By Leonard Kelley / Staff Writer and Eliza de la Flor / Copy Editor
Many students, employees and community members expressed strong sentiments Thursday, Oct. 10, when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 955 into law, allowing Community Colleges to offer high-demand courses at the significantly increased charge of $250 per unit during Summer and Winter intersessions.
LBCC volunteered to participate in the 5-year pilot test program. In an official letter to the state Assembly announcing his decision, Brown said, “This seems like a reasonable experiment.”
Board of Trustees President Jeff Kellogg spoke about the law to a newswriting class in P111 on Tuesday, Oct. 15. While briefing students on what to expect when covering a trustees’ meeting, Kellogg was asked for his assessment of the board’s relationship with the student body. Kellogg mentioned the bill in his response, but said, “I have no idea what the student body thinks about AB 955.”
Groups opposed to the bill include the LBCC Political Action Coalition, comprised of teachers, counselors, librarians and staff. In a press release reacting to Brown’s decision, Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, said, “This measure reverses the underlying philosophy of California Community Colleges, which is equitable opportunity for all.”
Jennifer Heron, 24, a communications major, said, “I am keeping up on the bill and I’m upset that no one is listening to the underprivileged students.”
LBCC President Eloy Oakley lobbied to pass AB 955 and posted a message on the college’s website urging people to contact Brown and provided information on how to do so.
Executive Vice President of College Advancement and Economic Development Lou Anne Bynum said, “This bill is not harmful to students. New students will rearrange their schedule during the two semesters that the class price is in their reach. AB 955 opens the pathway for students not to be lingering around for three to four years to transfer from a 2-year Community College.”
Leslie Agis, 21, a journalism major, said, “I like the idea of being able to advance faster in my career, especially with how impacted classes can get. But paying $250 is ridiculous. It offsets the opportunity for many.”
The controversial new law has drawn the ire of LBCC students and the national attention of news organizations such as Al Jazeera America.
Al Jazeera America sent a camera crew to the LAC on Wednesday Oct. 16 to interview students about the change.
LBCC was selected by the news organization because of the six schools eligible for the pilot program, the college was the only one willing to quickly implement the new program.
According to the bill, schools can offer extension courses that may only be offered in the Summer and Winter sessions.