Updated: Oct 24, 2020
President Farouk Ajibola and the ASU lead the student body into challenging times.
By Gene Wickham, Staff Writer
The recent ASU meeting reflected the board's commitment to keeping Valley College students involved and informed during the pandemic and also showed their enthusiasm for supporting national and international issues.
Newly appointed President Farouk Ajibola, a computer science major, expressed his thoughts earlier for the coming school year.
“With my position overseeing [and] promoting events,” he said, “I would hope that the role I play helps contribute to more students being interested in getting involved.”
Vice President Shoshana Cassell expressed her views about the uniquely trying times for Valley.
“With the ongoing difficulties of the current COVID pandemic,” she said, “I would like to accomplish, for all students, to feel like they have a community here at LAVC.”
The finance portion of the meeting cleared up some financial problems resulting from what was expected to be a reopening of the campus this fall. The $3,000 that was allocated for club and organization food was moved to “contract” purposes due to the continuing coronavirus lockdown. The previous semester ASU had allocated the funds with an expectation the pandemic would be over by the fall. With no on-campus meetings, the funds became unnecessary.
ASU is funded by a voluntary $10 student fee. Last year, the board allocated $200,000 for this year's school budget. Any remaining money was deposited into an ASU savings account.
During the main executive session, several issues were introduced which engaged the board.
“Flip the West,” a grassroots political organization which is helping Democrats win back the White House, was seeking Latino volunteers to help with their phone-banks during the final days of the 2020 campaign. The organization also sought to do a presentation for Valley students. The board showed an interest in promoting the organization’s flyer as an informational source, but was unable to fully back the organization due to its partisan nature supporting Democrats.
The current Armenian conflict with Azerbaijan has impacted the Los Angeles Community College District because of its large Armenian students and staff. The board focused on the actions of Sonia Meroian, the ASO president of Mission College, who has been organizing for the Armenian cause including donations, Zoom information meetings and LACCD support.
According to Ajibola, “She is trying [to motivate the] whole district to come together and reach out to all Armenian students in all the colleges.”
The Valley Star has reached out to Meroian for comment but has not received a response.
Recently, tons of donations arrived in Armenia to help its citizens. The board sought to establish on-campus drop off bins for Armenian donations. Because of the difficulty of any on-campus activity, ASU Advisor Monica Flores suggested a partnership with a church or Armenian organization. A long-time charity, The Armenian Fund, recently received a $1 million donation from Kim Kardashian-West to support Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Peter Filippi, the commissioner of ethnic and cultural affairs, and three other board members are forming a subcommittee to keep the Armenian situation in the forefront.
Flores promoted a program from San Fernando Valley, District 18, State Sen. Robert Herztberg, called “Youth Listening Sessions.” This is an ongoing series on Zoom concerning social and political issues. The next session will be on Nov. 9 and will discuss "Prison and Policing Policy."
“During each session, approximately seven youth speakers will be selected to talk at length with Sen. Hertzberg about an issue related to social justice or environmental policy,” according to the flyer from the senator. “It's a great way to learn more about local government and how it can tackle issues that are top-of-mind for many young people.”
An application is available online to participate in the Zoom discussion. Even if a student is not chosen to sit on the panel, they can join the Zoom session as a member of the audience and enter questions and thoughts during the Q&A section. The Zoom link will be published on the senator's website.