PCC students continue fight to reinstate winter into academic calendar
By JIM E. WINBURN
Students at Pasadena City College held a public meeting on campus Thursday to discuss the new trimester calendar system, which is already causing problems for students wanting to transfer to the university level.
“A.S. took a position against the calendar for a multiple of reasons,” Simon Fraser, president of the Associated Students of PCC, said to an audience of nearly 45 students and faculty members. “We believed it was too rushed a decision at the time. We believe students really valued the winter intersession and wanted to keep it.”
According to an Aug. 15 online report by the Associated Students, the PCC Board of Trustees said that changing over to a new trimester system (that includes only a fall, spring and summer session) would save the college $1.55 million over a two-year period.
At its Aug. 29 meeting, the board approved the tentative 2012-13 Student Calendar, dropping the winter intersession and moving up the beginning of the spring semester to the beginning of January. The Spring 2013 semester began on Jan. 7, and will end on May 4.
The Associated Students protested the abrupt change to the academic calendar because it gives students far too little time to adjust their educational plans, especially for those who are planning to transfer.
As part of its resolution to advocate for a short-term winter intersession period, the ASPCC said the much-needed 6-week winter classes serve a purpose for “transferring, jump-starting students towards completion, and sometimes course repetition.” The short term winter intersession had previously begun in the second week of January and ended in February before the Spring Semester was due to begin.
Shifting the calendar around in this manner creates quite an upheaval in planning for students who wish to have all their classes (especially in terms of grades) transcripted and approved before transferring to a university in the fall.
The biggest issue raised at the town hall meeting was with the timing of a student’s transfer. Although all Summer One classes completed immediately before a student’s transfer are now transcripted as “spring” classes – solving one problem – it does not solve the issue of completing transcripts and grades in time for the fall transfer.
“What we have been told is if you take a class for the Summer One period, before Jun. 30, it will transcript as a spring class,” said Fraser, explaining that the University of California system will recognize the class as having been completed in the spring.
However, “Grading will have to be in at a certain time for them to transcript out,” Fraser said. “Faculty will be made aware of that, and it’s going to be on them to do it.”
But according to some students who spoke at the town hall, irreparable harm has already been suffered by many students wanting to transfer this fall but were given bad advice.
“As our student government, you have a responsibility to those students, who, once winter was cancelled, were not sure whether or not summer was going to transfer because of mixed messages and misinformation,” said a graduating student by the name of Sarah. “Those students didn’t apply based on their understanding and what they were told by counselors and teachers of the school, by the administration of the school – that they were not going to be able to transfer. So those students missed the boat.”
Noting that the Board of Trustees has had 6-8 months since changing the academic calendar to inform the student body on transfer issues, Fraser said it was time to hold their feet to the fire.
“What I will communicate to the administration is that in two weeks we would like to see something in writing from the UC and CSU systems that indicates they are A) aware of our calendar change, and B) are willing to accept Summer One classes for full 2013 transfers in writing,” said Fraser.
Krista Walter, Co-Chair of the PCC Calendar Committee, said her group has formally requested a reinstatement of the winter intersession for the next calendar year. “The Calendar Committee does not determine whether or not we have a winter or a summer, and the original calendar with winter, we worked really hard on it,” Walter said, adding, “And we were all really stunned to find it cancelled without any recourse.”
Dr. Eduardo A. Cairo, a history professor in Social Sciences, said the PCC Faculty Association supports the students one hundred percent, but that a consensus among students must be reached regarding the need for the winter intersession.
“There’s no point in fighting for an issue that the majority do not want. But if there was to be a poll by the Associated Students to determine whether or not the majority of the students on campus would like for winter to be reinstated, they will find the support of the faculty association.”
The ASPCC had previously noted it has received “overwhelming and near universal support for a winter intersession on campus” through their own surveys, opinion polls and public comments from town hall meetings.
Fraser told those in attendance at the town hall meeting that he would post any updates to the group’s progress on the Associated Students’ website at http://as.pasadena.edu. For more information on the PCC academic calendar, visit the college online at www.pasadena.edu.