Class cancellations spark heated debate

City College Student Trustee Shanell Williams gestures while speaking at a rally on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at Conlan Hall. Protesters opposed class cancellations before the add/drop deadline. Photo by Santiago Mejia/The Guardsman

City College Student Trustee Shanell Williams gestures while speaking at a rally on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at Conlan Hall. Protesters opposed class cancellations before the add/drop deadline. Photo by Santiago Mejia/The Guardsman

By Samantha Dennis/The Guardsman

Faculty members and supporters gathered at Conlan Hall on the Ocean campus Jan. 28 with hopes to discuss issues regarding the recent cancellation of classes with school Chancellor Arthur Tyler.

Members of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 rolled out a signed petition that stretched nearly 80 feet long from the chancellor’s office to the lobby downstairs.

AFT 2121 President Alisa Messer said the petition had been signed by over 2,500 faculty and students opposing the cancellation of more than 100 classes this semester, which has caused many students to scramble around campus to find new classes to fill the void.

Faculty members are also feeling the hardship brought upon them due to the cancellation of classes.

City College Student Trustee Shanell Williams gestures while speaking at a rally on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at Conlan Hall. Protesters opposed class cancellations before the add/drop deadline. Photo by Santiago Mejia/The Guardsman

City College students, faculty and supporters rallied on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at Conlan Hall. Protesters opposed class cancellations occurring before the add/drop deadline. Photo by Santiago Mejia/The Guardsman

Instructor Mike Estrada is on the AFT 2121 executive board and the precinct representative in the Social Sciences department. He said some classes in the department were cut including a Political Science 1 course, which rarely happens because it is a general requirement class.

City College student Matt Lambert was notified that his photography class was among the classes cancelled and was left frustrated and wondering what to do. Fortunately, the same class was offered as an evening class so Lambert was able to switch into that section.

“I easily switched to the p.m. section as my schedule right now has that flexibility. No one else in my class seemed to be in the position to be able to take the evening section,” Lambert said.

The discussion with the chancellor was thought to be an open discussion but faculty and supporters were notified that the chancellor would only be talking to three people.

Lambert was told by Dean of the Office of Student Affairs and Wellness Samuel Santos, that he could not partake in the discussion because he was a student and students have a different procedure to go through to speak to the chancellor.

Messer was one of the three people who were allowed to sit down face-to-face with Tyler and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Susan Lamb to discuss the issues that the college is facing with enrollment.

“They admitted that mistakes are [sometimes] made and some classes may have been cancelled prematurely,” Messer said.

Messer also said that the chancellor and vice chancellor stated they would take a look at the decisions they’ve been making and try to make sure they hadn’t made any mistakes.

“It’s a poor choice to be canceling these classes and ejecting students at a time when we have a crisis of confidence and are asking students to return to and remain at City College,” Messer said. “We want students to know that the education they get here is excellent and that they should trust us to help them meet their educational goals.”

Messer also brought up the payment policy issue that may be contributing to low enrollment rates.

The new policy implemented this semester requires students to pay for classes up front or sign up for a payment plan that includes an initial deposit followed by monthly payments.

Messer said she feels it is important that everyone should work together to put pressure on the administration to better serve the college and community.

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