Students should be knowledgeable, student trustee says

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Problems exist with transfer degrees, but students are focusing on the wrong issues, he says.

By Bleah B. Patterson 

In the last month, the Student Leadership Coalition at Palo Alto College has been vocal about its discontent with district administration and the board of trustees.

The students have protested and had rallies on their campus. During the Oct. 28 regular board meeting, students from PAC and this college spoke during the citizens-to-be-heard segment of the meeting.

“There are still problems, we’re just focusing on the wrong ones,” student trustee Jacob Wong said of students and faculty who continue to protest transfer degrees.

In April, the President and Vice Chancellor Committee, or PVC, opted to remove traditional degrees that included major specifications in Associate of Arts and Associate of Science and instead only offer transfer degrees to students who enrolled beginning in fall 2014.

However, Wong said the problems students continue to protest aren’t problems anymore; they’re being solved.

During the Oct. 28 meeting, Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success, told trustees that the administration will make sure concentrations appear on printed diplomas.

The specialization will probably read “transfer degree” with the name of the major the student plans to follow to get a bachelors degree at a four-year university.

The only difference, Fabianke said, is that students would no longer be required to take certain classes in the 18 hours above the 42-hour core. Instead, students will meet with an adviser to decide based on the selected transfer university.

The classes required by the four-year university to transfer will then be added into a transfer degree plan.

District administrators hope this method will allow students to transfer with all of their classes instead of just a portion.

They are working with UTSA and Texas A&M–San Antonio closely to create a seamless transfer, Fabianke said.

She added that administrators have yet to make any progress with Texas State University.

Wong said, “The problems are constantly changing and evolving. Students need to turn their focus to the problems, because, if they notice, everything they’ve complained about has been fixed.”

Wong urged students not to get distracted and to stay informed as the transfer degrees progress.

“One issue is the AlamoAdvise system, allowing students to be paired up with an adviser and monitored, is not in place yet,” Wong said.

This means the students being affected now by the transfer degree change are left in “limbo,” trying to maneuver the system on their own, Wong said.

“(District) tends to have all of the policies planned out individually when they should be made broader, to see the big picture,” he said.

“If SACS(COC) didn’t give us an absolute direction, we have to self-report. We do what we think is best and prove to them that it’s best. We make sure our policies are right and we show them. They’ll take it from there.”

Wong said he is trying to figure out exactly why the district is pursuing this option if the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a regional accrediting agency, are not forcing their hand.

“If we backed off from majors altogether because it was too tough and we were afraid of the questions they would ask, that’s not acceptable,” Wong said.

“We shouldn’t lower the bar because it looked too hard.”

Wong said he is trying to do his research, constantly asking questions and hoping things become resolved. He encourages students to engage with their student governments and do the same.


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