Lack of fruit trees, financial aid and food. These are just a few of the concerns that Santa Ana College President Annabelle Nery heard from students at the first President’s Town Hall of the semester Tuesday.
Nery answered questions alongside Associated Student Government President Melani Fernandez after the two spoke from a list of prepared questions during a videotaped Q&A at the Spot.
The main queries from students fell into the general categories of money, food, representation and accessibility.
“What’s being done to help LGBTQ+ students?” Said May Tanner, a student and volunteer for the History Department and the Nealley Library.
Nery replied that there is a group that is working to spend state funds dedicated to a center for LGBTQ+ students, though there is not currently a timeline.
In response to ASG Senator of Health Sciences Anaely Guadarrama’s question about new faculty, Nery said 18 new hires will join staff across multiple departments including automotive, global business, fire technology and legal studies. Also included in this year’s hiring spree is an additional psychologist in the Health and Wellness Center and a CalWorks counselor.
El Don Co-Editor in Chief, Kate Bustamante asked about the school’s plans to extend COVID-era relief funding since the money that pays for the Cash for Credit program and other financial assistance ends in June.
Nery assured students that the program would continue for the next 18 months on state funding, and that during that time the college would be working on a way to make it a permanent financial resource.
“We have an 18-month window to figure out how to institutionalize it,” said Nery.
Nery responded to some student questions with as much context and information as she could off the top of her head. Others, like the possibility of getting Google and Apple Pay in the SAC Bookstore, were added to an ever-growing list.
“I imagine that would be easy to do since everyone is doing it,” Nery said of alternative payment methods. “Let’s add it to my list.”
Several students described a lack of affordable prices for on-campus food and asked why the Thrive Center wasn’t open for students who come to campus later in the day.
“Sometimes it’s really hard and difficult for me to come to school with food,” said student Danny. Between work, studying, and class time he expressed the strain of a lack of affordable food and aid available on campus.
Student Erick Chavez questioned the lack of natural shade on campus.
“I saw a picture of how it used to be…it was covered in trees,” Chavez said, referring to the Central Mall before it was overhauled in 2017. The suggestion to plant fruit trees was also added to the list.
Chavez requested a time for students who are not enrolled in kinesiology classes to use the athletic facilities, including the weight room, gym and pool. He felt strongly after an encounter with one of the athletic faculty where he was asked to leave the room in what he described as a rude way. The request was added to Nery’s list.
ASG Vice President Francisco “Pancho” Ramos suggested extending the two week deadline for students to drop classes. He said that in instances like his where class meets once a week, many students do not have enough time to decide if the class is a right fit for them.
“Let’s add that one to my list,” responded Nery. “I love lists.”