Students Concerned About Removal of Majors at Alamo Colleges

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Palo Alto College students hold signs referencing Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Bruce Leslie at a protest against the removal of majors from their degrees.

Students are speaking out against a decision made by Alamo Colleges administrators to remove specific majors from degrees and transcripts, voicing concerns about not being properly included or notified of the change.

Essentially, students who started classes this fall will not graduate with a declared major or field of study listed on their Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees, diplomas, or transcripts.

According to a memo sent to faculty by Alamo Colleges Vice Chancellor Jo Carol Fabianke, the decision was made by the Alamo College presidents, vice chancellors, and vice presidents, as well as "in consultation" with the district's accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The administration argues that it will make it easier for students to transfer to four-year universities. In this Inside Higher Ed article, Fabianke said about 70 percent of Alamo Colleges students indicate they want to transfer.

"This decision ultimately provides students with greater academic flexibility as it allows them to better customize their course selection, develop relevant schedules, and maximize the number of credits they will be able to successfully transfer," Fabianke wrote in a memo to faculty dated September 19, 2014.

Students, however, call the decision an "alarming" one. Simon Sanchez, a sophomore at Palo Alto College and member of the Student Leadership Coalition, said students didn't formally find out about the decision until September 23, several weeks after the semester started. Faculty and Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees member Clint Kingsbery have also expressed concern about not being properly notified.

Sanchez and some of his fellow students met with Palo Alto College President Mike Flores last month and held a protest on campus Monday to voice their concerns. They worry about the "generic" degrees freshmen and students from here on out will get and how it might affect their chances at getting a job.

"It affects students in numerous ways" he said. "It'll make it harder for students to get a job and for their employer to see what field of study they focused on while at Alamo Colleges."

The Student Leadership Coalition plans to hold a larger meeting with students next week to inform them about the decision made by the administration, as well as attend the next Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees meeting in two weeks.

"We want more of a voice in these decisions that affect the students, that’s one of our goals for the future," he said. "That the district understand that the students need to know about these issues and students need to have a say about what’s going on at Alamo Colleges."

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