Students start club in support of part-time faculty

By Shelby Willard

A new organization has started at Cal Poly Pomona, and although it’s a small group of students, they want to make big changes.

Student Interest Association is the newest organization to hit campus after news broke about potential staff cuts due to the semester conversions.

At the moment, the organization connects virtually and meets once a week as a leadership council.

Although technically not a club, SIA has been utilizing Facebook as a way to connect students that are seeking change on campus. SIA started earlier in the quarter according to Sandy Balunis, a second-year mechanical engineering student.

“We heard about the whole semester conversion in class,” said Balunis. “The point was raised in class that some teachers might lose their jobs.”

Balunis said that the idea spread like wildfire amongst Interdisciplinary General Education students.

According to the group’s Facebook group, the goal of SIA is to “promote a positive educational environment by voicing the concerns of students during administrative decisions.”

Noemi Guerrero, a second-year mechanical engineering student, met Balunis in a series of IGE classes.

“We realized, that we as students, were not satisfied with the way our school handled issues that impacted students drastically,” said Guerrero.

The series of IGE classes Balunis and Guerrero were enrolled in tackled social issues, and they found that many of their fellow classmates were just as passionate about the topics as they were.

“We were like, this sucks, we need to do something,” said Balunis.

But news of the organization didn’t just include students. Roseanne Welch, an IGE professor, heard about the online group from fellow staff members and was curious to see what students were up to.

Although she is not an advisor or advocate for the students, Welch was amazed by the ambition of these young students.

“From what I understand the students are very motivated,” said Welsh about to the group that started the organization.

Welch operates on the idea of “last hired, first fired” and understands the fear that many teachers are beginning to feel about semester conversion.

“We [teachers] preach that people should get involved and make changes where there needs to be changes, its pretty impressive that students go and do that,” said Welch.

SIA is still in its beginning stages, but members hope that more students will want to become involved after hearing about their mission statement.

“It is the opinion of SIA that it should be the best teachers that get to work, because the best teachers will produce the best students,” said Balunis.

Currently, the members of SIA are still in discussions about whether the organization should try to become a club on campus, or rather a free floating organization that allows more flexibility.

But Balunis is positive that the organization will be utilizing more communication tools besides Facebook.

“There’s a lot that we’re looking forward to doing, but we haven’t necessarily accomplished yet,” said Balunis.

SIA has looked into petitions and protests, but had little to say about whether they were interested in such aggressive forms at such an early stage.

“Members of SIA felt like teachers who worked really hard and were really passionate about students but just weren’t on the right track were getting punished, and it drew a light to a much bigger problem,” said Balunis.

Despite the idea stemming from an IGE discussion, members of SIA are not just looking for an A in the class.

“It’s something that we see as a problem and want to change, there’s no grade at the end of the day,” said Balunis.

Cash

Monica Lopez / The Poly Post

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