A single mother, a military veteran, and a first-year student can be found seated inside the same classroom, engaging in the typical school conundrums: taking a copious amount of notes while listening to the professor’s rudimentary lectures. Some compose themselves in a more relaxed setting, closing their eyes and daydreaming as time slowly shifts by. Others discreetly use their phones, listening to the rhythmic pop tunes while head-bopping to the beat. In each classroom setting, new students enter and leave, following the roundabouts and sticking to their usual schedule.
Yet, students’ education can be easily deterred. Registration issues, miscommunication between the professors, commuting, and the ever-growing issue of finding parking are the typical sentiments verbalized by Pasadena City College (PCC) students on campus.
“Class registration can be an issue,” said Robert Palanca, an I.T student and foreign language tutor. “Sometimes, when I don’t register early, I lose the classes and I have to wait until next semester.”
As a new semester starts, the process of college can be daunting for some students. The building sections spanning from the North end of the campus quad to the Shatford library can appear foreign and confusing, likewise to a tourist exploring the many districts of downtown Los Angeles. Those who are lost can be typically found in the L-building, asking questions about each programs offered. Let alone, some don’t even know where or whom to ask questions.
“There’s a lot of resources here that students aren’t aware of,” said Palanca. “The tutoring centers offer everything: math, English, statistics, economics, foreign languages, and we have an ESL center. It’s all free, too.”
On the issue of publicizing PCC’s resources offered to students, Palanca commented about the lack of exposure towards the academic programs offered on campus. The message wasn’t simply conveyed to students.
“We try to contact the management and professors,” he added. “The professors don’t always inform their students.”
To solve this particular issue, Palanca suggested that the school should inform new and returning students about the many support programs, whenever a new semester starts.
“During registration, students should get more email about the resources offered,” he said. “That would definitely help students navigate through the process of college.”
Traveling from each building and receiving peer help is not a worrisome trek for first-year international student Lesly Mounggang. She receives free assistance from time to time at the Pathways center, due to being involved in the award-winning program.
What is not free for her, however, is receiving an education. For Mounggang and international students, they are unable to apply for scholarships and financial aid—let alone work on campus to pay for campus fees.
“Financial aid should be available for all students,” said Mounggang, a mathematics major. “Receiving scholarships and getting financial assistance would allow them to succeed in their classes.”
Between the corridors of each classroom sections contain students from different backgrounds. Be it the student’s ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or religion, their characteristics offer a contrasting complexion that make each individuals diverse.
A community that PCC boasts is a declarative stance of celebrating the diversity of the different cultures fostered on campus. Club Rush is the mecca of cultural diversity among the student population. From the Candela Salsa Club promoting a culture where salsa-inspired individuals can “cha-cha” away, to the Queer Alliance’s amalgamation of inclusion and self-identity within the LGBTQ+ community, each community offers a different story to tell. Yet one smaller community remains widely ignored, and their voices have been left unheard.
A story that lies untold was from Student Unlimited, an organization that “provides a supportive climate and helps promote disability awareness.” Their booth, placed in a narrow section of the Quad, was translucent among other booths that were more “visually attractive” and well-decorated. Seemingly hidden among other organizations, the representation of disabled students is widely acknowledged in the DSP&S community. Familiar faces of the program greeted the club members, while on-lookers passed by the club as it was hidden.
Philbert Tjong, VP of Student Unlimited and a student from the DSP&S program, recalled his experience in being part of the larger community at PCC. That community, he mentioned, included not only of students—but also professors.
“I have been in situations where the professors couldn’t grade my work easily—and that I needed to figure out other methods,” said Tjong. “Long story short, I ended up dropping the course.”
He later said how it wasn’t the school’s fault, but also mentioned that professors should be aware of each students’ method of learning despite their circumstances.
“I have to take a lot of math classes,” he continued. “I do math in a different way, so there’s a bit of a learning curve for the professor and myself.”
While professors are unable to provide an enriching learning experience for students with different learning conditions, another pivotal topic has been raised: the idea of how to effectively guide students toward safety in school shootings.
With endless mass school shootings in the U.S and debate on student safety, the topic of creating a safe environment for all students has been a reiteration of the mass crowd. What hasn’t been fully discussed is the inclusion of disabled students and their safety.
Student Unlimited plans to address this issue by publicizing posters that reflect unity and altruism, in which students look out for each other in dire situations. What could lead astray, as expressed by Tjong, is fear itself.
“My concern, in times of emergency and disasters, is that people panic,” he said. “The last people that would be thought of being rescued, unfortunately, are disabled students.”
Now, as each students walked by, the breeze of the air echoed a familiar sound. It wasn’t the sound of the wind. It was the sound of audible voices.