April 2 – Norwalk, CA
The Cerritos College Board of Trustees meeting tonight was anything but dull. It was standing room only and the line extended out the door into the courtyard. Tonight’s Hot Topic: whether or not to add 100 extra classes to the Summer Semester.
One reason for the capacity crowd was the large number of Social Equality Club members and concerned students who turned out in support of adding extra classes to the upcoming schedule. Club President Jennifer Ovalle and co-founder Jimmy Valdez presented an impressive PowerPoint outlining the cost of added classes and the various funding resources the Board can utilize to overcome any lack of funds required to make the classes a reality.
Several board members stated that adding classes had already been done with little or no effect on the problem. Scott O’Neil, Chairman of the Mathematics Department, revealed that while he has capacity classes, the Department also has a 50% failure rate. That means students are required to take the class again or they will not matriculate to the next level.
Several current Cerritos College students recounted that they have been at the campus between three and seven years, but are unable to graduate because they cannot get the Math and English classes required to transfer to university. One girls said she shows up every semester, standing in the back of a capacity classroom only to be turned away – again. A former gang member named Johnny felt that coming to Cerritos College saved his life. For him, not being able get the required classes to complete his education means he cannot move on with his life to get further away from a deadly past.
Ian Adams, editor of the campus magazine Modern Corsair, came out to support the Social Equity Club and protest recent tuition increases. Adams believes the Board has raised the cost of tuition beyond affordability for most students. “If they (students) can get Financial Aid,” Ian said, “it still won’t cover the cost of tuition, books, fees, transportation and housing. They need that education to survive!”
Many students entering Cerritos College directly out of high school are unemployed. Add the ever increasing cost of transportation and housing to the normal costs of education and it becomes clear that higher education is now beyond the reach of most students. The current Catch 22 at Cerritos College is an unexpected nightmare for them.
While the Board listened politely, they seemed unprepared to deal effectively with an issue that continues to present itself. Apparently, nothing they heard was news. They even requested information from the Social Equity Club that had already been presented in previous meetings and documents. The Board’s resolution for tonight was to resolve to have additional information to present in two weeks at the Wednesday, April 16 meeting.