By Tonia Ciancanelli / Editor in Chief
Despite more than two hours of pleas from students, teachers and community members opposing Assembly Bill 955, the Board of Trustees voted 4-0-0-1 Tuesday, Oct. 22, to support and implement the bill to more than quadruple fees for some Winter and Summer classes.
Trustee Roberto Uranga was not present to vote, while Student Trustee Andrea Donado cast an advisory vote in opposition of the bill. The fee-based, or extension intersession, will cost $90 per unit for Board of Governor fee waiver eligible students, $225 per unit for residents, and $265 for non-residents. Normal fees are $46 per unit. Trustee Tom Clark clarified mistaken beliefs that suggest the fee-based courses would set a precedent, saying, “LBCC does not set any fees for regular sessions, the state sets the fees.” Trustee and Long Beach mayoral candidate Doug Otto said he calls this the ‘boogey man argument.’ “If we do this, bad things may happen in the future.”
Seeing the college empty last Winter, Otto said, “was the thing that swayed me the most in my consideration.”
Jessica Bracho, a sociology major and president of the Civic Engagement Club, has been advocating against AB 955 and what she considers inequalities associated with the bill.
Bracho plans to encourage students to boycott the fee-based intersession, and said, “We want to demonstrate our opposition through action and encourage innovative legislation that doesn’t place the burden on the Board and students.” While they may not have been as vocal as students in opposition, many students support the bill. Deric Rich, 25, a registered nursing major, said, “The bill is a Band-Aid, a temporary fix, not a permanent solution. I would be willing to pay more to get on the road with my education and if students really want their education, they’ll find a way to pay, too.”
As the only college in the pilot program with plans to implement the fee-based courses this Winter, interim vice president Marilyn Brock said the college will offer four or five high-impacted extension courses beginning Jan. 6, with registration opening Dec. 9.
To alleviate confusion, regular Winter intersession will open Nov. 18 and Spring registration will open Dec. 2, both prior to extension registration. Also part of the pilot program is Pasadena City College, which has chosen to implement a trimester system, eliminating the need for Summer and Winter intersessions entirely. LBCC President Eloy Oakley said Oxnard College opted not to implement the bill because it “doesn’t feel there is a need for it in their community at this time.” Oakley clarified that College of the Canyons and Solano Community College did not meet their enrollment capacity requirements last Fall, but are discussing plans for extension courses next Winter.
The Crafton Hills College Board of Trustees will vote to implement or oppose the bill on Thursday, Nov. 14. In defense of the bill, Trustee Mark Bowen, usually the minority voice in 4-1 votes by the Board, said, “The truth is, students who can’t afford this option are no worse off than they were to begin with. If I were a state legislator, I would have the power to lower the fees to less than $46 per unit, but in my current position, I do not have that power.”