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Time well spent

Kason Clark

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When Cheyne Strawn started his junior year of high school at Tulare Union, he decided he wanted to run for school president. However, he did not run because he did not have the required minimum of a 2.0 G.P.A. He improved his grades and graduated high school with a 3.0 G.P.A. but regretted not being able to run for office.

“I learned from my mistakes in the past and was able to not have that repeat in the present,” Strawn said. “Now I’m able to be the president and I’ve done some great things.”

Strawn was born and raised in Tulare and graduated from Tulare Union in 2003. He then attended COS but eventually left. After his first stint at COS, he worked in retail and campaigned for Devon Mathis. He started taking classes at COS again in 2013 and returned full time in 2015. He is majoring in political science and hopes to transfer to UC Davis, UC Berkley or another college. After he gets his degree, he plans on remaining involved in politics of some sort.

Strawn first got involved in politics at the age of 16 when he campaigned for Devin Nunes. He enjoyed the experience and he met a lot of people. He worked on more campaigns and got more politically involved.

He is 32 years old and lives in Hanford. Strawn has a mother who lives in Visalia and his father passed away after a 9 month battle with cancer. His father was a veteran and Strawn keeps his father’s Purple Heart in his office.

Strawn is proud of several achievements in the first year as president. He and Student Senate worked with facilities on installing hydration stations on each campus, with several stations on the Visalia campus. While the stations will be costly, he wants students to have access to clean drinking water. He also believes the stations would reduce the bottle content on campus. While the stations have not been installed yet, he hopes that they will start being installed near the end of this semester.

During his time on Student Senate, COS has seen several changes because of Strawn’s and his peers’ efforts. The Student Senate donated money to create the student center at the Hanford campus and the student lounge at the bookstore on the Visalia campus. The Student Senate worked to get healthier food options on campus for students and they donated $10,000 to food services to renovate the courtyard which became The Grind, the new coffee shop.

“They’ve done a terrific job with the renovations,” Strawn said. “We’re just really excited with the direction that food services have taken that.”

Bill AB95 allowed community colleges to provide shower access for homeless students as long as they have a 2.0 G.P.A. Strawn went to the capital himself to argue for the bill, so the passing of this legislation made him happy.

COS president Stan Carrizosa has observed Strawn leading Student Senate meetings and serving as a student representative on District Governance Senate and other district events and he has been impressed by Strawn.

“In all cases I have observed him to [be] well-prepared,” Carrizosa said. “He speaks well and feels strongly about his responsibility to represent a student voice and perspective through his efforts.”

Carrizosa believes that Strawn’s efforts have produced positive changes in COS. He mentioned that Strawn requested technology such a mass text messages and mass emails which have been implemented. He also said Strawn has led efforts to make sure that interested students had access to information regarding to Student Support Services, DACA, club activities and District accreditation. He believes that Strawn overall worked hard to be a voice for students.

Student trustee Isabella O’Keefe believes that Strawn has made an impact in COS and has been a major factor in several changes at COS. She said that Strawn has been involved in accreditation, the master plan and the search for the new superintendent. O’Keefe also believes that Strawn has always kept students in mind when making his decisions.

“Cheyne has definitely made our student body a priority,” O’Keefe said. “He helps organize events for the students and communicates to our faculty on behalf of our students’ best interests.”

For the rest of his term as president, Strawn wants to lay the framework for what issues his successor should focus on. He wants a better recycling program on campus so that it goes through students, and Student Senate can focus money on other issues. He wanted to create a Dreamer resource center to provide help and opportunities for scholarships and funding for members of DACA. He also wants an LGBT resource center at COS and name one of the centers after a senator, A.R. Rhodes, who recently passed. However, red tape and lacking the necessary funds prevented that from happening during his term. He hopes that the construction of new buildings will make it easier

To his successor, Strawn recommends that he or she set a list of realistic goals that they can achieve during their term. He believes that if the next president tries to tackle too many issues, their job will be too difficult.

An aspect of COS that Strawn would like to improve on is the cooperation between the student body and administration.

“I think we talk, but we just don’t do it enough,” Strawn said. “I think we lose touch and lose sight of the real reason why COS is COS and that’s because of the students.”

He does not believe that there is a spirit of cooperation on the part of the students and he wants that to change.

However, Strawn still encourages students to run for offices in the Student Senate. He believes students do not know how important it is to be a decision maker for 15,000 people at COS. He believes students can make a positive impact on our campuses.

“A lot of the things that you see, that you enjoy…it’s all through Student Senate,” Strawn said. “So you can make a huge difference on this campus simply by being a part of that class.”

He mentioned that the Student Senate is involved in important aspects of COS. Members can be involved in participatory meetings, budget committees, district governance and Academic Senate. On budget committees, students get to decide the budgetary items for faculty. Students can make decisions on whether departments get supplies such as computers or beakers. Senators can also be a senator for a department and can bring issues from their departments to the Student Senate. Strawn said that the poor conditions of the coffee court were brought up by a senator.

The filing period to run for office is during April and the elections take place in May. He will endorse a presidential candidate but hopes there is more than one candidate so that he can listen to a variety of ideas.

When Strawn returned to COS in 2015, his poor G.P.A. prevented him from running for president. He decided to run for ambassador and won the election. During his term as ambassador, he took part in changes at COS pushed by the Student Senate. He also improved his G.P.A. by earning As and Bs in his other classes. As his term came to an end, he planned on running for trustee but people asked him to run for president. He thought about it and decided to run for the presidency, and won.

As Strawn’s term as president comes to an end, he will remember all the positive changes he took part of at COS.

“I’m [going to] look back and say to myself, ‘You know what, I did some great things on this campus,’” Strawn said.

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Time well spent