Fall 20121 Convocation Speech

Karen Paniagua
President, Associated Students

Fall 2012 Speakers
August 20, 2012

Ruben ArmiƱana

Andrew Rogerson
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Margaret Purser
Chair of the Faculty

Karen Paniagua
Associated Students President

Marybeth Hull
Staff Representative to the Academic Senate

Associated Students President Karen Paniagua

Good morning everyone I am honored to get to be speaking here today.

I did not come here today to talk about the problems facing this university. Those have been well documented and felt heavily all across the campus. It is time to accept that many of those problems are not going away any time soon and none of them are going to solve themselves. I am not here today to tell you what you have or have not been doing is right or wrong. I am here as an average student who hasn't been in the middle of SSU decision making to tell you what students think, talk about, worry about and hope for. We as a university community need to come together and start talking about how this university is going to not just survive this tough time but succeed and thrive.

The Universities strategic plan runs out at the end of this school year and I propose that we challenge ourselves over the next decade to use the issues currently facing this university as an opportunity to change. Many of the challenges we are facing today are not going to change, or go away, any time soon. It is time we come to terms with that reality and move forward. We as a University need to look towards the future, and begin to make forward thinking, visionary decisions and stop simply reacting and trying to stay afloat. The students at Sonoma State need to see us, the leaders of the University , do more than simply react to the challenges that are thrown our way, we need to be proactive, to anticipate and to create a University and a community that gives our students the opportunities and the education they need to succeed in today's world.

The pace of progress in today's world is astounding, many of the facts, techniques and strategies I have learned over my past four years at Sonoma State are already out of date and many more will be completely obsolete by the time this year's freshman graduate, four or five years from now. __That is not to say the lessons and experiences we have had both inside the classroom and out have no value.__ However it does mean that we as a University need to keep up, it is essential that students are offered an education that prepares them for the global 21st century that awaits them. I by no means claim to have all of the answers to how we should go about creating this environment, but I have some, and I can promise you my fellow students have many more. We are excited to be a part of the planning of a new Sonoma State and to start laying the ground for what the future will look like.

So first we need to plan for the new reality that faces the CSU system and Sonoma state, but on top of that we need to fight to put higher education back on the priority list of our state and our legislature. First and foremost we must build community within ourselves. It is no secret that Students, Staff, Faculty and Administration have struggled to trust each other and work together at times over the past. However it is also not a secret that the real problem, and the true culprit creating all of these challenges we face today, does not have a seat in a class or attend the Academic Senate or the GMC Board of Advisors. The culprit isn't part of the Sonoma State community, hasn't prioritized the Sonoma State community and has left higher education underfunded and floundering. It is time that we as a Sonoma State community get on the same page, work together and fight for what we need. In the upcoming November election Prop 30 holds the future of the CSU system in the balance, none of us really want to consider what it will mean to SSU and the CSU if WE do not get this measure passed. Analyzing what may happen, and sending a couple of groups to the capital and hoping things all fall in place is no longer acceptable. We as a Seawolf community need to rise together and move the voting population of our state. The students will do their part, this is not going to be, register a couple of hundred people and put up some fliers. It is our goal that by the time the election rolls around there is no one in the Sonoma State family that doesn't understand the critical nature of this proposition. However that is not good enough we need your help, support and cooperation. We need to move the Rohnert Park area, the Cotati area; but that's not enough, let's move Sonoma County, let's move the North Bay and the entire State of California because it is essential that we put our differences aside step to the plate and make a unified push to put higher education back on the legislature's priority list.

Finally I would like to talk a little bit about the new direction AS is headed and how I think it can help our University moving forward. I am new to the Associated Students and student government this year, I am a normal everyday student, I haven't been in the middle of the campus politics for the last few years and neither have the students that make up this year's senate; having said that, we come to the table with a fresh perspective, with new ideas and with a profound sense of optimism. We have no choice but to rely upon our fellow students for answers and perspectives; we are also determined to turn student government into a collective student body effort. I wanted to become student body president because I truly believe we, the students, staff, faculty and administration, have the power and the potential to make Sonoma State better this year and for many years to come. Sonoma State is our home and it is time we put our best foot forward, work together and create a better more promising future for this University. Thank you.