Fall 2014 Convocation Speech
President, Associated Students
Fall 2014 Speakers
August 18, 2014
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Chair of the Faculty
Chapter President, California Faculty Association
Associated Students President
Staff Representative to the Academic Senate
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the annual fall convocation. My name is Anthony Gallino, and I am a student here at Sonoma State University. It is an honor to address you this morning.
As the Associated Students President, I want to discuss the student’s perspective for the 2014-15 academic year. While I was procrastinating until the last minute to write this speech, I occupied my time with what every student does while they are not working on their homework, I reflected on the student experience here at Sonoma State University, I thought of our mantra “Lux Mentis, Lux Orbis” - “light of the mind, light of the world” and I pondered the mission of Sonoma State University and the mission of the Associated Students. And in the interest of full disclosure, there may have been some Netflix and a glass or several of wine in the procrastination mix.
With so many students, wanting so much of their college experience - the student experience at Sonoma State needs to be multi-faceted and multi-layered. The university is currently engaging in cultivating several of these layers. For example, SSU recognizes that it needs to have the best faculty possible to educate our students in both the theory and practice of their respective fields. With the University’s commitment to hiring 45 new faculty over the next several years, I believe we will be well on our way to achieving that goal. However, it cannot stop there. A well-rounded student needs far more than classroom experience in these competitive economic times.
Therefore, and secondly, the University is committed to ensuring scholarship prospects such as research opportunities, internships, and field work in our academic areas. Offering students hands on, practical application of their chosen discipline.
But still, there are other options that need to considered: how does SSU inspire students to the highest degree of excellence, if there is no bridge between the classroom and field experience? In my own time here at Sonoma it was the inspiration and encouragement I received to aspire to leadership that has been transformational in my college experience. Sonoma State students want to give back to their communities, they want to be inspired to a high degree of moral leadership, and they want to be leaders in their communities, no matter where life may take them. It is imperative that SSU takes advantage of every minute, of everyday, inside the classroom and outside of it, to inspire the minds and potential of every student of this institution. Anything less is a discredit to an institution that proclaims “Lux Mentis, Lux Orbis” as its motto.
It is my goal as Associated Students President to ensure student’s rights in this process, to work with my fellow student leaders to press the university to strive for scholarship opportunities, leadership education and the highest quality classes possible for every student at SSU.
During my 5 years here at Sonoma State University, I have seen the cost of an SSU education rise exponentially. With that huge increase the university still experienced difficult financial times. And the lion share of any additional revenue the university acquired has gone straight to additional classes. Students were not happy about paying more and getting less, and while classes and sections are essential for our students, we must have an increase in student support services on this campus. We have seen career advising, learning skills services, disability services for students, tutoring, and academic advising be essentially ignored in budget priorities. This lack of funding slows students’ progress to their degree, leaves students in need at greater peril of dropping out, and disrespects the hard work many professional staff put in to ensure our students receive appropriate advising and support services. If I were you, I would not be shocked to hear that the AS Senate is starting a conversation about student services at this institution, the quality of the student experience at Sonoma State, where our increased tuition and fees are helping toward timely graduation, and helping ALL students of SSU.
Beyond a doubt, as the cost of education has increased, so too has the rhetoric about reducing the cost of education. It is time for Sonoma State University to engage in creative and innovative solutions to reduce the cost from the students’ pocket. These solutions are presented to us all the time from the students, the CSU, and other universities engaging in reduction of cost measures. One such example is Affordable Learning Solutions, a program designed to reduce the cost of text books for our students by using open source materials. This requires all of us, students, faculty and administration to take advantage of any opportunity that can reduce the cost to our students. Again - I would not be surprised if the AS Senate is asking tough questions to the leaders of this campus about creative, innovative, and new ways to reduce the costs to students.
It is time for Sonoma State University leadership to stand together with students to ensure this university is the greatest CSU in the system. We must start looking at practical, easy solutions that are being presented to us, and look past initiatives that are not student focused. My friends and I have paid far too much, for far too little, for far too long – it is time for the students and the university to live up to its amazing potential.
We must all focus on why we are here: for the students. If there were no students, none of us would be here, but too often the students are the last group to be considered when decisions are made. If there were no students here there would be no Green Music Center, no Student Center, no Classrooms, no Athletics, and no learning. Our responsibility is to ensure an environment where students can realize their full potential, and grow to that potential.
The Associated Students leadership looks forward to working with all of you, for the betterment of all of Sonoma State University.
And as I look forward into the coming academic year, my last year here at SSU, I am optimistic and hopeful. I believe we will all accomplish great things in the coming months.