Businesses and TV shows aren’t the only things that close down and get cancelled because of a lack of patrons. At Las Positas College, classes get cancelled because of a lack of enrollment.
Just after the first week of the Spring 2013 term and before the last day to Add/Drop classes, two P.E. classes (Weight Training and Boot Camp), two Interior Design classes (Interior Design 52 and 56) and a Visual Communication (Visual Communication 65) class have been cancelled for not coming up with a large enough number of students to keep them afloat.
Despite the funding Proposition 30 has provided for additional classes, others are being cancelled because enrollment in those classes have not been ideal either due to requisites, low demand or late addition of classes. In lieu of the cancelled classes, the administration is able to use those units to offer other classes that are in more demand or more appropriate for the next semester.
“We get an allocation. The state says this is how much money you get to teach in an academic year,” Marilyn Flores, Dean of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences (ALSS), said. “We have to stay within those numbers or we don’t get our funding. We can offer it however we want within that term.”
The units to be funded for both Interior Design classes have now been converted to open an English 1A class that has a much higher demand in this semester. Flores attributes the low enrollment for both Interior Design classes to the pre-requisites and co-requisites needed to be eligible for the class. Both Interior Design classes are slated to be offered in the fall semester.
As for the Visual Communication class, it is slated to be offered in the coming summer term.
“V. Comm. faculty felt that that is a course that they will have a higher student number,” Flores said. “That (V. Comm) is more of an entry point gateway for that type of class that more students are attracted to.”
The cancelled Weight Training and Boot Camp classes’ units have not yet been converted or used but could potentially increase P.E. classes for the summer.
“It allows me to boost my summer offerings,” Dyan Miller, Dean of Behavioral Sciences, Business and Athletics, said. “It might not necessarily be those same classes. But I have the flexibility to choose which classes I make.”
Miller emphasized the importance of enrollment numbers. “My classes need to reach certain benchmarks so that the college is paid and the instructor is paid. You gotta be able to pay the instructor to teach the students. ”
While the administration worries about allocation of funds, the students and instructors receive the brunt of cancellation of their classes. Even classes that were offered on the brink of the spring semester, like the two P.E. classes, were not granted extension for enrollment.
“Students were very upset and disappointed,” Candace Brown, the Weight Training and Boot Camp instructor who has worked at LPC for 17 years, said. She had received e-mails from her Weight Training students. They expressed their dismay over the cancellation of their class after just three meetings.
“No, they weren’t happy. A lot of students don’t understand,” Miller observed after meeting the Weight Training class personally to explain the situation. “Our job as deans is to look at productivity of classes.”
Cancelling a class means some sacrifice from adjunct faculty.
“The loss of any class has a multi-faceted effect on any adjunct instructor–from loss of income, loss of retirement, loss of health insurance eligibility,” Brown said. “Receiving such late notice of cancellation does not allow an instructor to get employed at another college for the spring semester.”
“Adjunct faculty become a dispensable commodity for the Administration to meet budget requirement,” Brown added. “Tenured full-time faculty are more secured.”
Dropping the axe on classes was not easy for those in position.
“It’s always difficult to cancel classes,” Miller said. “ No one likes to cancel classes. It’s not the fun part of your job.”
“We don’t like doing it,” Flores said, “but we have to do it in order to meet the needs of the students as a whole and to go by our mission for the college.”
Brown thought differently.
“Our goals and purposes are different. The administration looks at the bottom line—the budget. We, as faculty, are more interested in teaching the students and helping them to become successful young individuals in our world,” Brown said.
“There’s always going to be students hurt,” Flores said about cancelling low-enrolled classes. “Whenever you cut a class, it’s going to hurt the student. We kind of have to step back and look at our institution as a whole.”
Whatever fate the classes face, LPC students, from the cancelled to the newly opened classes, have to deal with it.