A new hope for student affairs

'Wait, I didn’t know that was happening. How come nobody told us?’ seems to be the words uttered throughout campus lately. 

Sonoma State University students are out of the loop and uninformed about the happenings of their school. New president, Judy K. Sakaki, claims she’s here to change that. Coming from the University of California system, Sakaki held the position of vice president of student affairs.

 ‘Student affairs’ is a key quality missing from Sonoma State and all eyes are on her as she hopes to make changes. 

Not only in her first year as president, but the precedent she can set to be a more student-focused university. 

In an interview with the Press Democrat, Sakaki said, “My whole background is student affairs. I came here and the portfolio is not a student affairs portfolio. That’s very clear.” 

This rings true to students, as student complaints about issues on campus such as parking, campus safety at night and availability of classes have been dismissed as laziness or over exaggeration for the past several years. At the end of the day, this university needs to take a look at who it should be serving, and the answer should not be the out-of-town patrons of the Green Music Center. On Aug. 21, Sakaki spoke with faculty, staff and students in an annual convocation on the eve of first day of classes. 

Throughout her speech, she spoke frequently on the needs of students. Speaking to her audience of mostly faculty, she urged how they can make a difference in a student’s life. 

“Through our students, we have a chance to shape the future,” Sakaki said. “It doesn’t matter what position you are in or what your job description is, we are all here to help our students to be successful.” 

Over the last decade, Sonoma State has seenmany aesthetic changes; a beautiful new concert hall, luxury upperclassmen dorms, an extravagant student center complete with a pub and fine dining restaurant. 

But how does any of this help student success when there aren’t enough class sections open and professors are underpaid? The campus is beautiful, but that’s not the purpose of a university. Last semester, the school was in a frenzy when a large television screen was plastered to the side of the Recreation Center. 

To the students, it seemed bizarre the university wasn’t more eager to share its presence both before and after its installation. Although this is a relatively small issue concerning student affairs, it’s worth mentioning when thinking about what students want from their new president. 

It’s impossible to imagine being able to share concerns or suggestions to the president of your university, especially in the last decade at Sonoma State, but Sakaki has expressed a desire to change that.

 “I really do want to listen and learn. I want to hear your voice...I will also be developing other means of open access to me,” Sakaki said. “Instituting what I call ‘walk and talks’ where anyone can get on my calendar. This provides me with the time to get around campus, to listen and learn from many different folks.”

With an open mind and plenty to discuss, we hope our new president is ready to steer our university back into the right direction with the help of students and faculty alike.