Responses to 2020 Survey

  • Group name: De Anza Associated Student Body
  • Group chairs: Katelyn Pan (2020-2021 DASB President), Shelly Michael (2019-2020 DASB President)
  • Discussion dates: Responses submitted to Office of College Life on 7/15/2020 and 7/29/2020 through 8/1/2020

Members participating: Ananya Bapat (2019-2020 DASB Senator, 2020-2021 DASB Chair of Legislative Affairs), Casey Cosgrove (2019-2020 DASB Senator), Katie Hsu (2019-2020 DASB Chair of Diversity and Events), Halina Liang (2019-2020 DASB Chair of Finance), Grace Lim (2019-2020 DASB Senator and Chair of Finance, 2020-2021 DASB Chair of Finance), Shelly Michael (2019-2020 DASB President), John Nguyen (2019-2020 DASB Chair of Flea Market), Paige Wallace (2019-2020 DASB Chair of Student Rights and Services)


Questions and Responses

Question 1: What do you believe works well about the current governance system? Please list.

Response

  • Ananya Bapat: Having student representatives on shared governances is an aspect that works well.
  • Casey Cosgrove: Students have the opportunity to be involved in the decision making process for the different aspects of De Anza college.
  • Katie Hsu: - history (references) - resources (both tangible and intangible) - structure (detailed bylaws etc.)
  • Halina Liang: Students are given the impression that they're invited into the decision-making process and that their voices matter. There are some meetings where students are not banned from attending. This is a start, but there is a long way to go.
  • Grace Lim:
    • DASB/Student Trustee Elections are public
    • clear, publicized Agendas and Minutes that are sent days before the meetings
    • Public Comments in the beginning and end of each Senate meeting to listen to student concerns
    • internal committees with their own responsibilities and authorities
    • completely transparent budget, and transparent documents and processes to explain budgetary decisions
    • Budget Rubric system and Request For Information that makes budget deliberations/allocations more efficient and transparent
    • members are required to attend other shared governances
    • professional DASB Advisors, Accountants and Secretary that are always willing to help and guide DASB
    • fostered a community where everyone is encouraged to speak
  • Shelly Michael: I think that the implementation of mentors for student representatives works well. I also appreciate it when shared governances abide by the Brown Act. I think it's tremendously important to publish agendas on time and be transparent in our actions.
  • John Nguyen: Nothing, there is nothing that the shared governance has done right. The environment and how the staff treats students has proven to us that we are not wanted, we don't get to vote or say anything because they will brush it off or not even care. When students present, the staff would be too busy watching videos out loud in front of students and would tell us to wait, rather than being more respectful and hearing what the students say.
  • Paige Wallace: The structure had at times been successful and was effective in getting decisions made for the campus.

Additional Comments

  • Casey Cosgrove: It's important for students to be involved and informed so they are able to report back to the DASB senate on items/decisions that impact students. It's also critical that they are the voice for all students so the administration understands how decisions will impact students.
  • Grace Lim: My first time joining a DASB meeting was October 16, the third Senate meeting of the year. Ever since, I've not been involved in other advocacy groups/internship programs on campus except for a few Clubs. Naturally, my opinions would be biased toward DASB because I do not have much student groups to compare it with (such as VIDA, FA PAC, PPS, etc.)

Question 2: What do you believe does not work well about the current governance system? Please list.

Response

  • Ananya Bapat: 
    • Members who sit on all shared governances have to actively be inviting students, DASB members and non-DASB members, to sit in on and participate in meetings.
    • There needs to be constant communication from governance members, i.e. staff/ admin/ facility) to student representatives
    • All student members need to be able to vote and have voting privileges.
  • Casey Cosgrove: 
    • Items that are on the agenda do not have a description for what will specifically be discussed. Example: "De Anza Event Center" and that's it. What about the event center? Are you going to tell us about future meetings, current progress, etc. Give us the details.
    • Supporting documents that will be discussed are posted on the website the morning of the meeting. We need to have these documents online earlier so members of the shared governance committee are able to review them and prepare questions/comments on those documents.
    • Not enough time to discuss items on the agenda.
    • Mentor-ships were something that was supposed to happen, but it was unclear how students reach out and initiate this process.
  • Katie Hsu: 
    • efficiency
    • requirements for members (not selective due to the lack of participants) popularity
  • Halina Liang: I was the DASB Chair of Finance in IPBT in the 19-20 academic year. As a member of the executive board, I'd been one of the most committed Senators in DASB, regularly putting in 20+ or even 30 hours a week and staying constantly up to date on everything Senate related. I'd started attending IPBT meetings in Spring of 2019- two quarters before I officially started with my role in Fall Quarter. Even as one of the most involved members of Senate, and second in line for succession of the role of DASB President (after the vice president), I did not feel empowered to challenge current systems or share my voice in IPBT. This is a non-comprehensive list of some barriers I've noticed against student engagement:
    1. Constant use of acronyms and academic jargon makes it nearly impossible for student representatives to follow the committee conversations they're thrust into, much less contribute intelligently. I had one informal rundown of the terminology ahead of my first IPBT meeting, however, I know many of my fellow Senators had no such introduction. Even with my briefing, it was nearly impossible to remember all the verbally-explained acronyms that were thrust at me at rapid speed in the space of 10 minutes. In conclusion, discussions are often held, and conclusions voted on, with the appearance of implicit student support merely because they are present within the room- however, jargon is used with such obscurity that it almost seems purposefully designed to hide the truth by packaging it so it is incomprehensible to students. In plain English, as long as extensive jargon is used in these decision-making committees, De Anza College is not acting with student understanding or support- merely the illusion of it. If you truly want students to participate in college discussions, make them transparent and easily understood.
    2. Student representatives in the current governance structure act as rubber stamps at best. It seems the only motive in favor of students attending these meetings is to enable the administration to thus claim that students agreed with their decisions. In the current structure, every dynamic is set up against student understanding or participation, aside from merely agreeing with the prevailing opinion. From your very first meeting as a student representative, you are the youngest person by 10 or 20 years in the room and the only stranger in a group of close colleagues. In any other situation among peers, you might've spoken up to challenge or ask questions, but in this dynamic, it takes incredible strength to speak up. Moreover, none of the other members engage you in any discussion or ask for your opinion. Overall, the social dynamics pressures make us silent, while the lack of interest in our thoughts keeps us silent.
    3. DASB Senators are overworked and not paid. We are prioritizing our academic success and putting great efforts into class. By the time we get to shared governance, we are exhausted from a day's worth of participation, speeches, presentations, and exams. Yes, we do want to contribute to shared governance. However, the fact that we are students first means that every obstacle a faculty or staff member faces in shared governance are multiplied tenfold for us. While a long list of acronyms may not stop faculty from committing hours weekly to learn, they are an effective barrier against students. Try to remove as many barriers, no matter how small. What isn't a big barrier for you may be greatly challenging for us. Thought experiment: Imagine if, on top of your job as a full-time professor or dean, you volunteered 20 hours a week at a soup kitchen, including a weekly strategy meeting with complex timelines and obscure jargon. How capable would you be of contributing to your soup kitchen volunteer job with the same energy and time you devote to your paid job? With this perspective in mind, what are some ways the soup kitchen executives could lower the barriers to participation for you?
  • Grace Lim:
    • only a small portion of the campus community takes part in the DASB/Student Trustee Elections (as candidates and voters)
    • although DASB Elections are public, our member makeup is not diverse (in terms of ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, etc.). We rarely have Senators from DI groups such as LGBTQIA+ community, Veterans, Foster Youth, DSPS, HEFAS, etc.
    • Senators leave before their term ends, leaving most committees barely functioning toward the end of the year
    • for some Senators, other than attending internal committee meetings and some shared governance meetings, there is little to no effort to represent DASB in other ways
    • skewed perception of DASB: this only came to my attention recently. The campus community seems to be completely unaware of all the advocacy work DASB is involved in, mostly because when we do advocate, it is directly to senior admin/shared governances/specific offices on campus where other students aren't in attendance
    • Executives tend to be a "clique," which may discourage other Senators from being more active on DASB -passive culture: we tend to wait for problems to happen/ for distressed communities to approach us, before doing anything.
    • other than Finance Senators and a few exceptions, many Senators are not prepared for budget deliberations. It is difficult to expect them to read through all the budget requests before the actual deliberations, but this lack of preparation shows when some Senators may forward cuts/increases that Finance would deem reckless.
    • a portion of our bargaining strength comes from the fact that we are still funding some essential programs on campus. Senators should be involved in decision-making and important discussions on campus because our voices represent students, not because DASB is a "cash cow" too important to lose.
    • minimal way for previous DASBs to "pass down" resources. Chairs just recently had their official Outlook accounts revived, but other Senators have no way of knowing DASB's history other than reading through minutes.
    • "lack of a vision": we're doing things because we're required to, not because we have a vision for De Anza, DASB, and its students.
    • "hard work of folks on [DASB Senate] makes up, to a certain extent, for lack of involvement on a larger scale".
  • Shelly Michael: I strongly believe that the way we engage in shared governance can be exclusionary. Using terms and acronyms that some individuals do not know excludes them from conversation (this happens particularly to students). I also do not believe that there are enough students represented in shared governance. Having one voting student representative amongst dozens of faculty and administrators, feels at most symbolic. Students deserve equal representation in shared governance. For this to occur, I believe that our shared governances need to be consolidated into a smaller group of committees. Moreover, some shared governance committees, namely, Facilities Committee, only meets once per quarter which prevents from important issues being discussed.
  • John Nguyen: The position where students sit, staff not caring for student's voice, and students have no vote in shared governance which is why they push students to the side and sometimes tells students to leave.
  • Paige Wallace: Bad representation, not equitable processes, lacking student representation/ student input on everything.

Additional Comments

  • Casey Cosgrove: All shared governance committees should follow the Brown act guidelines. All shared governance committees DO make decisions that impact all stakeholders, and therefore should be held to a common standard.
  • Halina Liang: Potential solutions for issues outlined in #5:
    1. A simple solution is to write every acronym used in the meeting with its definition on the whiteboard, clearly visible throughout the meeting. Alternatively, include anticipated definitions with the agenda of each meeting, or compile a packet or searchable document available to all student attendees. In addition to making jargon comprehensible, you should also minimize usage. 
    2. Engage students. Ask for their thoughts, invite them to ask questions (not only before or after the meetings). Make us feel like equals rather than children sitting at the adults' table. When a student does ask a question or comment, do not roll your eyes, scoff, look annoyed, or in any other way insinuate we are ignorant or wasting your time. This cold behavior in initial meetings will lead to students staying silent for the rest of the year.
    3. Helping Senators get priority registration was a step in the right direction. Consider other forms of support, such as a shared governance participation award or scholarship.
  • Grace Lim: I got the last 2 comments from outside of DASB. The first came from a previous DASB Senator. We may represent student interests, fund programs on campus and pass resolutions to support our students, and host events for community-building, but we have no bigger, more inspiring goal to achieve. Without a strong vision, we're doing things for the sake of doing. The second came from IPBT. It does speak for most of the DASB Senators. The fact that our jobs require a lot of time is usually used as an excuse for us to be otherwise disattached from the larger community. There are a few exceptions of course. However, unless we start bringing in people who could speak about their experiences on campus being involved in other areas than DASB, we could never fully understand what student interests and needs are. We may speak for students, but we'll never have the same passion and impact as those students who have lived through those special experiences and hardships.

Question 3: Ideally, how would governance groups and processes be structured at De Anza? How would this work in practice? Please provide a summary.

Response

  • Ananya Bapat: I would like there to be less shared governances so that students, especially senators, aren't spread thin, which reduces their presence in the governances. Due to the high number of shared governance, students are usually unaware of said structure and their responsibilities. Students are presented with a plethora of shared governances regarding a variety of different topics. Choosing a shared governance becomes a stressful decision due to wanting to sit on multiple governances.
  • Casey Cosgrove: We need to increase the number of student membership and student votes in shared governance. This school functions and operates to serve its students, they should consult and allow students to have a greater voice within these shared governance groups. I think students should have about 1/3 to 1/2 of the total number of votes. That way, each committee can say with confidence, the decisions made on campus are to benefit the students they currently serve.
  • Katie Hsu: Overall I think current structure and processes of the student governance seem reasonable; however ideally, if the student governance were more known by the students, there would be more qualified applicants or participation, and students are more likely to stick with the workloads and be passionate about those tasks.
  • Halina Liang: Increasing the percentage of student attendees will greatly improve the dynamic. Instead of students representing 5% of attendees, make it 30%. Have Poli Sci professors offer extra credit to attend shared governance. Open all meetings to all students who may be interested. Recruit DASB interns to attend. Higher student proportion will lead to higher engagement.
  • Grace Lim: In most if not all shared governances on campus, there are equal representation (or at least available seats) of faculty, classified staff, and admin. Ideally, we would also have equal representation of students and allow non-DASB students to be official student representatives in these shared governances. Speaking for PBTs, although their decisions would directly impact the instructional/administrative/services side of the college, at the end of the day, no matter what decisions they make, students would be impacted. This is the same for other shared governances. All groups and processes should be transparent in whatever they do, and make a conscious effort to include students in conversations and decision-making. Governance groups should have little to no overlap, then report to a bigger group such as the College Council. Right now, as only DASB is allowed to send student representatives, and Senators usually leave before their term ends, it is very difficult to ensure that all student seats are filled in all shared governances. Merging the governance groups may help.
  • Shelly Michael: I would recommend to have a discussion and decide which shared governance groups are necessary and which can be create or removed. Then, I would ensure that there is an equal amount of student, staff (classified, part-time, and full-time) and administrators in each committee.
  • John Nguyen: Have the staff be more respectful to students, allow them to attend these meetings, let students have a voice and the right to vote with the staff, and completely change the environment where students can feel comfortable to voice their opinion.
  • Paige Wallace: More accessible meetings (location and time), request for more student representation and accommodations made so there can be high student representation. Complete change of IPBT and other planning and budget team structures to make it entirely more equitable.

Additional Comments

  • Casey Cosgrove: I'm shocked how out of touch the upper administration is when it comes to student concerns, not to mention how they brush our concerns to the side when we vocalize them. My peers have been mocked in IBPT for concerns about COVID-19 in early March when students told DASB that they were concerned for their own safety. We need to meet students where they are and be inclusive and sensitive to their needs. This still makes me angry--we had legitimate concerns and we were continuously brushed aside. 

Question 4: In the ideal structure you suggested above, how would members of the governance groups be selected? Please provide a summary.

Response

  • Ananya Bapat: Member of our Senate and even non-senate members should be given a seat. Members from organizations like VIDA, PPS, and HEFAS should be given a seat.
  • Casey Cosgrove: I'm not sure how to select members for classified staff and faculty. For students, I propose DASB have an application process and do lots of marketing online. DASB senate passed a new bylaw in June 2020 that would enable regular DASB students to officially represent DASB in shared governance.
  • Katie Hsu: I think applicants need more prerequisite prior to applying. For example, requiring applicants of senates to have experience of interns for at least a quarter or similar alternatives. However, this is a mutual process; DASB needs to have better services or better quality events for students to be willing or interested in joining. This also means that there needs to be more returning from DASB itself to its member, no matter if its real salaries or emotional supports, in order to gain more commitments.
  • Halina Liang: Open to those with interest. Don't use a strict, prohibitive selection/approval process.
  • Grace Lim: Ideally, we would have better representation on DASB. We could have General Elections as usual for the executives to make sure that the most qualified and passionate people are leading the team, but instead of having 20 opened Senator positions, we could have less. We could have dedicated seats for affinity groups (BFSA, APASA, DALA), and other dedicated seats for programs such as UMOJA, JMRR, Veterans, Foster Youth, HEFAS, etc. These specific programs would decide who would represent them on DASB. For example, we could dedicate 5 seats in total on DASB for these groups; they could have another election among themselves, or we could go by rotation system, etc. The idea is to bring unique and underrepresented voices to DASB.
  • Shelly Michael: I believe members should be selected on to shared governance groups by election, unless theyâre being selected into a shared governance group as a representative from a different shared governance in which case nomination and a vote should occur.
  • John Nguyen: I think by public vote would be the best option for the governance groups to be selected.
  • Paige Wallace: I don't feel that I can speak to how faculty and staff should be selected, however, I do feel that there should be at least three students on each shared governance committee with secured voting rights in that group's constitution. Often senators are chosen internally through a first come first serve basis however, how student senators are selected is generally an internal process. I do also believe that students who are not in senate should also be offered the opportunity to serve on shared governance to offer their perspective and opinion.

Question 5: All other recommendations and comments

Response

  • Grace Lim: It is difficult to be perfect, and I think that DASB has so far did its best with what was available. We could always reflect and improve, and I am glad that we've been given the chance to do so as a group.
  • Shelly Michael: Please ensure that students are being involved actively in the process for restructuring shared governance.
  • Paige Wallace: It could be helpful to examine what Foothill College has done in terms of their shared governance and take from that what is best and could work best at De Anza. PLEASE, make student's needs a priority in restructuring, by that I mean meeting student's needs so they can attend, be respected, and contribute to these important conversations and decisions made in governance and reshape governance to make it more accessible to all staff and students.
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