Pierce Pioneer

Pierce College Appoints New Student Government President

Jessica Edmonds presents first President’s report at the Student Government assembly.

Jessica Edmonds to be the Student Government president after the former president steps down.

Jessica Edmonds has been appointed Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s new Student Government president as of Feb. 11. This decision follows January 2020, after the former president, Charles “Chaz” Serna, unexpectedly stepped down.

While details of Serna’s unexpected resignation are not yet available outside of Student Government, the changes which this decision created has sparked a new path for Student Life. “With the team right now, they feel a little bit discouraged, and they definitely need that recharge,” Edmonds said.

Serna’s decision to step down came immediately, although Edmonds said there were office frustrations present leading up to it. “I don’t think it was just him,” Edmonds said. “But he’s in a role that carries a lot of the weight of the team’s feelings.”

Edmonds said Serna has since reached out to her and given his blessings for her new leadership role. “He felt strong that I would be president, which really helps me gain that confidence,” Edmonds said.

Jaein Cho, the former administrative senator, was ratified as the new Student Government vice president soon after Edmonds’ appointment. Edmonds said she is confident that Cho can lead the team alongside her.

Edmonds said her next steps are to redirect and recharge the team. “Making sure our team and our office has the best interests of students, and that’s expressed with our events and relationships with other departments on campus.”

Edmonds studies Psychology and Latin American Studies at Pierce, and plans to transfer to the University of Washington Tacoma and get involved in their student government or activities board. 

Edmonds was working on her biggest project, the MultiCultural Fair, when she got word of Serna’s resignation. Edmonds said the whole team has assisted her in the event. “Everyone has stepped up because we know we have a vacancy,” she said. “If we wanna keep going with our ideas, we have to kind of do things a little bit out of the job title.”

Coming into a role halfway through the year can be challenging, but Edmonds feels prepared to take this on, with previous leadership training and strong connections already made with faculty, staff and students.

Student Government President Steps Down

Charles “Chaz” Serna (right) passes out  food to Spencer Howell (left) at the Welcome Daze event.     David Dino-Slofer / Courtesy Photo .  

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s Student Government president Charles “Chaz” Serna has stepped down from his position as of Jan. 29. An announcement was led hours after the resignation by Jessica Edmonds, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s Student Government vice president. 

Edmonds said there were a number of things which may have led to this decision. However, whether or not Serna’s resignation was an abrupt choice or a long time in  the making is yet to be known.

There’s a lot of frustration in general with processes and planning on the campus as a whole,” Edmonds said.

With Serna’s absence, Edmonds may replace his position. “It definitely gives me some feedback and roadmap of where I want to lead the team,” she said. Edmonds said the next steps for Student Government is to come together and redirect. 

This story will continue to develop, as the Pioneer gathers more information about the resignation.

Chaz Serna: passionate about reform

Meet your new Fort Steilacoom Student Government President

Bigger than life with a radio voice, a gentle smile and a hearty, kind laugh – that’s what students experience when they meet new Student Body president Chaz Serna.

“This door opened up and I took it,” said Serna. “It’s very exciting.”

Serna views himself as a mediator between the activities board, the student government, and what they collectively do together.

“I see my world as finding ways to reach out to and connect with the student body and to interest them in building a community here at Pierce College,” said Serna. “My role is to facilitate those things and bring them about; to be the voice in the presence of the legislators and the Board of Trustees and to oversee the respective projects the senators have going on.”

His vision for Pierce College Fort Steilacoom starts with easing stress and beating down barriers to education.

“We’re trying to enhance the educational and health experience that people can have here because health starts in your mind,” said Serna. “Your body can really react to the things that are going on in your mind — stressors and stress levels – so we’re trying to ease that. We’re trying to reach out to our more at-risk population, people who are on the cusp of having issues of not being able to pursue their education. We’re all about trying to beat those barriers down and build bridges, build pathways, build roads, if need be, out of one place to another for an individual.”

His term for 2019-2020 started this summer with workshops, conferences, and joining Director of Student Life, Cameron Cox, and Student Life Program Coordinator, Allie Morrow, for training.

“Chaz ran his own nonprofit and has experience working with people, teams, and communities,” said Cox. “Those are unique skill sets that he’s bringing. Not every student body president in the past has had those specific life experiences.”

I will continue to listen, to see, to implore, to ask, to try to get students to engage, and to teach them that they can come to us with issues,”

— Chaz Serna, Student Body President

Cox went on to say how he believes Serna to be a very goal oriented man; passionate about his values and genuinely caring about making a difference. He cares about Pierce College and his fellow students.

Serna immediately went to work tackling three issues before fall quarter even began. One of the main issues is the Health Administration Center (HEC) fee which he hopes to eliminate.

“Another one of my larger issues is financial aid – the way it happens, the way it doesn’t happen, the loopholes,” said Serna. 

“Other colleges have up-to-date ways of dealing with and distributing funds.”

Serna is also trying to bring self-compacting, solar powered recycling trash cans to the campus, as a way to encourage recycling.

“The ones we have now, the birds get into them and spread trash everywhere, and nobody wants to clean it up,” said Serna. “These trash cans, they cannot get into. They hold five times the capacity of a normal trash can.”

Serna hopes to knock off these challenges left and right. “If they give me authority to do things, I’m going to use it,” he said. “It’s not about trying to leave my print or name on anything, I’m just trying to leave something that future student body generations are going to be able to appreciate and enjoy. What matters is the lasting legacy.”

Serna enjoys supporting each student government senator and their programs, and leading by servitude.

“I will continue to listen, to see, to implore, to ask, to try to get students to engage, and to teach them that they can come to us with issues,” said Serna. “Whatever it may be, if we ourselves can’t help you we’re going to direct you in some path where you can get help. We want to do as much as we can, to be the servants we were hired to be.”

His humble heart has roots in a very tough childhood and upbringing, during which he learned powerful lessons about people and life that he plans to use while at Pierce.

Serna did prison ministry and taught Sunday School for six years. He also started his own nonprofit organization, called CJS Urban Outreach Ministries that reached out to homeless children, to give back to the things he didn’t have when he was a kid.

“That’s what I sought to do, hence my major of clinical psychology,” said Serna. “I want to work in abnormal psychology with kids.”

In the meantime Serna has big plans for students at Pierce College this year, specifically to create a community.

“We don’t want sects of individuals here, and cliques of individuals here and there,” said Serna. “We want to show people: Have pride in where you go to school. Don’t just come, go to school, and then go about your business. Be part of this community. Serve in ways that you can. Give back.

“We want the student body to know they have a real voice. Student input won’t fall on deaf ears, fall through the cracks, or get caught in bureaucratic red tape. We want to create a vibrant, viable, healthy community that’s inclusive to all.”

Student Government hosts Q & A

State Representatives discuss textbooks, open education resources


On May 18 local state reps came to sit on a Q & A panel moderated by Terrell Engmann, Leg. Senator, and Zoe Sundberg, Student President.

Beginning Jan. 2018, students in Washington can view required textbooks and course materials during class registration. Local state legislation recently passed a law requiring community and technical colleges to indicate required materials in the online registration process.

            Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup, said she met with the student liaison at Pierce College, Puyallup, who asked her if it was possible to include the cost of textbooks with registration. Seeking a solution in the rising cost of materials that students encounter, Stambaugh then brought the idea to fellow Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, who sponsored the bill and brought it forward for a vote.

“I’m proud to say that the idea from a student at Pierce just became the law this past session” said Stambaugh.

House Bill 1375, passed on Feb. 14, 2017, will help students better budget their education and decrease the likeliness of students dropping out of college due to unexpected costs.

            Currently, students can navigate their way through a syllabus and locate a textbook or ISBN number and purchase materials ahead of time through a third party.

Others are not so lucky. As class materials can vary in cost from zero to more than $200, students who are unfamiliar with the registration process might end up with sticker shock when it comes the campus bookstore. As a result, students may end up dropping classes.

            As the new bill is implemented, students should expect to see links to the school’s bookstore website or other websites to price out the materials prior to registration. If open education resources are available, those will be indicated as well.

Classes that do not have an assigned instructor will not have a textbook noted during registration. However, once an instructor is assigned to the course, the required course materials must be updated promptly. The bill is meant to incentivize professors to utilize less expensive materials.

Engmann reminded the legislators how textbook costs have increased drastically over time, affecting students negatively.

“Students now feel a need to advocate for themselves to find alternatives that can serve as less of a burden,” he said.

Online resources have shown to be cheaper and more accessible but the adoption of these resources into curriculum seems to be a common point of confusion,” he said. 

Engmann, Sundberg, and vice president Jacob Smith, participated in this year’s Legislative Voice Academy where they brought forth a remedy to the solution.

“We came up with idea of employing a position at each institution that specializes in connecting students and faculty with open resources,” Engmann said.

Engmann addressed the panel in its stance on open education resources and awareness of current efforts in Olympia surrounding this issue?”

Stambaugh, a prime sponsor of Open Education Resource Legislation for the past three years said she is a fierce advocate of expanding open education resources. She said she has been communicating with Pierce College and other two- and four-year institutions to learn of their current open education resource options, how they are being implemented and where they can expand.

“The first two years, the model that I used was based off the University of Massachusetts Amherst that funded faculty grants for them to develop open education resource,” she said about the bill she sponsored.

The success was by doing a 10k investment over one year (4 quarters), of students utilizing those open education resource materials; they saved $70k dollars for students. That is a huge return on investment and that is the value that OER investment could have for students.”

As Stambaugh praised open resources, she said there were challenges during the model. “Let’s say one faculty member develops a math curriculum that isn’t necessarily expanded upon. Other faculty members don’t maybe understand the benefit of learning how to create their open education resources for a different class or different subject area.”

However, she said there is a benefit of having a campus liaison with and an institutional knowledge that faculty members can go to when they are trying to develop open resources.

“More legislators are gaining an understanding of the value. We could potentially make it work this year, if not maybe next year, when we have a supplemental budget,” Stambaugh said.

Food Pantry Opens On Campus; Open Food Source for Students in Need

Student Government unveils open food pantry for students and acts as steward


Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo

After a short presentation, Kate Hummel and Cheryl Batschi (executive assistant to the president) get ready to cut the ribbon to the new food pantry.

An open food pantry was unveiled Thursday, January 5, by the student body government. This pantry contains free and non-perishable food items intended for students and is located between the student life office and the performance lounge.

With student government acting as steward of this new program, the pantry serves a need for students who are dealing with food scarcity, students who have forgotten money on a particular day and for students who find themselves on campus after the cafeteria has closed.

“I am so happy about the pantry’s opening, this was a passion of mine, and was really a group effort by many members of the college,” said Kate Hummel, president of the student body government.

Currently, food items are donated by faculty, staff and students and are accepted in the Student Life office. Items are logged in, checked for expiration for safety and used to restock the pantry daily. “As this is our first quarter running this program, we are working out bumps in the road,” said Zoe Sundberg, legislative senator, “but we have gotten a lot of donations which is great.”

The student government is working on plans to post flyers in various buildings on campus, according to Sundberg, notifying students of the service.

For Rebecca Anderson, community engagement coordinator at the college, the need for an open food pantry made itself known to her just a few weeks after joining Pierce College. Anderson had placed food bins around the school intended to help the local food bank. While collecting bins she was approached by a student who asked if they could have some of the food items instead of going to the food bank to get it as they often did.

“That opened my eyes to the student needs here at the college and that it affected all types and ages,” said Anderson, “for me that was when the conversation began, roughly three years ago.”

The rush of clubs and ice cream

Clubs Rush starts off hot, with an Ice Cream Social to cool things off


Dominic Wilkerson/ Staff Photo

“It’s pretty cool that you can socialize,” Tyler Rosado, Pierce student, said. “It’s good to see people who are nervous are socializing.”

Jillian Withrow and the Raider Bird represent Cheerleading at Clubs Rush.
Dominic Wilkerson/ Staff Photo
Jillian Withrow and the Raider Bird represent Cheerleading at Clubs Rush.

On October 8 and 9 two events were featured on the Campus. One event, that spanned from Wed. to Thur. featured many clubs and had many fun things for students. There was a raffle held by Student Government that had various prizes like headphones, towels and sweatshirts. There was also activities, such as karaoke, which Christopher Johnston the Administrative Senator help set up. Christopher said “It was good; it promoted student engagement.”

Many clubs had booths set up, There were new clubs like the Turkish American Student Association and Business Club. There were also older clubs like the G.E.E.C. club, Cheerleading, and the International Club.

Along with this there was an Ice Cream Social on the October 8 where students got to hang out and eat ice cream. Melissa Stitt-Dastous, Entertainment and Recreations Coordinator, said “It’s about giving students the opportunity to enjoy ice cream and interact.”

Student Government was happy with the turnout as shown by Cameron Cox, the Director of Student Programs, he said “A lot of clubs were able to generate publicity and interest. It was well attended.”

Clubs 101 Workshop

Students are encouraged to start clubs by the Student Government

The Student life office recently did a Club 101 Workshop on September 25. This workshop was meant to show students, who wanted to make a club and didn’t know what to do, ways to go about it. The evening workshop was attended by a small group, while the afternoon meeting before was heavily attended.

Student Governments Antoine Wooten the (Associated Students of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom) ASPCFS Vice-President and Nataley Guajardo the ASPCFS President hosted this meeting. During this workshop they outlined the steps on how to get a club and what is needed to host an event. Club charters and handbooks were handed to everyone that attended encouraging them to make clubs and be active in the student community.

The main points they stressed, after the student has a club in mind, was to find an advisor and not a student advisor to sponsor the club. They also said to prepare and meet regularly.  They want student to communicate with Student Government, the members and with everyone else.

“Luckily, we all live in a day where you can just shoot at text to each other.” said Wooten. Another recommendation is get people interested and active in the club.

They said to to plan ahead and follow the steps and forms in the Club Handbook. This Handbook is available at the Student Life Office. They stated that it is important for paperwork should be filled out four weeks prior, especially if it is an event.

Cameron Cox, the Director of Student programs, shared past experiences on how college clubs helped him. “I was at a community college and just sit on this bench in between classes when I was on break. I would watch people walk by and eat my lunch and be a total loner, you know, and one day I was sick tired of watching people walk by that I didn’t know. I was just a face in the crowd. I was like ‘Man, I need to get to know people, get connected.’” said Cox.

From there Cox went to the bulletin board where clubs were listed. “That was like the beginning of me getting engaged and connected on the campus. From then on I had this great experience at that college.” Cox said.

For those seeking to join a club or start a club, there are lists of clubs held at the Student Life office.


Carving a path to success


Melissa Stitt-Dastous poses with the Raider Bird while encouraging students to support the Pride Alliance club

In the short few months of this quarter, Melissa Stitt-Dastous has been fast at work making a name for herself. The 17-year old Running Start student from Lakes High School began her recent rise to prominence by serving on the Students and Activities Budget Committee.

While on the committee, Stitt was able to see the direct impact her suggestions could have on campus operations, as well as on students. For that reason, she decided that a more organizational position would allow her to have an even greater and more positive impact.

In April, Student Leadership started accepting applicants for its vacant Student Relations Senator position. The new senator was to serve for the rest of spring quarter, and Stitt was presented with a perfect opportunity.

After applying, Stitt was promptly chosen for the position. She was also chosen to fill in for the vacant Clubs Senator position this quarter.

“All of the positive encouragement from everyone was really motivating. In high school I wasn’t accepted very much, I wasn’t really good at anything; I didn’t have any notable talents,” Stitt said. “But when I came to Pierce, they [Student Leadership] made me feel like I could be anything.”

The student relations senator is responsible, in part, for reaching out to students, preparing for, and managing several campus events. The tasks can be overwhelming, but Stitt maintains her resolve and adopts the necessary managerial skills to be an effective senator, “I’ve definitely learned to use a planner. Honestly, I don’t know where’d I’d be without it,” Stitt said.

Stitt has big plans for the future. “I want to be the CEO of a major corporation. I always thought there was something missing in me. But I love to come up with solutions; it’s my favorite thing to do. I want to be the hero of my own story,” Stitt said.

Although her run as senator will cease as the quarter comes to an end, Stitt fully intends to stay involved in student government, and has already applied to serve next year. “I won’t be leaving anytime soon,” Stitt said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Students interested in clubs or seeking information on upcoming events can contact Stitt at [email protected] or schedule an appointment during her office hours from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. She can also be found staring in the upcoming Ten-minute play festival.

Hot Topics with Student Government

Hot Topics with Student Government

There will be a Hot Topics town hall meeting with Student Government next Tuesday

Feb. 18 @ 12pm in the Fireside Lounge (CAS 4th Floor)

Student Government will be discussing their proposal to update the ASPCFS Constitution. Students are welcome to come and ask questions or share their thoughts on the new constitution draft. A draft of the proposed constitution, as well as the current one, are posted on the bulletin board across the hall from the Student Life Office.

managing work, school loads

Charliene Mcweeny
Staff Writer

In today’s perfect world school would be easy, homework would be optional, and everyone would get 100% on every quiz and exam. Although people dream of the day those possibilities could come to life, they probably won’t be surfacing anytime soon.

College is one of the most challenging times for many students. Freshmen walk in with googly eyes in awe of the campus. They soon find out that college isn’t anything that was relayed to them. It’s not about the parties and drinking.

It becomes another problem on a list of more problems. Between studying at every spare second, they are trying to hold a steady job, maybe even more than one, pay bills, pay tuition and books. Don’t forget about spending time with family either, that might cause a whole new set of issues.

When it comes to college your biggest job is the school work and many seem to forget that. Once you get to college the goal is to stay in it, so make the time to schedule around the work and keep important dates at easy reach. Once a balanced equilibrium is met then broaden the horizon.

Try and get involved with Student Government, clubs, maybe even the college newspaper. Just don’t overdo it. Make sure to also make a note that your employer knows what you’re taking on, it’s likely they’ll understand because they’ve been there before. Work out a plan that keeps your employer happy and your income somewhat healthy.

Many things that students tend to forget is how resourceful a college campus really is. If homework is the problem; check out the tutoring center. Jobs on campus open up frequently and can help keep the college fees and bills paid. This can make work and school 10 times easier.

For those students that are returning or are of older generations these ideas to help with the stress levels can still apply. After years of no school is easy, but coming back is the challenge. Having to relearn and be retaught is all a big load to stress over.

Keeping at it is the biggest thing to remember and don’t forget to ask LOTS of questions.

former student government president nicole ortega shares her resignation

To the student body:


On the front page of the last edition of The Pioneer there was a breaking news teaser that I said I was to undergo an impeachment hearing. However, on Wednesday May 1, I turned in my resignation letter feeling there was no other option.

I was the best president that I knew how to be and supported my students to the best of my ability. That part will never change. My promises to the students will not go away. I will still go to the theater performances, baseball games, and other Pierce College events.

My wish is that you will begin to support each other in the same way.

I need you to understand something. We all had our part to play in my departure. It was just as much my fault as it was student government’s. Please, do not shun them or think they are the bad guys. They are great people who are now going to accomplish great things.

Perhaps it was just that the leader I am was not the leader they needed me to be. A leader’s purpose is to inspire, to encourage others to dream. In that regard, I have done my job. The team in charge now has a great team and is fulfilling that dream. I hope we have inspired that dream in you, as well. The college’s motto of “Possibilies Realized” is nothing short of truth and in some ways, and understatement.

Not only do you have all those possibilities just waiting to be realized, but you have an awesome support structure to help you reach out and grab them.

My greatest wish is that people will know what happened and realize that it was the process, and not the people involved, that is to blame.

Please, get involved in anything you can. Find a cause that you can get behind and go for it. I do not just mean Student Government, as what happened will hopefully be rectified in future teams to make a more fair process; but with your life and your world.

You cannot make a difference if you stand still. I still stand by my favorite quote spoken by Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What changes do you wish to see? What are you doing to make it happen?

I have always been a leader and I always will be. Nothing can change that. You are all leaders too. Find your voice. Let your voice be heard.

You are all still welcome to stop me in the halls and say hello. I am honored to have once been called your president.


–Nicole Ortega

Leave a Comment