By Edward Mahurien / Managing Editor
In 1975, President Gerald Ford was entering his second year in office, a gallon of gasoline was 53 cents, the Vietnam War ended as Saigon fell to the communists and the Mini Grand Prix was first contested at LBCC.
However, after 38 years the final checkered flag apparently has been waved.Director of Student Life Anita Gibbins said she knew the decision she said was “made and agreed on by every member of Student Life” wouldn’t go over well with the students.The Office of Student Life decided to cancel the popular spring event. Lack of funding is not being used as the reason for the cancellation as the ASB has funded the event within its budget. Student Life says they don’t have the personnel to run the event.
“The staff are really stressed. They’re union employees and their contract says their hours should be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the truth is they work more,” Gibbins said. Considering teachers’ schedules and the race being largely a physical event that doesn’t promote leadership, Student Life decided something had to go, Gibbins said. Jeri Carter, who retired in 2007 after 20 years in charge of the PCC Student Life activities, strongly disagrees with Gibbins’ reasoning.
“How does it make sense that the MGP doesn’t create leadership skills? When you’re the captain of a race team you’ve got to get uniforms and organize practices on top of building a car. That teaches leadership. That’s what Student Life is all about,” Carter said. Carter, a long-time supporter of Student Life on the PCC, created the now defunct Mini-Mini Grand Prix exclusively at the PCC.
“You take a bunch of aviation, automotive, sheet metal and welding guys and get them all hyped up. At first we borrowed cars from the LAC and it really took off. The Mini-Mini Grand Prix exclusively included the PCC. The Board of Trustees and the president would come out and flag the races,” Carter said. The Mini-Mini Grand Prix is gone and those students and programs Carter speaks about are now gone as well. The annual LAC event drew hundreds of students, employees and community members. Participants, largely from the clubs on campus, spend countless hours building and modifying homemade push carts made especially for the event.
Contestants navigate their carts around a track lined with hay bales making several turns, and crashes, before crossing the finish line. In the past the event has included a Chili Cook-off, a classic car show and live bands as part of the festivities.
The Men of Aztlan have dominated the Mini Grand Prix in recent years and Diego Navarro, Student Senate representative for the club, sees the competition as an integral part of club recruitment. Responding to claims of lack of staffing, Navarro offered to ease the burden of the staff by enlisting more students in the organizing process. “I think if we got students and teachers to help organize it, we wouldn’t have a problem,”
“It’s embedded in the school’s tradition,” Navarro said. Last year’s coordinator and ASB Cabinet adviser Derek Oriee is also unhappy to see the event go away. With an increased schedule, Oriee was unable to coordinate the event this year.
“I’m a traditionalist so it’s hard for me to see any tradition go away. It helps keep the school together as far as Student Life is concerned,” said Oriee, who participated as a student. He knows not many students are aware of the cancellation, but he’s sure their reactions are coming. If Facebook is any indication the reaction will be strong. A post by the Viking to Facebook has drawn dozens of angry responses from students.