Peterson the next SGA president

Richard Peterson

Photo Credit: Gregory D. Cook

Richard Peterson was recently elected the new president of the Student Government Association.

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Gregory D. Cook, Photographer
March 28, 2012
Filed under News

The results are in, and the Student Government Association president for the 2012-2013 academic year is Richard Peterson, and one of his key concerns is making sure that the students of Bakersfield College have the most effective voice possible.

“I want to see more communication between the SGA and the students,” Peterson said. “That office door is open for students to come in if they have questions or concerns, but I don’t think they do that enough.”

To remedy that, Peterson plans to take to the campuses himself and find out just what is on the students’ minds.

“I thought it would be cool to get out there and take the office to the students,” he said. “If the students aren’t going to come in, we’ll have to go there to the students and ask them about what they like, or what they want changed and then take that back to the office and do something about it.”

He stresses the fact that the SGA can do its job only when the students make their wishes known.

“We’re only as good as the questions and concerns that come before us,” Peterson said. “We are there for the students. We are their voice. And we need to know what they’re happy about, or what we need to change or look into.”

Peterson, 51, is a computer studies major and has lived most of his life in Bakersfield. He attended Bakersfield High School, and worked in the community in retail management and the trucking industry before the economic downturn saw him laid off, and he returned to BC.

“Originally, I was just going to come back for a semester just to keep busy, keep my mind active while I looked for work,” he said. “But there just wasn’t anything out there, so here I am.”

Peterson’s interest in becoming SGA president began with him inquiring about becoming a senator.

“I wanted to be a voice for the students,” he said. “And when I when I went in to see about becoming a senator, I decided to go for it; go for president. I thought maybe I could do more for the students as president.”

Peterson realizes he is taking office at a time when the college is facing potentially devastating budget cuts and vows that the SGA will do everything within in its power to protect students.

“I understand that most of these cuts are coming directly from the state, and we just don’t have any control with that,” he said. “But there are little things that we can do to help the students.”

Peterson pointed out that programs such as the Renegade Pantry are vital to students and pledged the SGA’s continued support of such programs, as well as opposing a rumored parking price increase.

“It’s just a rumor at this point, but if it they do want to raise it. We’ll fight that for sure,” he said.

The office of president was the only SGA office in the election that was contested, with Peterson beating out Richard Heath and Jose Gurrola. The candidates for the other offices ran unopposed. Genise Wallace is the new vice-president and Toccara Bird is the new secretary.  Ivan Mendez will be the new activities liaison and Nick Acosta will be the new general counsel. Richard Heath, in addition to coming in second in the presidential campaign, was elected treasurer as a write-in candidate.

This year, 953 people took part in the voting, a slightly higher number than last year’s 941-voter turnout.

“I wish they would go back to the physical ballots,” said Tawntannisha Thompson, current SGA president. “We had much bigger turnouts back then.”

She attributes the overall low voter participation to students being unfamiliar with the Inside BC portal.

“Students just don’t know how to log on, or sometimes you say ‘Inside BC,’ and they just say, ‘What’s that?’”

The elections also contained a feedback poll which allowed voters to express their opinions of the SGA’s performance.

The majority of voters rated the job the SGA is doing as “average,” and rated the Renegade Pantry as the most valuable thing the SGA does. When asked what the least valuable activity the SGA sponsors, voters responded resoundingly with “homecoming.”

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