Who do you know?
The new-students’ guide to important faces on campus
Associated Students president
Adam Dondro, last year’s student body executive vice president, won a somewhat contentious race for A.S. president largely on the basis of his experience.
A Democrat yet conservative with money, the 22-year-old Dondro in 2003-04 worked closely with A.S. career staff to trim the budget, including reducing his own officer’s stipend of about $3,800 a year.
Student leaders are quick to point out that the A.S. is a $24 million corporation, owning and operating the Bookstore, food services and the Bell Memorial Union building.
“It’s our role to make sure [students] understand the gravity of our responsibility,” said Dondro, who welcomes visitors and encourages both new and experienced students to get involved in campus workings.
Equally at ease in snazzy suits and worn shorts and T-shirts, Dondro is pleased with how he’s been able to maintain a positive relationship with Chico State administrators. He said he plans to continue the tradition of speaking out against state budget raids, huge fee increases and any campus or state policy that would hurt students. “I feel confident going to [university administration] and talking about any problem we have with them.”
A.S. vice president
As Dondro moves up a notch to A.S. president, a pattern student voters have followed for the last three elections, Thomas Whitcher takes over as executive V.P.
Prone to bursts of humor and good-natured teasing of fellow officers, Whitcher, 21, also knows how to put on a sober face when need be. “There’s a time and place for everything,” he explains.
His job is made simpler because Chico State’s student government has a better relationship with university administrators than other campuses. “We probably take it a little bit for granted on this campus because we have it so easy,” he said.
Whitcher, as A.S. commissioner of university affairs, spent much of the 2003-04 school year working on an academic-integrity (eduspeak for anti-cheating) policy. This year, the budget will be at the top of his to-do list.
He’ll chair the Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC), the main meeting where student leaders make policy decisions.
director, Psychological Counseling Center
When students get so stressed, anxious or depressed that they need professional help, one hopes they seek out the university’s counseling center.
It’s headed by Don Graham, who oversees a staff of seven licensed counselors, plus trained master’s-degree students.
“The primary purpose of the center is to try to help students to deal with any kind of personal and psychological obstacles that would get in the way of their academic success,” Graham said.
For better or for worse, the center, whose services are free, does a booming business, as does the adjacent Wellness Center.
Graham said the counselors work with students short-term on relationship problems, anxiety related to academic performance, addictions, eating disorders, crises such as a friend’s death, depression and other issues.
“The big two are depression and anxiety,” he said. Thankfully, Graham said, seeking help “is more socially acceptable these days.”
“If a student sees significant changes in their mood, if their sleep pattern is really disrupted or their eating habits change, or if they don’t take pleasure in the things they used to do,” he said, those are signs that life may be getting too overwhelming.
associate director of student activities
Rick Rees may be an older career guy, but he’s also easy-going and well-liked by students, which makes him a natural for the position of adviser to student clubs and organizations.
That the university pays his salary speaks to the institution’s belief in the value of extracurricular activities.
“We have a really great tradition here of student-initiated and -run programs,” he said. “Our style here is to encourage students to take charge of their out-of-classroom learning.”
That includes student government, fraternities and sororities and academic-, hobby- and even political-based clubs. There are 200 student organizations in total.
Rees, a 1974 Chico State grad who’s spent 24 years in the Student Activities Office, watches over how the student groups interact with the university and occasionally steps in when rules are broken.
“There’s a lot of opportunities to do things,” he said. “Why not take advantage of that? It rounds out the education that you get.”
director, Meriam Library
When Library Director Carolyn Dusenbury wants to get away from it all, she and her paperwork can be found in a comfy chair in front of a window overlooking the Rose Garden.
She said students should be sure not to overlook the library. “People should come in, take a look around and ask questions,” she said. “That’s what we get paid for.”
Even amid budget cuts, the library has managed to maintain a balance between print materials and newly available electronic information. But Dusenbury urges students to seek out reference librarians, “the original search engine.”
Besides organizing information, the library is also home to a computer lab, study rooms and a copy center. Research workshops and tours are offered regularly.
In transitioning to the 21st century, the library has also loosened up some of its policies. Only one floor (the third) is designated “quiet,” and light snacks and drinks (in closed containers) are allowed.
“The university library has gone from being a temple to information to more of an interactive living room space," Dusenbury said.