Students finally meet college president after event rescheduled

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Business management freshman Bobbi Balfor listens to President Robert Vela as he answers her question about tuition increases at Pizza with the President Oct. 13 in the Fiesta Room. Students also complained about the efficiency and helpfulness of academic advisors.  Aly Miranda

Business management freshman Bobbi Balfor listens to President Robert Vela as he answers her question about tuition increases at Pizza with the President Oct. 13 in the Fiesta Room. Students also complained about the efficiency and helpfulness of academic advisors. Aly Miranda

Vela reacts to complaints about advising.

By Bismarck D. Andino

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Students expressed concerns about a change in the tuition structure and complaints about academic advisers at this college during Pizza With the President Oct. 13 in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student Center.

Although fewer than 20 students attended the meeting sponsored by the Student Government Association, the president told them to not be afraid of asking questions and speaking their minds.

“It’s important for us as administrators to understand what those issues are to address them, so that they are no longer issues for any other student that wishes to be here at SAC,” Vela said.

Dr. Lisa Alcorta, vice president of student success, reached out to students to persuade them to go see advisers.

“I want you to really touch base with them here on campus,” she said. “It is very important if you’re transferring.”

If students don’t know who their advisers are, they can find out by logging into ACES and clicking on My Page.

Anthony Bernal, mortuary science freshmen who travels from Hondo, asked Vela about assistance programs this college or the Alamo Colleges could put into effect to help out-of-district students.

“It’s one thing that I have to pay almost three times as much for my tuition, but then on top of that, I have gas, vehicle maintenance and everything that takes. I’m doing my best as an individual,” he said.

Vela said no such programs are available and suggested he take advantage of the VIA Metropolitan Transit bus system.

Out-of-district students pay higher tuition because they don’t pay property taxes in Bexar County that contribute to the Alamo Colleges, Vela said.

“You have to approach your city council … then we could bring like a satellite center or begin that way so that you can have access to that education,” he suggested.

In addition, Vela recommended students like Bernal to keep grades up and to contact Scholarship Coordinator Irene C. Fuentes to learn about the scholarships this college offers.

Vela explained the new tuition rate the district proposed. Vela said each credit hour would cost $86.

Business management freshman Bobbi Balfour argued that the new tuition rate would make full-time students pay more, making the community college no longer affordable.

“For me the price is already high. … I don’t get financial aid, and it’s now in my range of not affordable,” Balfour argued.

Vela reminded students that through the new structure, students who end up with 24 credit hours would get two free classes during the summer.

“Over time, If you’re a full-time student, as opposed to part-time, you will actually pay $1,000 less through this tuition structure,” Vela said.

Three students questioned the efficiency of personnel in advising. Alcorta reminded students that there are over 20,000 students attending this college for only 40 advisers.

Students said it is almost impossible to get past the receptionists to see advisers. Students said advisers are not going out of their way in answering their questions or providing information that would alleviate students’ frustration in making the transition into this college and getting a signed degree plan.

Vela described this behavior as unacceptable and said every student deserves to walk out of the advising office with a smile rather than with tears.

“Every student deserves to be treated like you got his or her undivided attention,” he said. “I have a daughter in college, and if she had to go through this, it would bother me.”

Vela invited students who have any complaints or feedback to go to SAC Cares on the college website to report people who are not delivering the service they expect, so that officials can correct it early before it affects other students.

“Regardless of your background, regardless of where you come from, you deserve the best, and you deserve excellent service at every single office.” Vela said.

To report any issues, concerns, or suggestions about this college visit http://www.alamo.edu/sac/SACCARES/.

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