By Kellie Alcozer
Pulse Staff Reporter
“A total inspiration, a coalition of leaders” is the way Palo Alto College Psychology Professor Tony Villanueva described the Student Leadership Coalition of Palo Alto College. Lately, this group of students has been receiving recognition in the San Antonio community for their stand against the removal of majors from the transcripts of the Alamo Colleges. Local news channels, such as Fox 29 and WOAI News 4, featured the group voicing their concerns to the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees at a meeting on Oct. 28. Villanueva described meeting with the board as “raw passion.”
The removal of majors is not the first issue the Student Leadership Coalition has concentrated on. The group formed during the 2014 Spring Semester to tackle the issue of mandatory eBooks. College District Administrators wanted to automatically charge students an eBook fee for each class they enrolled in. Students challenged the chancellor at a Town Hall meeting on March 20, 2014. Members have met once in the courtyard or available classrooms to discuss various tactics, such as protests, petitions and letters. For those unable to reach the group during meeting times, anyone can connect with the group through their Facebook account, Student Leadership Coalition. Although the group’s current focus is fighting against the removal of majors, they plan to confer on all issues affecting the Palo Alto student body and the surrounding community.”
Facilitator Simon Sanchez defines the group as a “student-led coalition based out of Palo Alto College. We are just trying to act effectively on student issues and concerns.”
The group has formed an alliance with the Communities Organized for Public Service and Metro Alliance. C.O.P.S./Metro is a coalition of congregations that work to identify leaders who can effectively act on behalf of the community. Together, C.O.P.S./Metro and the Student Leadership Coalition plan and organize their actions. The Student Leadership Coalition also hopes to branch out to the other Alamo Colleges.
Sophomore Kimberly Garcia said, “We’ve been trying to get them to take on their own coalition at their schools.”
Currently, the SLC is made up of 34 core members, but the group would like to have at least 100 members by the end of Spring 2015. As an unofficial organization, this group’s structure differs from most. The SLC contains no elected or appointed officers or official members. Differing from PAC’s Student Government Association, the Student Leadership Coalition targets the issues of both PAC and the community. Sanchez and Garcia want students to know that anyone who wants to be involved is invited.
Garcia said, “Students should be aware of this major change and voice their opinion with us.”
With the attention they have received from the media, community and the Alamo College District, Villanueva said, “People don’t know what to do with them.” Villanueva serves the group as a listener and supporter. “They have a lot of courage to speak on issues that most may find difficult,” he said.
Palo Alto College president, Dr. Mike Flores, said, “Students should be critical but able to analyze every side of the issue. We hope to move forward with the solution. It is important we work together.”
The status of the removal of majors from transcripts has not been reversed liked the Student Leadership Coalition had hoped. Discussion of transcripts stating students’ field of study is being considered. The SLC will continue to work alongside C.O.P.S./Metro Alliance for their next project: living wages for the Bexar community.
“We want to try and make a difference,” said Garcia.