Sonoma State University student leaders upset over consolidation plans

  • A new student center is in the process of being built, Friday March 2, 2012 at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

Sonoma State University student leaders grilled an administrator Friday about why they were not consulted about a plan to consolidate management of SSU's Recreation Center and its soon-to-open Student Center, redefine employees' jobs and eliminate some longtime recreation programs.

"Why isn't it until now that students are being brought in to the process," Karen Paniagua, president of Associated Students, the university's student government body, asked Neil Markley, SSU's director of entrepreneurial activities.

She and others said students will have little more than a week, during which they have final exams, to comment on and shape the plan, which administrators want to implement starting in July. The school year ends May 3.

"I'm disappointed, seeing as these are student programs funded primarily by students," said Anthony Gallino, the Associated Students executive vice president.

"I apologize," said Markley, referring primarily to the leak last week of news about the plan, which provoked concerns including that students could possibly lose their campus jobs.

Recreation Center staff had been ordered not to discuss the proposed changes.

But Markley defended the planning process, which student representatives learned of after it had been underway a year and a half.

Because changes to people's jobs were being discussed, said Markley, it was more appropriate for the talks to take place at the management level.

"There are many ways to do it; that's the way I chose to do it," he said.

The planning process was slowed, he said, by uncertainty over the prospects of budget cuts that in the end were averted by a November statewide ballot initiative, Proposition 30.

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