Small victories for students but battle continues

By Juliet Mendoza
Pulse Staff Reporter

Students hold protest signs during the Alamo Colleges District Board Meeting. Photo by Juliet Mendoza
Students hold protest signs during the Alamo Colleges District Board Meeting. Photo by Juliet Mendoza

Palo Alto College Student Leadership Coalition and Alamo Colleges faculty spoke loud and clear at the District Board Meeting on March 24, 2015, resulting in some small wins. Major concerns are still being resolved.

Thanks to the Coalition, the Math Lab is now open until 9 p.m. and is undergoing a trial period to measure if the appropriate staff is available for students’ needs and success. Also, a new Women’s Center is in the works, thanks to the Coalition.

The March 24 meeting got heated when students demanded the attention of the Chancellor Bruce H. Leslie.

Sophomore Kristie Tarin, Psychology major, said, “The chancellor was very rude when people were trying to talk to him. He was looking at his computer most of the time. People felt they had to shout to get his attention.”

Leslie said, “I was listening.”

Trustee Jacob Wong, a student, said, “Shouting makes people stop listening. It drives them away from working with the very people who are feeling that they need to be heard. It is effective sometimes, but that is when it is utilized with facts, not just claims.”

Dr. Mike Flores, PAC’s president, said, “If a student has a concern or an issue, we want to work with them, to address them. All faculty and staff take their responsibility seriously to support students.”

Hot button issues still remain. The Student Leadership Coalition continues to advocate against the removal of majors, for more full-time faculty and for the freedom to choose a textbook format based on student preference. Faculty seeks shared governance; clarification on replacing a Humanities course with EDUC 1300, a 7 Habits course; and understanding why Cosmetology was chosen over other vocational or academic programs.

Flores said, “We cannot duplicate programs that already exist in other Alamo Colleges.”

The president chose to bring the Oil and Gas program first. Cosmetology is the second program. The president looks for demand and employment in the field, along with credits that can transfer to a university, either immediately or later.

Dr. John Hernandez, professor of Philosophy, said he wants the B.9.1 Educational Philosophy to be honored, which states, “The Alamo Colleges will promote collaboration by achieving consensus on the measures of student success and by stressing that student success is everyone’s business.”

Hernandez said, “If student success is everybody’s business, we need to be part of the conversation and the process itself.”

Leslie said, “Eighty percent of students that come to the Alamo Colleges indicate that is their intention to transfer to a university and to achieve a bachelor’s degree. Less than 20 percent actually do.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts, 28.8 percent of the adult population ages 25 and over has a bachelor’s degree or higher. In Texas, 26.7 percent of those ages 25 and over have a bachelor’s degree or more. In Bexar, County, it’s 26.3 percent.

Leslie added the percentage of graduates continues to be flat and that we have to change the way we do things to get different results.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Tony Villanueva said, “Most students intend to transfer; however, many are not able to complete the bachelor’s degree for reasons beyond their control.”

Sophomore Thomas Seabers, Liberal Arts major, said, “People get tired of doing basics. They get turned off. You just want to focus on your field.”

Seabers will not be returning in the fall. “I want to pursue a different life. I want to travel and do research on homeless ministry,” he said.

In regard to implementing EDUC 1300, using Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as its framework, Leslie said, “Mayor Castro help me create a meeting with business leaders. The employers fully endorsed the program and suggested that if we would teach that to the students, they would put them in front of the line in terms of employment. They will interview them early because they have that set of skills.”

On the website, a quote from Leslie is featured: “The 7 Habits provide a framework for thinking independently and looking for synergies. I believe it will certainly help prepare students to be successful adults, no matter what they major in.”

Villanueva said, “Education is not a job. Some PAC students want to receive a higher education. Careers, generic degrees and licenses do not offer that.”

EDUC 1300, if implemented, means that students must take the course as part of the core curriculum. As a result, students who wanted to focus their Humanities courses on Mexican-American Studies can only take one of the two courses.

The soon-to-be-implemented e-book policy raises more concerns for PAC students. Many PAC students have limited technology resources after school hours, leaving computers and Internet out of reach.

PAC student Alexius Brooks said, “A book is always there.”

The chancellor wants faculty and students to come up with solutions to better the Alamo Colleges’ student success rate. More meetings are scheduled to address the faculty and students’ concerns.

To share your ideas and/or concerns with Palo Alto’s president, email him at or interact with him on Twitter @PACPresident.