Feb 10, 2008

Caucus moves forward

Executive Board seeks new officers


One of the biggest challenges of building and maintaining a state student association is recruiting and retaining strong officers.
For the first time in nearly four years, the Black Caucus had a complete Executive Board following elections at the 9th Annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference held at Laney College in Oakland; however, due to personal and professional reasons, a few elected officers were unable to serve their terms.
Parliamentarian Brenda Lewis of Skyline College resigned before the Board’s retreat in June to focus on her academics, while the Board voted to vacate the Central Region Chair position, then occupied by Cameron Brown of Modesto Junior College, as no officers were able to contact him.
"It’s a struggle to maintain a statewide student organization," said President Marlene C. Hurd, "especially when representing a under served population. We have difficult circumstances and face many challenges others don’t have to deal with."
But this year’s Board has not let it hinder progress. "But the struggle continues," added Hurd.
In the beginning of the fall, the Board suffered another major loss when Northern Region Chair Kathleen Madden was unable to continue her studies at the College of Alameda and was ineligible for office.
"We lost Kathleen at a crucial time, right in the beginning of the year," said Secretary Reginald James. She was the best regional chair I’ve seen; very motivated and resourceful."
In October, despite the very strong presence of the Caucus at CCCSAA, the Board was unable to identify students to serve in vacant positions.
To make matters worse, by this point, both Vice-President Phillip Austin and Southern Region Chair Jamal Harris had accumulated more than three unexcused absences. However, the group, lacking a definition of an "excused absence" gave the officers the benefit of the doubt and did not vacate their positions immediately.
"Jamal was our only officer in Southern California and since our conference is taking place there, he was our link," said James. "And Phillip was at the table with the Student Senate and sat on Consultation Council."
Eventually, the Board decided it was appropriate to vacate both positions and rebuild the Board with new officers.
"Losing Phillip was devastating, he was our connection at the state level and a source of tremendous knowledge," said President Marlene C. Hurd.
Austin had to return to the workforce full-time and was unable to fully commit to the Black Caucus or the Student Senate.
Student Senate Council Treasurer Jeff Hale said, "Phillip was not only a student of color, but he was a veteran and a member of the workforce."
"We lost a powerful voice in Consulation [Council]," he added.
The Board had to finish out the rest of 2007 with only three remaining officers.
Led by President Hurd, the Board set out to find officers to fill the void of the missing students.
By-Laws committee chairman Muja’hid Abdul-Barik accepted the appointment as Parliamentarian and was confirmed by the Board. Soon after, Madden, who began taking classes at City College of San Francisco applied to be reinstated and was also confirmed by the Board as Northern Region Chair while Lisa Martin of Los Angeles Valley College was appointed as Southern Region Chair.
The Board carefully considered who to appoint as Vice-President as they are next in line to assume the presidency if the President is unable to serve. Charles Brown, BSU President of Grossmont College had previously served as Black Caucus Vice-President in the Spring of 2007 and as an at-large Senator for the SSCCC. Brown’s appointment was unanimously confirmed.
With four appointments occurring at one January meeting, the Board is almost complete, again.
The Caucus is currently searching for a Central Region Chair and a Communications Officer.
"Once we have a complete Board, officers can focus on more specific tasks and projects and won’t be so spread thin," said Hurd. "We are going to be much more effective this spring."•H•