PCC trustee decision to cut winter classes holds up students hoping to transfer and finish
By Nick Smith 01/17/2013
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered at Pasadena City College campus last week to protest a decision made in August by the school’s Board of Trustees to eliminate this year’s Winter Intercession, a condensed semester that lets students advance their degrees between fall and spring. Opponents say the decision was made contrary to the school’s historically democratic decision-making process.
“… [D]ecisions on the academic calendar [were] made by an academic calendar committee,” says PCC student and protest organizer Sarah Belknap. “And on that committee, you had faculty, students and staff who could sort of bring concerns from all across campus to the table, come up with the best possible schedule and then move forward.” According to Belknap, the schedule and calendar approved by this committee were overturned by the board.
Over the past two years, in fact, the board and administrators have continuously excluded their constituents from the decision-making process, most recently with the imposition of the three-term calendar, which has affected students’ educational plans.
“At PCC, we had a system where we had a regular fall semester, a six-week winter intercession, a spring semester, and then we’d have an eight-week summer session,” said Belknap. “This lets students basically be full-time, year-round students and take a lower load during each individual semester.”
Psychology instructor Julie Kiotis said teachers were told at the last minute there would be no winter classes. “So the money that faculty were counting on to pay their own children’s tuition was no longer going to come in,” she added.
After the initial cancellation of the winter term, students organized a petition drive, gathering 2,700 signatures — about 10 percent of PCC’s student body — calling for the board to reverse its decision, to no avail.
Now, unable to take a winter physics course required for her to transfer on time, Belknap worries for her future.
“I’ve already been here for three years, when I was planning on being here for two. I’m 26. I’d like to get a bachelor’s degree before I’m 30. I’d like to enter the workforce. I’d like to be a productive member of society,” she said.