It was standing room only as the Cerritos College Board of Trustees assembled to hear student comments in support of adding classes to the upcoming summer session. More than 100 students packed the room and the crowd spilled out into the courtyard.
Many of the students attending wore red squares on their clothes in support of the newly formed Social Equality Club. Club President Jennifer Ovalle and co-founder Jimmy Valdez said the Club was on hand to represent students who could not be part of the political process.
Club member Earvin Chavez gave a comprehensive PowerPoint that outlined the reasons for adding classes. Not to leave the issue without a solution, the Club presentation included information from the Chancellor’s Office and the Adoptive Budget sighting numerous existing, funded sources that could be tapped to provide the necessary monies to pay instructors and cover other fees associated with the addition of classes.
At the heart of the plea for additional classes is the fact that students cannot get the Math 40, 60, 80, and English 52 and 100, all of which are required to graduate or transfer to another school. Student Catarina Morales has been at Cerritos for seven years, Matthew Gill has been here five years. Neither student can move on because they lack the required core classes. Year after year, they show up in classes that are closed, hoping to get a slot. Thus far, they have been unsuccessful.
Jimmy Valdez told the Board, “Being here changed my life.” Without the education he is getting, Valdez would be on a totally different track that includes being involved with gang activity. For him, being stuck at Cerritos is almost counter productive.
Jesse Pelayo pleaded for the addition of classes for a very personal reason. “My son is coming here. I don’t him to be restricted.”
Board Member John Paul Drayer suggested polling the students to see what classes they need most. “We survey students for food vendors. Why not summer school?”
When asked why there was a problem with a computer science student getting a required math class, Math Chair Scott O’Neil said, “There is a 50% failure rate… students have to repeat the classes.” This situation necessitates wait listing spring, summer and fall classes.
The last slide in the Social Equality Club presentation was the Cerritos College Mission Statement. “Not adding these classes,” said Chavez, “fails to support student success.”