Meet Your Board of Trustees Student Representative, Sonia Paul

Madison Venckus, News Editor

Q: What is your required time commitment on the Board of Trustees?

A: “For the board of trustees, unlike the other officer positions in student council, I don’t have a set amount of office hours. I am more a part of the board than student council, which is something people get mixed up with.


Q: What are some of your job requirements?

A: “A majority of my job is communicating with the students around me about what they are doing in school and how they are involved. When talking to the previous student trustee, I learned that a huge part of my job is to show the people on the board what they are supporting. They don’t usually get to see the students’ side of the clubs and activities they support at the school, so something I would like to do is bring people in to speak at meetings to endorse those clubs and activities. A lot of it is acting as a liaison between the student council and the board. For example, if student council is trying to make a decision, it is my job to look at the situation from the board of trustees’ point of view.”


Q: Why did you originally want to be the student representative on the Board of Trustees?

A: “To be honest, when I was running for the position, I didn’t completely know what it was, I just knew I wanted to be involved in some way in student council. When I learned more about the job on the board, the thing that attracts me is being able to voice not only my opinion, but the opinion of other students around me. Having an impact on the decisions they make is a pretty good job. I like the influence I am able to have.”


Q: How do you represent the student body?

A: “I’m working on a few things, one of them is called ‘Coffee Connections.’ It’s one way for me to reach the entire student body, because if I’m only asking my group of friends, and people who are involved in clubs, then I’m not really getting the opinions of the entire student body. With ‘Coffee Connections’, I’d like to sit down somewhere with a lot of foot traffic and hand out coffee and talk to students who come by. I think it would be effective to reach a broader audience in a shorter amount of time.”


Q: When can we expect to see ‘Coffee Connections?’

A: “I’m hoping to get it together by late October, early November. I’m thinking once every few months.”


Q: Who is the ideal student to assume a spot on the board of trustees?

A: “I think the person who would be best for this role would be a person who wants to grow themselves. When I say grow themselves I mean grow themselves while stepping into the adult world. When I took this position, I didn’t know how many things I would be learning, whether it’s going to board meeting or speaking to people with different experiences than me. What happens on the board as a student representative is a lot of independent work. It’s not the same thing as being an officer on student council that gets to work with other officers; I do a lot of work reaching out to students and clubs.”


Q: Why do you think COD struggles with student involvement?

A: “The fact that we’re at a community college makes joining stuff and becoming involved even more difficult. That is one of the main issues that we face, I think, and we just have to let students know that even though we’re at a community college they can still get involved.”


Q: Why do you believe students are unaware of your position on the board of trustees?

A: “I didn’t even know about my position until I knew it was available for me. Speaking from my own experience, I didn’t even know what a trustee was. I think it’s the lack of education on the positions and opportunities that are available to everyone. When I look back, I think about the fact that there’s a lack of communication between the student trustee and the student body. Nobody really knows what I’m working on in the background, which is surprising because the job of the student trustee is to advocate for the students. I think having the student trustee or members of the student council speak during events of activities would raise awareness for our leadership roles. I’m surprised we haven’t done more of that.”


Q: Why do you think your position matters?

A: “First of all, this position exists for a reason. The students deserve a voice in decisions the board makes, and without the student perspective there is an unfair vote on decisions that matter to us. The second thing is I want people to have this opportunity; I want this to be available to them. It’s sad because there are a lot of students that want to go on and pursue a higher education or government (position) and this could be their chance to pursue that career. If students don’t even know these positions are available to them, it’s unfair to them.”


Q: What sort of topics do you cover in board meetings?

A: “We talk about budget changes and whether we will put our money in one thing over another. A lot of our meetings are about recognizing certain departments in the school. For example, the last meeting we had the library come in and give a presentation on things that are available at the library and their target audiences.”


Q: What is one of the most difficult things about being on the board of trustees?

A: “I think the most difficult thing for me is navigating the different use of language. I’m starting to get used to it now, but I’m still getting used it it. Other members are so used to it so they talk so fast, but I am still working on comprehending things they’re saying.”


Q: What are some projects we can look forward to in the future?

A: “One thing I want to keep on looking into is the possibility of a multicultural center. I feel like we’ve tried to work on that in the past, and since there’s been so much going on at COD in the past we haven’t gotten to make much progress. I’m going to talk with some people that work in the center of diversity and inclusion and also talk to my fellow officers about that.”


Q: What other activities are you involved in at the school?

A: “I’m president of the Psychology club, which is our chapter of the psychology honors society. I’m also an officer for the Love Your Melon campus crew, which is an organization that hands out free beanies to those with cancer. I’m also a returning member of Best Buddies. Also there’s student ambassadors, which is a program that allows students to give tours of COD to other students that may be interested in enrolling. We also volunteer at certain events throughout the year. I’m also involved in NSO, which is the new student orientation program.”

Madison Venckus