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Student council fosters forum for personal input and understanding

Sarah Cummins

12/20/2001 12:00:00 AM

A Tribal collegiate group is committed to increasing the community's involvement with the educational institution.

A new Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College Student Council was recently elected. They include, President Kelly David, Vice President Ron Johansen, Secretary Kandy Ojeda, Treasurer David Sowmick and Sergeant at Arms Sandra Jackson.

"It's important, because it's an opportunity for students to have their voices heard on curriculum and other matters," stated Wilma Henry, administrative liaison for the student council. "The council brings students together for discussions, socializing and networking, sharing common experiences and being active in the community. There are also opportunities for the students to attend American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) meetings. The president acts as a liaison between the council and Board of Regents."

The student council already has many ideas on how to promote the Tribal College and increase student activity, according to David. One major goal is to revise the student handbook. The council also intends to conduct fund raisers in order to take culturally appropriate trips and to possibly even plan a powwow, according to Johansen.

The student group also discussed the possibility of visiting local schools in order to educate prospective students on what opportunities exist at the Tribal College. Another goal is to develop a working relationship with the North American Indian Student Organization, Central Michigan University's Native American student group.

"We are also planning social events to try to get students together more and to help keep the morale up," explained David.

Attendance is down at the college-possibly because of the Sept. 11 tragedies, according to some council members. Other students said they believe divisions in political views may influence who attends the Tribal College.

"Everyone should feel comfortable here at the college despite their political differences," stated Henry.

Although the Tribal College is not accredited, articulation agreements do exist with Bay Mills Community College, Central Michigan University, Ferris State University and Michigan State University. The Tribal College will also soon be a member of AIHEC, according to College President Jeffrey Hamley. Together, these accomplishments mean the college is continually getting closer to completing the accreditation process.

"There are only 34 Tribal Colleges in the country," explained Lisa Tiger, student faculty advisor. "When we get accredited, it will be 35. This is an elite honor. It is a privilege."

Anyone can attend the Tribal College-students do not have to be Native American. Saginaw Chippewa Tribal employees are encouraged to pursue educational interests at the college.

"Employees who are no longer on probation can take up to 10 hours of classes a week," stated Ojeda.

For more information, call (989) 775-4123.