Parking continues to be a main concern for students.
By Lionel Ramos and James Russell
Students will have to find alternative places to park beginning in January when Lots, 21, 22 and 29 are closed for the construction of a third parking garage, President Robert Vela said in an interview after Potbelly with the President Nov. 1.
Vela addressed concerns of students and faculty during the event sponsored by the Student Government Association.
About 40 students attended the event in the nursing and allied health complex, which offered free sandwiches from Potbelly restaurant.
Topics students asked about included parking, student advising, international work-study and course evaluations.
The most prominent issue brought to the president’s attention was the lack of parking for students, veterans and handicapped individuals.
Public administration sophomore Laura Salazar-Brown, a veteran, voiced her concerns regarding parking in the Tobin Lofts student garage.
“I’ll make this comment from the perspective of someone who’s already in leadership,” Salazar-Brown said. “I spent 31 years in the Marine Corps and I was given my parking spot, so then you become a student, and then you don’t have a parking spot anymore.”
She pointed out the parking spaces reserved for students living in Tobin Lofts are usually vacant in the mornings, but she still has to struggle to find parking because she is not allowed to park there and handicap spaces are not available.
“I have a handicap placard, but there’s never any handicap parking, so then you got to go in that tiered parking … the spaces for the Tobin Lofts students; they’re all empty.
“And that’s bothersome that you’ve got to drive all the way up to the fourth and fifth floors, and then the elevators are broken, and then you’ve got to climb down the five flights of steps. And when you’re a veteran that’s got all kinds of issues going on, it gets frustrating,” she said.
Vela, in response, provided some context as to why the parking situation throughout the campus is so hard to manage.
“We are a part of a bigger district,” he said, “The issue with parking is that we’re (employees) out and about not just here at SAC. We’re out and about all over the city.”
“That’s just the nature of working for a big system … there has always been an issue with parking at SAC, always, because we’re large, were urban, everyone wants to park here, even our neighbors at times.”
He brought up the third garage expected to be completed in spring of 2020 in place of the tennis courts and the surface parking south of Scobee Education Center.
“We’re going to put up a five-story garage, so that will be open, which we’ve never had parking on that other end,” he said.
“We’re going to get more parking … I hear you loud and clear. It’s just these things take a little time.”
Brandon Colon, computer engineering sophomore, raised a concern about the issue of advisers not being helpful to students in finding out what transfer plans are best for them.
“I don’t find a lot of help from my adviser,” Colon said. “It’s mostly me doing all the checking.”
He said he is not the only one facing this issue.
“That’s something other students can agree on, that when we go to our advisers, sometimes we know more than them about what’s actually going on,” he said.
Vela recommended he schedule an appointment with his adviser anyway and ask for help.
He also explained the fact that being an advisor is incredibly complex because of how many different colleges students want to transfer to.
Colon said Vela told him that someone would contact him about his situation.
On Nov. 6, however, Colon wrote in an email that he has not been contacted.
“President Vela said someone was going to reach out to me, and, well, I am still waiting for my help sadly,” he wrote. “I feel as if the college is missing the connection from the staff to the students, and I am just really disappointed.”
International student study has become a growing issue.
Some international students brought the topic to Vela’s attention and spoke about how the F-1 visa work restrictions affect them and how they can work around it.
Computer programming sophomore Okhai Omotuebe said he is trying to pay for college but is not able to work because of the F-1 policy.
F-1 policy restricts outside employment for international students.
Treasurer Mario Lopez of the Student Government Association, another international student, answered Omotuebe’s question with advice on how Omotuebe can work around the F-1 policy.
“In your first, semester you can’t work, but your second semester, you can apply to work on campus,” he said.
“There are requirements and specifications for that. You can go to foreign students Coordinator Patrice Ballard for additional help as well,” he said, “After your first year, you can work outside as long as it’s related to your major.”
Students were not the only ones to voice their concerns.
Asslan Khaligh, professor of political science, said course evaluations need to be available longer because students don’t get a chance to complete them.
Each semester students are asked to submit course evaluations before final exams begin.
“As I teach my students, I learn from them and try to improve upon that and how they critique that is important,” Khaligh said.
In response to his question, Dr. Jothany Blackwood, vice president of academic success, said, “The evaluations are on a systemwide schedule that works for a majority of courses, not all courses,” she said.
“SAC can’t extend evaluation deadlines for SAC courses, unfortunately, as they are on the system.”