Building campus community at Rosemead

Taylor A. Boomsma / Courier The second foor of the Pasadena City College Rosemead campus, taken on Monday May 1, 2017.

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The single building sitting on the corner of Rosemead Boulevard and Newby Avenue could easily be mistaken as any commercial building, like an apartment complex with a fence structured around it, but instead, it’s PCC Rosemead.

However, with almost four years in operation, the Rosemead site is growing slowly. The Rosemead campus’ first fall semester in 2013 lasted two months serving only 679 students. One year later, about 3,000 students enrolled, and campus enrollment has fluctuated since.

The quieter, smaller Rosemead campus holds a contrasting environment compared to the main campus. If students want to see a counselor, there’s a possibility that students can immediately receive walk-in appointments, unlike the long lines faced in the main campus’ L Building.

Students overwhelmed or distracted by the busy life at the main campus can even come study at Rosemead in their quiet atmosphere.

“This is the concept of building a community,” PCC Rosemead Director Raquel Torres-Retana said. “We are building a college community here on our site.”

Taylor A. Boomsma / Courier
PCC students studying in the lounge on the Rosemead campus on Monday May 1, 2017.

Taking on the role as director since 2015, Torres-Retana been developing the sense of community on this campus, while overseeing the site’s academic activities, among other things. So far, she’s created an active student center for student leisure and work.

Torres-Retana also used equity funds to provide campus microwaves for students to heat up their food since there’s no food services on the site. Along with a printer for student use at the campus lobby, a television was also provided for entertainment at the student center. All items were at the request of the students, which Torres-Retana was able to acquire.

Student programs such as Pathways have also extended to Rosemead because of Torres-Retana’s help, which has been around for two years. For students who want specific services through this program, they can get it at Rosemead instead of traveling to the main campus.

“See … that takes me going up to [assistant dean of Pathways] Brock Klein and saying, ‘hey, we should have a Pathways at Rosemead,’” Torres-Retana said. “We’re just planting the seed over here … just connecting the dots for our students.”

Since Rosemead is a new location, implementing programs to this campus is a slow process that includes meetings, making propositions through the proper channels, and administration approval. Because of this, services at the Rosemead campus are limited compared to the main campus. Exclusive features include non-credit and English as a Second Language courses. There’s also a Chinese translator, and a student worker that speaks Mandarin and Cantonese.

“[Rosemead] is one of Pasadena’s best kept secrets,” President of the newly-assembled Rosemead Club Christopher Theung said. “For example, the counseling is very personal, private… there’s no computer systems to deal with, no ‘sitting around’ kinda thing… I find myself utilizing that service a lot.”

As a working student from the area, Theung’s first experience with the PCC was taking courses at Rosemead. To him, Rosemead made such a big impact on him that he wanted to give back to the facility, so he founded the club, wanting to be Rosemead’s “catalyst.”

“I wanted to start the club to provide students a place to hang out, provide them opportunities for volunteering, socializing with other students …” Theung said. “That’s something I saw a lack of, so the club is a hub for that.”

The Rosemead Club is “not exactly a club,” according to Theung. It’s a three-person committee, but he’d love for more people as enthusiastic about Rosemead as they are to join in on the meetings and provide suggestions.

“One thing about [Rosemead] being a site is that there’s tension of feeling less important, or the campus being less emphasized than the main campus and getting less attention,” Theung said.

Being a student voice helps Theung promote the site and address issues that need to be taken care of at Rosemead. According to him, a lot of the students that attend Rosemead seek and get the help they need there because they can’t speak up for themselves to get assistance at main campus.

“We do have a lot of people here, but you’re not really aware of that,” Theung said. “They come on Fridays and Saturdays, and they’re ESL students that don’t get seen as much on the main campus.”

Taylor A. Boomsma / Courier
The Pasadena City College Rosemead campus on Monday May 1, 2017.

“Just like I am the administration for the site, I see Chris as the liaison for the student voice,” Torres-Retana added. “He could go to student government, and I can’t… he could access all of the student government pieces of this community.”

As he is the first, active student voice at Rosemead, Theung sees his actions as experimental. He’s trying a lot of different things and learning what his boundaries are so just in case he leaves one day, he want the path to be an easier one for them to step in and help out.

One common issue that Theung and Torres-Retana have about the site is that there’s no shuttle transportation being provided for Rosemead. According to Theung, he spoke to the Associated Students (AS) during Relaxation Week when they held their meeting at Rosemead, a rarity.

“Maybe if we just have one round a day, that’s enough for students who come here,” Theung said.

Every semester, Torres-Retana takes a survey with the students and finds that shuttle transportation has been the top need for them. The issue has been taken to the Board of Trustees.

“The administration is looking into it,” Torres-Retana said. “It has been brought forward and I know it’s been considered, and so where we’re at I’m not sure.”

Peter Benson, the transportation coordinator, looks at this as a parking mitigation issue, which he says is an issue Rosemead doesn’t have.

“There’s not a parking problem down there at Rosemead, so we’re not mitigating any type of parking problem,” Benson said.

According to Benson, if the shuttle was to run, it’ll be only be able to run once every hour. If the shuttle ran once an hour and the student misses it by a few minutes, they will have to wait for another hour or longer for another shuttle to come by and pick up 14 students to take back to campus.

“Most students have bus passes, and the UPASS has become more accessible now than it has before.” Benson said.

Outgoing AS President Julia Russo says that main issue preventing change in transportation services is the high cost. Transportation is a huge priority for students, but AS is trying to solve the transportation issue on the main campus before it could figure out how to solve it for Rosemead.

“That’s sort of been the main focus we’re looking at because we are serving 30,000 students,” Russo said. “We’re trying to look at how do we serve students at this campus, and then we need to figure out whether it’s a shuttle [situation], which is something we’ve looked at …  then we can put full attention on what Rosemead needs with their transportation situation.”

Although improvements don’t happen overnight, progress is slowly being made. For Rosemead, this is only the beginning. For Theung, they’re just taking “baby steps.”

“Right now, we’re just thinking small,” Theung said. “We’re just trying to get things done at a small level first.”

Taylor A. Boomsma / Courier
An empty classroom in the Pasadena City College Rosemead campus on Monday May 1, 2017.

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