On December 3rd, the Associated Student Council (ASC) at Seattle Central hosted a student open forum via Zoom. It featured college president Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange; VP of Student Services, Dr. Yoshiko Harden; and the Dean of Student Development, Ricardo Leyva-Puebla. The event was hosted by Alex Roque, the Executive of Issues and Concerns for ASC.
Roque started off by welcoming everyone who attended the Zoom meeting before introducing the panelists on the forum. Then she went on to discuss the agenda which consisted of addressing the difficulty with contacting the financial aid office, supporting international students, COVID-19 updates and precautions on campus, and the transition to ctcLink in February.
Dr. Harden acknowledged the disruptions of the present state of the world and the effect it has had on the students’ education. She mentioned that Fall quarter tends to be busier than Winter quarter and it is especially hectic right now due to the pandemic. She reminded everyone that Seattle Central will offer a brief window of in-person, no-appointment assistance with financial aid, registration, and admissions for students who have not been able to resolve their issues via phone or email. Dr. Harden also clarified that the financial aid staff will review the FAFSA files by the deadline and will determine the eligibility status of everyone who filed them.
Next, Roque steered the discussion to how the college has continued to support international students. “It has been a difficult year for federal policy related to international student study”, Dr. Edwards Lange said. The college hopes that the proposed changes to the federal policy will not actually come to fruition. Dr. Edwards Lange emphasized that the college is lobbying against these changes that will hurt the students and doing everything they can to fight back against these policies.
David Roseberry, the director of international admissions and student services, continued by saying that the proposed change by Homeland Security is the elimination of duration of status for F and M students. He emphasized that it is not in effect as of now and that they are trying to flood Homeland Security with comments in an attempt to make things more challenging for them to move forward. “Hopefully, the new administration will not follow through with these proposed policies”, he said.
In regard to COVID-19 updates and precautions on campus, Dr. Edwards Lange stressed that there are protocols in place for cleaning on campus. Recently, there were two people from school who tested positive for COVID-19 and it is possible that some people in the area were exposed. It is crucial for everyone on campus to follow the guidelines and protocols that are in place to protect everyone.
Roque moved on to the fourth topic: the transition to ctcLink in February. CtcLink is the implementation of a single, centralized system of online functions to give students, faculty and staff anytime, anywhere access to a modern, efficient way of handling their college business. On February 22nd, the old system at Seattle Central will be shut down to make way for the new one. Dr. Edwards Lange explained that the college is doing the testing now and everyone is training to prepare for this transition. Students will obtain a new student ID that will stay with them to wherever they transfer. The new system will allow students to manage their personal information, register and pay for classes, view grades, apply for graduation, and many more. Dr. Edwards Lange mentioned the page on the school’s website that explained more about ctcLink for students. She emphasized that the change will be difficult but the new system will be able to provide better services for students. She asked for students to be patient and to check emails regularly for updates. She then reminded everyone that registration for Spring quarter will begin on the 3rd of March instead of in February due to this transition.
Finally, Roque opened the floor for a Q&A session in which the panelists answered questions about challenges faced with the financial aid office, general protocols on COVID-19, and the effect the new vaccine will have on the school. Roque wrapped up the forum by bidding everyone a good rest of the day.