Election 2012: William Stewart Interview

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Photo by Amparo Mendoza

William Stewart, a professor of philosophy at San Diego City College, is running for seat No. 1 on the Southwestern College Governing Board. Dr. Jean Roesch currently holds the seat, but is not running for re-election.

Stewart said he is a California native who moved to San Diego to complete graduate work at UCSD. Afterwards he went on to work at City College where he has taught for 26 years. He lives in Bonita.

Stewart said he wants to help SWC and give back to the community.

“I was looking for some way to have an impact on the community in a positive way and where I could model it for my children,” said Stewart. “I’m very conscious with this idea that if I want my two kids to have the right priorities it is very important that my wife and I live the right priorities.”

Stewart has worked in the California Community College system since the age of 21, he said. It combines his interest in community service with his love of education.

“I’m not looking for Southwestern to give me something, I’m looking to give Southwestern something,” he said. “I’m looking to give my time and energy. I have no political ambition. That’s not my agenda here.”

A business man in real estate, Stewart said he has knowledge of budgets.

“I think I bring to the board a very student-centric perspective because the questions are: how are the students being served? Is our budget best focused on meeting the needs of our students?” said Stewart.

Stewart supports Proposition 30 because it will help maintain current levels of classes and student services.

“If Proposition 30 passes then we can look at expanding those services, that’s going to be very helpful,” he said. “If it doesn’t pass I think we’re really going to have to look at a line item review of the budget to see how this school is going to continue running at a lower funding while still not having our students take most the hits.”

Stewart said students have taken a disproportionate hit due to these cuts because an easy place to cut is funding for adjunct faculty, part-time jobs that pay students and non-contract staff.

“Basically, the best decisions you can make are sometimes not the easiest ones you can make,” he said. “So I will be looking at the line items which require harder decisions, but decisions that are going to protect the services for the students.”

Freedom of discourse is essential to higher education, Stewart said. He said he would not permit administration to restrict free speech or free press rights as the Chopra/Alioto administration did.

“Here we are, a collective of individuals, and the suggestion that we should restrict student discourse to me would be a frightening idea,” he said.

Stewart said he is impressed with SWC even with the devaluation of education that is currently occurring in California. He said the state must reinvest in education. During a visit to the main Chula Vista campus he pointed to some aging infrastructure.

“See that board?” he asked. “That board right there is about a $400 board. If we don’t paint it for three more years there will be dry rot and you’ll have to replace the whole board. We can spend $20 on a can of paint or pay $500 later to replace the whole thing. That’s generally speaking how the state has been running the budget. When I come to SWC it’s that kind of basic pragmatism that I’ll be bringing here.”

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