festival, Scar-e-oke, and attending a leadership conference in Alton, IL. The student governing body consists of President Abby Vanderkloot, Vice President Tara Welch, Student Trustee James Tinsley, Secretary Madelyn Witruk, Treasurer Maisam Yousef, as well as three previous senators Jose Alzaibar, Lifeng Zhang, and Kaibin Chen. We also now have seven newly elected senators.

Last week students were voted in as the newest representatives to Student Government, including Maggie Potter, Erin Lemley, Kenia Gonzalez, Chang-hee Lee, Diarien Garrett, Holden Heiser, and Alejandro Lopez.

President Vanderkloot welcomed the new members to her team in a meeting on Thursday Sept. 18, 2014.

“I am excited to welcome seven new senators for this year and we are all excited to get the ball rolling. It’s going to be a great year for us and I know everyone is ready to share their ideas,” Vanderkloot stated.

Vanderkloot was involved in many leadership roles in high school which prompted her to join Student Government. She started out as Treasurer and moved her way to up to President in the spring of 2014.

The main message Vanderkloot wanted to get to students was, “We are here to listen to student’s complaints and then discuss what can be done to improve things. Our main goal this year is to spread the word about student government to make everyone more aware of what we do and who we are,” she said.

Student Government has changed Vice President, Tara Welch’s views on community and academic involvement. “I started out thinking it was just going to help my resume but after being involved it’s changed my views and made college a much more fulfilling experience,” Welch stated. She went on to say “Student Government isn’t quite as political as you would think. It’s more beneficial for the students and the community. I really just want to see things change for the better.”

Director of Student Life, Dr. Tom Caulfield, has been the advisor to Student Government for 16 years. He enjoys having a hand in the development and growth of character in students.

“Student Government makes an annual trip to Springfield on Student Advocacy Day to meet with lawmakers and representatives. This trip helps both parties in the fact our Student Government can get a glimpse of legislation in a larger format,” Caulfield said, “The lawmakers also get a feel of what’s happening at the local level and can give various pieces of advice.”

As members of a community, it is our right and our responsibility to know what’s going on around us at every level. When we are faced with controversial issues at a state or country-wide level the easiest option is to turn away.

Student Government, along with Caulfield, urges any student that has pressing concerns to reach out to them in their office in the new Student Union, room U117.