By Lindzie White
The Massachusetts State Senate passed Amendment #93, an amendment that would change eligibility requirements for Student Trustees at community colleges allowing part-time students to hold the position. “The effort to change the decades-old law, and address the significant equity issues it has caused in recent years, was led by Cape Cod Community College’s Student Government Association (SGA) President, Caitlin Marotta, and Vice President, Lindzie White,” Patrick Stone, Director of Communications at Cape Cod Community College.
This position serves as a fundamental voice on the Board of Trustees, bringing a student voice to decision-making processes related to finances and operation of the institution at any college in the Commonwealth. The Student Government Association held a rushed election in October. With success, the new Student Trustee Max Kennedy now represents all 4C’s students at the Board of Trustees. “We are thrilled how our student leaders recognized a critical need and worked with our State legislators addressing the eligibility of our part-time students to serve as Student Trustee,” said John Cox, President of Cape Cod Community College.
The SGA has done its part working collaboratively with the Student Advisory Council to push all legislators into action but now the ball is in the legislators’ court. While the amendment did pass the Senate, there is still a waiting period. There has been no word yet on if it gets passed with the budget as the deadline keeps changing due to COVID-19. However, it is known, “with the amendment passed in the Senate, it now moves to a Conference Committee, composed of three members from both the House and the Senate. Since the amendment was adopted as part of the Senate budget, it will be considered as part of those negotiations,” Stone.
A quick history of the Massachusetts General Law and why SGA decided to amend the law. The position has remained attached to full-time enrollment status despite changing demographics in the state’s community college system where more than two-thirds of all students are enrolled on a part-time basis. There has been a significant change in the trend of student enrollment. Now more than ever there are more part-time students attending college, over ⅔ of community college students are part-time and many come from under-served demographics. “The MGL requires that student trustees are full-time, we have lost several elected trustees because they could not maintain the full-time course load” Caitlin Marotta, President of SGA. “Throughout our tenure as SGA officers we have been without a trustee more than we’ve had one, the trustee has an important role to play in college governance and we have been missing that powerful voice.” Max Kennedy is the current trustee and he was elected in a special election this fall because the previously elected trustee could not maintain the credit requirement. Only full-time enrolled students in Massachusetts community colleges are eligible to hold the position of Student Trustee, which is a seat on the College’s governing Board of Trustees.
Support the Student Government Association by sending them a thank you letter. The student leaders can be reached by email at SGA@Capecod.edu. The SGA leaders will keep fighting for this law to be amended so one day all demographics of our community college can be equally and equitably represented.