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Young Leaders Get Sobering Lessons in Campus Politics

EDUCATION / AN EXPLORATION OF IDEAS, ISSUES AND TRENDS
IN EDUCATION

Education: The experience of some student officers at the county's community colleges has been more disappointing than rewarding.

June 15, 1998|PAMELA J. JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"That's how things get done," he said. "We make it clear that personality issues are left outside the door. We work as a team."

He said during his election campaign, he remained friendly with his main rival.

"We helped each other," he said. "I made her posters and she made me posters. We actually walked around the campus, campaigning together. It was a fun election."

Knowing decisions can be overruled by administrators does not discourage him, Gallardo said. When administrators object to student decisions, students should acquiesce and move on, he said.

"We try not to take 'no' for an answer," he said. "But if they do say 'no,' we move to plan B."

Last semester, students raised enough money to sponsor their first college dance, Gallardo said. Members have also launched a campaign supporting teachers in their contract dispute with district officials.

At Moorpark College, students recently started an escort service, using money from the organization's general fund. Students can now be safely transported to their cars at night in a golf cart.

Outgoing President Dan Peate, 20, said he traveled to Sacramento to lobby state legislators on a number of bills affecting community colleges. By doing so, he said, student government helped obtain the state funds to expand the college's child-care services.

He attributed the accomplishment in part to the student government's solid relationship with the administration.

"They give us leeway and trust us," he said. "On most issues . . . administration is cooperative."

Although that does not seem to be the case at Ventura College, Sanchez said she at least will walk away a bit wiser. When she eventually transfers to a university, she said, she will consider again getting involved in student government.

"I'm sure back stabbing will be there, too," she said. "That's politics. You see it in every public election. I've come to the realization that it's all part of the game. When you get into politics, you've got to play the game.

"But I've learned one thing the most," she said. "You've got to play fair. I can take this with me."

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