SDSU community asks for a voice

by Ana Ceballos

An open presentation for students to pose questions to university administrators about concerns regarding the current budget challenges was announced last Tuesday in an email to San Diego State students.

This email was in part sent as a response to a letter from student-activist organization Reclaim SDSU to arrange an open forum solely devoted to questions and concerns of students, faculty, staff and parents. The intent of Reclaim SDSU’s letter was to create an event for the campus community, instead of a lecture to select individuals by the administration, according to the organization.

“We just want to make sure the issues we are most concerned about are focused on,” Reclaim SDSU member Matt Blythe said. “We don’t want our questions to be pre-screened and not represent the actual concerns of the community.”

Before the open presentation for Associated Students was announced, the administration had sent Reclaim SDSU an email stating it would send a formal response with the time and location for the open forum. Yet, the formal response had the open presentation specifics enclosed, rather than those of the open forum.

While the subjects of the open presentation will pertain to the university’s budgeting process and fiscal outlook, student questions can be incorporated into the presentation if submitted no later than Friday. Some students felt this was a positive move on the part of the administration.

“I think it’s a good, different idea that AS is reaching out to the students not only to inform them as to the reasons behind the budget reduction, but also to see what our questions are as a student population,” theatre arts junior Liliana Silva said. “I hope the student body takes advantage of the opportunity to educate themselves since no one likes the idea of budget cuts. If we motivate ourselves to understand more about the fiscal state of the university and involve ourselves, we can come up with a stronger solution as students.”

According to a few members of Reclaim SDSU, an hour and a half is not much time to address students’ concerns, and devoting only a portion of that time to students’ questions is insufficient.

“We are disappointed that the new president of SDSU has chosen to give a lip service to our calls for a transparent dialogue, instead of honest and horizontal engagement of the SDSU community,” Blythe said.

“We asked for faculty, staff, parents and students to be involved and invited,” Reclaim SDSU member Elena Horvitz said. “We want everyone that is affected to be involved, so an open forum with only students would be unacceptable.”

Nevertheless, when 25 students were asked whether or not they had received the email, only eight confirmed to have received it.

“We want the format of the presentation to be more democratic and not some sort of dictatorship,” political science graduate student Amir Shoja said.

Parents are also welcome to attend the open presentation.

The announcement was sent to registered emails in enrollment services. According to Shoja, “Communication efforts have not been very quick or successful,” which is why he said the deadline for questions will be extended to next Friday.

Faculty members were not officially invited to the student budget open presentation because three sessions were held for budget faculty presentations last week.

According to the university administration, the reason the open forum was replaced by an open presentation was that the administration believes it would be more productive and more organized.

“If we receive the questions in advance, we can be more productive during the presentation,” chief of staff Andrea Rollins said. “If we get organized more information can be shared and there can be a better flow and logic to the information.”

“I would like to be involved in an open forum,” SDSU parent Jeff Horvitz said. “I would think most students are working as a team with parents to complete their college education, so parents should be involved.”

The presentation will be moderated by A.S. president and vice president, Cody Barbo and Krista Parker, and will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 in Arts and Letters 201.