Student voices matter in campus decisions


Maureen Linzaga | The Union

During the March 18 COVID-19 Task Force meeting, it was decided that El Camino College will keep its indoor masking mandate for the majority of campus buildings. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the response to new situations also need to evolve, whether those situations are good or bad. 

With the continued decrease in COVID-19 cases and indoor masks no longer being required in California, changes can be implemented for businesses and institutions to make public experiences safer.

Decisions such as the masking mandate should not be made by a small group of people. The opinions of those who make up the majority of a community are crucial in deciding what the best course of action is and these decisions should be polled and researched over extended periods of time.

The decision to keep the mask mandate at El Camino was made only three days after the Associated Students Organization (ASO) gave students the ability to voice their opinions in a Google Poll on the official El Camino College Discord server, and only one day after posting it to their Instagram Story, which has now disappeared. 

While The Union Editorial Board remains impartial on the recent decision to keep the mask mandate, El Camino College should have focused on reaching a larger consensus of their student and faculty body over a longer period of time.

Screen captured from El Camino Associated Students Organization Instagram.

Information regarding the number of students taking part in the poll was also revealed during the recent COVID Task Force meeting, with 198 votes tallied. When reaching out to Enrollment Services at El Camino College, The Union was told that as of March 3, approximately 15,400 students are attending the spring 2022 semester. 

Almost 1.3% of students filled out the mask mandate poll. With the El Camino Discord consisting of 968 members and ASO’s Instagram at 1,511 followers as of March 23, the largest percentage of El Camino students who could have seen this announcement is almost 16%. But with variables regarding who can see the poll such as alumni, staff, the public, duplicate accounts on both sites and individuals who follow both Instagram and Discord, the percentage is most likely lower than 16%.

Professors at El Camino College have had more student input about the mask mandate. Darcie McClelland, a biology professor, polled 361 students during the same time frame as the ASO mask poll, but had a different approach.

McClelland told The Union she not only gave all students in her classes a poll regarding the mask mandate, she also reached out to other Academic Senators to poll their students and grab information on their thoughts of keeping masks on campus.

Although it’s only 2.3% of all El Camino students, McClelland also spoke to staff, wherein 2,749 staff of full time, part-time and temporary status currently work for the El Camino College community, according to Marketing and Communications. 

Screen captured from “announcements” section of the El Camino College Student Life Discord.

In order to have more accurate decision-making for El Camino College, campus-wide polls on topics like mask mandates should be sent out to all students and staff via email. El Camino has had campus-wide surveys sent in the past, the most recent one being about Career Education. 

Staff should also remind students about these decisions, as these can possibly affect their college experience for years to come. Surveys can also show up on the front page of websites like Canvas, as the current one about Career Education is still there today. 

While it’s likely not all students and staff will respond to polls and surveys, sending them out weeks in advance to all emails, having continuous reminders and posting them to social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will increase community interaction. 

Polling on campus-wide events need to focus more on getting a majority of voices heard and understood. El Camino College continues to advocate the best for students and faculty, but the recent handling of opinion searching shows a lack of effort in trying to understand what all individuals want out of campus life.

Editors Note: Name of “Associated Students Organization” was updated for accuracy on March 24 at 11:27 a.m.