Students question president about core course

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Liberal arts freshman Armin Jeizan asks President Robert Zeigler and Dr. Robert Vela, vice president for academic and student success, why financial aid funds expire after a year. Photo by Daniel Carde

Liberal arts freshman Armin Jeizan asks President Robert Zeigler and Dr. Robert Vela, vice president for academic and student success, why financial aid funds expire after a year. Photo by Daniel Carde

Student calls out those who attended only for free pizza.

By Ansley Lewis

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

Questions on EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, and ebooks dominated an hour-and-a-half session called Pizza with the President Wednesday in Loftin Student Center.

President Robert Zeigler and Dr. Robert Vela, vice president for student and academic success, were available to answer questions and listen to concerns students had regarding ongoing issues.

More than 100 students stopped by the event, but only about 50 stayed to hear or voice questions to Zeigler or Vela.

Questions were asked regarding how future enrollment might be affected by the addition of EDUC 1300, which will replace a three-hour humanities in the core curriculum.

“I would be more inclined to look for a different college, especially if I was a student out of high school who was magna cum laude or anything like that,” computer science sophomore Jorge Garza said. “I feel like that would be the deciding factor. Is there any way for students to get around it?”

Zeigler responded, “The short answer is that there’s not really a way to get around it. Right now, there is a requirement for all incoming students to take the student development course, which is a non-credited course.”

“However, the EDUC 1300 course will be a three-hour credit course, and will transfer to a university,” Zeigler said.

In addition to Zeigler’s comments regarding student development courses, Vela said other colleges and universities are mandating incoming students also take courses geared toward student success.

“(Universities) have the same restraints and demands that we have. They need to graduate students that are successful,” Vela said. “Does everyone need it? Probably not, but it’s a very small percentage.

“The way this curriculum is designed is that you can take these principles with you wherever you go,” Vela said. “Through your academic journey. Through your career journey. These are things that you can apply to the multiple hats that you wear as an individual.”

Zeigler was quick to address a statement on teachers not wanting the EDUC 1300 course and said, “The statement that teachers don’t want the course is not necessarily true across the board. Some do, some don’t.

“The general consensus from department chairs and faculty leadership at SAC – or at least it was – is that the course is good. They don’t mind the course being required. They just don’t want it as part of the core.

“Now, not everyone may think that way, but, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the general consensus.”

Regarding proof of the success of the course Zeigler said, “Other colleges have been using a course like this, or a similar course, and have had success. We won’t know whether or not it works here unless we offer the course and people take it and we get a bigger sample.”

Vela added, “We have been participants of Achieving the Dream for over 10 years, and we’ve collected data for over 10 years.”

According the Alamo Colleges website, Achieving the Dream is a multi-year initiative funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education, which addresses the issue of low-income and minority students who attain degrees and certificates at lower rates than white and Asian students.

“Ten years of data shows that students who took this course were more successful in their gatekeeper courses and more successful to graduate. That’s our data – San Antonio College data,” Vela said.

Speech communication sophomore Jared “Max” Edman spoke about Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which will be part of the curriculum in the course.

“As a nontraditional student, I believe the “7 Habits” are definitely good for students because I see a lot of people half my age – I have a daughter in school and I’m in college right now – and I see the lackadaisical approach to these children.

“I think a lot of this is fear-mongering and panic. It’s people that want to protest for the sake of protesting and come here to eat free pizza and leave,” Edman said.
Edman pointed out only a certain amount of courses will have ebooks, and professors still have the opportunity to provide students with choices regarding material.

Zeigler agreed with Edman and said, “Right now, there are 17 courses that this ebook decision is impacting. Ultimately the goal is to make everything move to ebook, but that’s going to take a while.”

In addition, Zeigler said, “I do believe fear of change is provoking some of this. However, it is a failure on us as an institution that we need to do a better job of explaining what’s going on and informing all of you.”

Liberal arts freshman Roy Floyd brought up financial aid.

“I heard financial aid was going to be knocked up because they’re going to turn Alamo Colleges into more of a business,” Floyd said.

“I don’t know the rumor you heard about the Alamo Colleges becoming a business, but that’s not true,” Zeigler said. “Financial aid comes from several sources. It comes from the federal government, state government and scholarships.”

“Where you probably got the idea that Alamo Colleges is going to operate like a business is that state funding is being cut almost every year. We raise tuition. We raise taxes. We can’t keep raising tuition,” Zeigler said.

“We’re trying to do things to generate revenue, but not to the extent that it’s going to impact your financial aid,” Zeigler said.

Architecture sophomore Oscar Flores asked questions regarding campus computer labs and the hours they are open.

Flores said he does not have the option of making it to the computer labs before they close.

“I’m having a very difficult time accessing computer labs because they close at 5 p.m.,” Flores said. “I have a computer, but it doesn’t run the programs that I need to use, like AutoCAD. The only way I can do my homework is by coming to a computer lab here, and if they’re not open I can’t do my work.”

“Talk to faculty members in architecture. Come up with a plan,” Zeigler said. “Work with (Conrad) Krueger, dean of arts and sciences. If you’ve got any ideas, give us some bullet points and tell us your problems. We will try to work with them.”

Students will have another opportunity to speak with the president at an open forum, but no date has been set.

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