The cancellation of the Winter Intersession and the addition of an â€œExtended Springâ€ term have caused a myriad of headaches, both for students planning to transfer in the fall, and college officials.
While the college was given numerous warnings beginning in early February that students may not be able to transfer, the college moved ahead with plans anyway.
â€œNot one single student got up and said â€˜I canâ€™t transfer,â€™â€ said President Mark Rocha during a news conference on March 26. Apparently, Rocha felt that that meant there were no problems.
To date, 200 students have gotten up to express issues they are now having transferring to other colleges. These students took Extended Spring classes because they believed they would be accepted for fall transfer. PCC erroneously believed that the four-year colleges and universities would be accepting these units.
However, when the Chancellorâ€™s Office notified the college that it was not in compliance with Title 5 and would lose money, things started changing.
So what did the administration know and when did they know it?
According to internal emails obtained by the Courier, the administration was aware of transfer issues students could encounter as early as Feb. 4.
One of the first red flags indicating that there may be problems with Extended Spring came via an email dated Feb. 8 and was addressed to college officials from the admissions counselor of Humboldt State University. â€œWe will NOT be accepting summer session 1 [extended spring] course work for requirements to be admissible. â€¦ Only up to spring semester course work will be accepted for admissions purposes,” the email said.
There was no shortage of students and college organizations raising more red flags and urging the administration and the board not to cancel Winter Intersession and replacing it with Extended Spring.
Voices throughout the campus, which were expressing these very concerns, were loud and clear, but the administration refused to listen.
One of these voices was student Sarah Belknap, undecided, in an interview with the Courier on Feb. 28. Belknap told of her personal attempt to tell the Board about possible consequences due to the calendar change. â€œI sat with information in my hands with my hand raised for over an hour [to tell them that] transfer would not be able to go in [for fall 2013]. This was a completely foreseeable problem,â€ Belknap said. â€œIt was not so much a mistake but willful negligence.â€
Another one of those voices was the Courier. An editorial published on March 21, months before Extended Spring even began said, â€œQuestions have arisen about these classes [extended spring] and whether they will be transferable for fall admission at CSU and UC campuses.â€ Like others, this voice was also ignored by the administration and college officials proceeded with extended spring anyway.
In addition, in an email dated Feb. 8, the administration was notified by the California Community Colleges Chancellorâ€™s Office that the California State University College System expressed concerns about admitting PCC students with extended spring courses.
â€œ[CSUCS] need to keep things on schedule and to treat all students exactly the same. To provide exceptions would make them vulnerable to lawsuits and student grievances,â€ the email said.
The email continued and said, â€œDo the best you can to make students aware of the situation. There may be some opportunity for students to appeal on an individual basis but there was nothing at the system level that can be done.â€
These internal emails do show that college officials were working feverishly with other colleges and universities to remedy this self-inflicted wound. This left the college with the incorrect impression that everything was fixed. But students still were left in the dark about any possible problems with Extended Spring courses.
College officials continued to sell the students a bill-of-goods that there were no problems with Extended Spring courses being used for fall transfers.
But a scathing email from the Chancellorâ€™s Office to college officials told them to admit their mistakes to students. The email dated June 19 instructs college officials what to do.
â€œClarify that the district had incorrectly acted to extend the spring term without first receiving approval from the CCCCO, as required under Title 5 Section 55720 [California Code of Regulations]. To correct this infraction, the district will rescind that action and instead offer the [extended spring] courses as part of the summer term,â€ the email said.
If college officials didnâ€™t know about this regulatory issue, why didnâ€™t they know?
We believe the entire student body should have been informed immediately and officially that there might be problems with Extended Spring. This would have given the students more information to make informed decisions about their education.
The reason why the administration felt the need to cancel Winter Intersession and replace it with Extended Spring has never been fully explained.
A statement released by the Board of Trustees on March 15 said: â€œThe Board has made each of those decisions centered on what it believes to be in the best interests of student success, improved student and faculty service and the Pasadena Area Community College District.â€
We believe itâ€™s unconscionable for students to be used as guinea pigs for educational experiments. Letâ€™s not forget that we are talking about studentsâ€™ education, futures and lives.
A public apology from the administration to the students and faculty would be welcome and much needed in order to put all this behind us.
College officials like to use the term â€œmoving forwardâ€ for a way to try and put scandals behind them. But, it would be impossible to move forward unless this administration first steps forward and owns-up to its colossal mistake and publicly apologize to the students, faculty and staff of PCC.