Newly-formed board offers student perspective to campus leaders

By Kim Lamb Gregory

Jazmin Guajardo is a pre-Nursing student whose entire first year in college was virtual. Ray Visaiz is a graduate student working toward his teaching credential, and Bailey Morris is a sophomore Health Science major with invisible disabilities.

Their varied experiences are just a snapshot of the different perspectives every CSUCI student has, which is why Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Toni DeBoni created the Vice President for Student Affairs Student Advisory Board. The process began in Fall of 2020 when now Interim President Richard Yao was Vice President for Student Affairs. 

Top left to right Angel Novo, Emily Bugielski, Tiffany Carillo, and Aurora Rugerio

Left to right: Angel Novo, Emily Bugielski, Tiffany Carillo, and Aurora Rugerio

“This creates an opportunity for students to have space for dialogue with the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Dean of Students,” DeBoni said. “This opens the conversation and allows for collective action.”

DeBoni and Yao formed the board after receiving student feedback that expressed a desire for more direct access to the decision-makers on campus.

With inclusion and diversity in mind, DeBoni opened up applications to the entire student body. Out of the roughly 40 students who applied, DeBoni and a selection committee comprised of Student Government representatives chose 10 students with diverse outlooks and varying concerns.

“We prioritized applications in which they highlighted different identities,” DeBoni said. 

“We wanted the experiences and voices of marginalized and underrepresented students on the board.” 

As a first-generation college student, board member Guajardo experienced difficulties during the pandemic that were shared by many of her first-year and first-generation peers. 

“It’s hard for first-year and first-gens to gather during the pandemic,” Guajardo said. “First-year students are usually working, and they tended to work more during the pandemic.”

After surveying fellow classmates, Guajardo asked that the 15-unit requirement for a scholarship be relaxed as many students who would like to apply for a scholarship are struggling under the 15-unit load, especially if they have to work an outside job.

Left to Right: Ray Visaiz, Bailey Morris, Celeste Hellstrom, and Jazmin Guajardo

Left to Right: Ray Visaiz, Bailey Morris, Celeste Hellstrom, and Jazmin Guajardo

Visaiz, who is a graduate student within the School of Education, brought a graduate student’s perspective to the board. “I love it here at CSUCI,” Visaiz said. “But I really want graduate students to have social opportunities to get together, and a graduate honors program for more visibility on campus.”

Because of a childhood congenital heart abnormality, Morris has difficulty with fine motor skills, a learning disability and hearing loss. Morris wants to make sure students with disabilities are part of the University’s mission toward inclusion and diversity.

“I’ve been advocating for disability rights and mental health awareness on campus,” Morris said. “It’s very near and dear to my heart because I’ve dealt with these obstacles first-hand.” 

The student advisory board’s priority at the moment is inclusion and diversity, improved communication with campus leaders, and providing their feedback as campus leaders make decisions about repopulation in the Fall. 

DeBoni meets with the board twice a month and says she has been impressed with their dedication. “Despite all of the competing demands on these student leaders, they consistently show-up to make a difference for their peers and future students,” DeBoni said.

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© Spring 2021 / Volume 26 / Number 1 / Biannual

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