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Accrediting Commission Team to Evaluate Mission College PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 17 April 2014 05:49

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An evaluation team from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is expected to visit Los Angeles Mission College next week to determine whether the college has adequately addressed and improved in areas of concern.

Last year, the community college was given a “warning” status following a site visit in March. A coalition of students want the team to go beyond the report the administration has prepared, and speak directly with them.

A spokesman in the Mission College president’s office said President Monte Perez was meeting at the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) office in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 16, and another meeting with the district was scheduled for April 23.

LACCD spokesman Steve Springer said the accreditation team is scheduled to be on the campus beginning April 24. There were be a public hearing on April 28 at 1:30 p.m. in the Culinary Arts building but that hearing is to discuss new standards for accreditation not the situation at Mission College.

Mission College administrators have submittED a lengthy report for the accrediting team, addressing the fourteen problem areas cited that include student learning outcomes, the school’s low 6.4 percent transfer rates, lack of student involvement, and issues relating to the lack of collegiality [campus relationships].

The negative report handed down last year by the evaluating team acknowledged a history of “bullying” at Mission College that has been attributed to an unstable administration. There have been five presidents at Mission over a nine year period.

Students at the college have complained about an atmosphere of “administrative bullying” that has little regard for their concerns. They want to be heard when the evaluating team visits their campus to hear their concerns directly about deferred maintenance that include deplorable conditions in restrooms, threatening grafitti that isn't removed and the lack of basic needs like toilet paper. These conditions are indicative they believe are of a general complacency and disregard for students.

Over recent months, a coalition of students has protested the administration’s denial of tenure for popular theater professor Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez. There are several concerns they want addressed and at the top of their list is, to "be heard." They equate the school's poor transfer rates with poor counseling.

“It [Mission College] has not been what I expected. I came here with the thought that the school actually cared about not only us, the students, but also about itself. Needless to say I was wrong,” said Stephanie Arellano, a freshman.

“At first I didn’t pay too much attention to the stalls not having toilet paper, or the stains on the stairs in the Instructional Building. But as the semester went on the school closed down most of the bathrooms, so now I had to walk across the building and run to class if I needed to go.

“The bathrooms are dirty about fifty percent of the time with no toilet paper or seat covers," the student continued. "Trash is on the floor and on the sinks sometimes. The trash cans are full, some of the stalls don’t have locks because they are broken. Even the door into the bathroom is broken; the way they keep it open is a trash can in between the door.”

The students have taken pictures of the conditions hoping to show them to the accreditation team when they visit the campus.

Students also describe a big problem at the counseling office describing it as inefficient and disorganized.

“Personally, I have seen three different counselors to discuss transcripts, courses I need, majors, and the transferring process, and each and every time I experienced apathy, boredom, lack of knowledge of the subject, and a disinterest in helping the student directly from the professional hired to be and do the exact opposite,” said Nefertit Nava.

“Students often need plenty of guidance in navigating the academic sphere, and not having access to this supportive aid, makes one feel as though their success is of little importance to those working at the school,” he said.

"The Counseling Department at LAMC has absolutely no clue on how to help students transfer, and that is not on me, that is on LAMC,” echoed Samantha Jo Jaffray. “I made an appointment with a counselor and received the wrong information. They gave me a form of the classes I needed, and when I showed it to my younger brother who is about to transfer from nearby Glendale Community to CSUN, he showed me that it wasn't even the right form for the school I was looking to transfer to.”

Jaffray has also been among a core group of students who have protested the denial of tenure for Aviles-Rodriguez. Jaffray said she was told by a Mission College administrator that it would be “difficult for her to transfer, if she continues to protest on behalf of her teacher.”

Students complain about the lack of general classes needed for them to graduate, describing students sitting on the floor during the first days of class trying to compete for a few empty slots.

“At Mission it’s hard to make an appointment with the scarce school counselors. In my experience I first made my entire class schedules and educational goals with the transfer counselor,” said Lisette Asturiias. “Along with having no help, I can’t even take classes that are in my major because they keep getting dropped.”

The students said they hope the accrediting team will do more than attend administrative meetings and follow the prepared tour that school administrators have planned for them. They hope there will be an opportunity to speak with them.

Mission College administrators have designated a “Free Speech” area for students to hold protests, but the students complain that have been told they cannot “put a toe” outside of it without risk of being confronted by Sheriff's and threatened with suspension by the administration.

The students said that they are also very concerned with the strong presence of the Sheriff ’s Department on campus, which they describe as intimidating students from speaking freely.

"When student Ann Marie Catano was suspended, it was clearly a message sent for the rest of us." Jaffray said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 05:56

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