The First of Three General Assemblies Opens Discourse on Student Issues
BY AMANDA FRANK
Students gathered on Jan. 13 for the first of several open forum student assemblies to share ideas and connect with other communities at Evergreen. The students discussed ways for the student population to work together to reclaim student power and address issues that students are concerned about.
The assembly started with several student organizers speaking about the need for the assembly, and they invited participants to bring up ideas or issues they wanted to discuss for the day. They broke into smaller groups and covered topics including safe student spaces, food and sustainability, more involvement in student government, and radical health.
One of the assembly organizers, Dante Garcia, talked about how Evergreen’s enrollment was down 300 students over the last three years, which has resulted in the school losing over $10 million. Garcia said the effect of losing that money trickles down to losing faculty who have been here for many years and student support staff, which then affects first-year student involvement on campus.[pullquote_left]“My intention is to see through this and make sure this it not something that happens once, but actually continues.” – Dante Garcia[/pullquote_left]
Garcia said he wanted to provide a space for participants to decide what kind of conversations to have.
The organizers have planned three general assemblies, and Garcia hopes that having multiple conversations will encourage broader participation.
Garcia said he wanted to take more of a facilitator role and “step back and let the community or students identify what was relevant to them and find people with similar interests and have that conversation.”
Izzi Lemay, another student organizer, said the idea was to get as many students from all parts of the Evergreen community together to “share their ideas and desires of what they want from the school.”
“I mostly wanted to see some new faces and talk to people and get a better feel of what issues are important on campus,” Lemay said. “There were some new ideas that I hadn’t thought of before.”
The theme for the general assembly was “student power” and will be held over three different meetings throughout winter and spring quarters.
Garcia said he thinks that students at Evergreen have great ideas and the best intentions, but there hasn’t been a space to facilitate these conversations. “My intention is to see through this and make sure this is not something that happens once, but actually continues,” said Garcia.
Participant Erick Duke said he was prompted to come to the assembly to get to know more students and reclaim student power. He said he sees himself participating in the committees formed out of the assemblies and is excited to watch and see what happens.
“I’m interested in seeing what becomes of this, what kind of action plan is taken and to see how well this comes together,” said Duke. “This is the first assembly, but it definitely won’t be the last.”
Photos by DANI WINDER