By Angela Suresh & Dan Barnett
Students and faculty were left with more questions than answers after the ASUWT town hall meeting last Wednesday.
A select panel of ASUWT board and senate members looked to calm concerns of the 20 student body and faculty members present, but the meeting ended in confusion as one of their members walked out crying.
“There is no unity with the board and the senate, and there are issues that need to be fixed within us,” said Laura Yanez, one of the ASUWT senators on the board.
The town hall meeting — designed for students and faculty to voice concerns in a public forum — began with ASUWT president Berkan Koroglu introducing himself and his committee members. Koroglu followed up by providing his backstory and his accomplishments. In an attempt to connect with the audience, Koroglu said he “had failures,” but “came out of it,” and his goal was to influence as many people as he can.
But it seemed this meeting was more a Q&A for Koroglu.
As students began answering questions, Koroglu consistently took lead — even as other board members stepped in. When Director of Internal Affairs and town hall board member Christie Peralta Peralta stormed out of the meeting in tears, it was because she felt the students presenting their concerns were not getting the representation they deserved.
“Berkan was not instilling confidence, nor giving the students the opportunity to speak for themselves,” said Richard Lovering, a student who attended the meeting.
As the meeting continued, more board members began answering questions, but students seemed puzzled by the answers. Many of the questions led to side conversations after the meeting rather than definitive answers.
The only representative who seemed to recognize the issues was Senator Yanez, who spoke frankly about topics. Peralata even appreciated how the ASUWT senate members were acting as the “real” ASUWT and didn’t dodge the issue.
As Koroglu struggled to answer questions about why Peralta walked out, Senator Yanez jumped in and said, “It was time for the students to be heard and that time that we take a seat and listen.”
Yanez also said the ASUWT board and Senate talk to the student body “only once or twice a year at the most,” and those short meetings are, “what is considered to be the input of the students.”
It’s unclear what the plans were for the town hall meeting, as the the last meeting minutes for both the senate and the board of directors on the ASUWT website only shows up to October of last year.
Director of Outreach Ameez Khan said, “Accountability is going to be decided by us as students as it’s something that is constantly being brought up and something we want to do.”
After Wednesday’s meeting, let’s hope he’s right.