By Edgar Lopez
The current overcrowded situation at East Los Angeles College has placed a great deal of pressure on not only students, but on instructors as well.
While students only face a few instructors in order to add, instructors face countless students they must turn away.
“It’s sad,” said Jeffrey Hernandez, an ELAC political science instructor, who believes that a computer generated random drawing is the only fair way to decide who gets added.
He creates a list of students and numbers them then uses the generator to pick the lucky ones.
Although Hernandez dislikes having to use that method, he said, “You kind of have to.”
He said the Los Angeles Community College District has been complaining that ELAC has too many students.
There are definitely too many students, too many students enrolled, and too many students rejected.
The question of whether education is a privilege or a right comes up.
“I think it’s a right,” Hernandez said, “but it’s not up to me to decide.
“It’s up to society to decide.” He said that the current situation has led to many rights being taken away.
Daniel Judge, a mathematics instructor at ELAC, said because of state budget issues, these systems have turned education into a privilege rather than a right.
These budget cuts prevent access to a higher education for many.
In the past, three years ago, Hernandez said he would add all students who came on the first day.
Now, however, he said that he adds only to fill the absent spots from his roster and then five more.
Judge is along the same numbers.
“I would add as much as 30-40,” Judge said about his past teaching career.
During the first week of the spring 2011 semester he only added around 15 students per class.
Part of the reason why Judge said education has changed its role and he has become reluctant in adding is because the more students that are added, the less sections there will be in the upcoming semesters.
That means the student to teacher ratio would increase dramatically if instructors did add many students.
In addition, not only would the student to teacher ratio go up, but also the new buildings would not be used much.
Students would be forced to crowd into one room because there are far less sections.
That is a current problem with Hernandez as he said small classrooms prevent him from adding, as students are unable to fit even when standing.
Turning down students now could help save more sections for the future, but that is a complicated task to fulfill.
When asked what Judge thought about turning down students trying to add, he could not put it into words. He struggled to find any form of expression.
“I’m terribly divided,” said Judge, who attained his education through the CSU and UC system, “that I have to go against everything that I was raised on.
“It is the worst feeling ever because it goes against what I benefited myself.”
Hernandez was along the same line, but focused on the students more. The “most frustrating thing,” he said, is that when students drop the class within the beginning weeks, it prevents other serious students from having that spot.
A solution or part of a solution, Hernandez said, although tedious, was that ELAC must be granted access to the Los Angeles Community College District budget.
He said that ELAC is worth more than it is given.
Another goal, Judge and Hernandez said, was that students must become active politically.
Judge said that most college students are not aware of what goes on the political agenda.
He also said that students must recognize that the political battles are growing in seriousness and that students must engage in them in order to be represented.
One way would be for students to unionize in order to fight fees and budget cuts.
Most importantly, Judge and Hernandez said of the June LACCD elections, college students must vote.