By Augustine Ugalde Jr.
In what one faculty member calls a discriminatory policy, the Los Angeles Community College District is taking the community out of community colleges with its priority registration policy.
The policy gives priority registration to LACCD students throughout the district with the greatest number of units earned no matter which school those units were earned.
This policy supercedes the practice of allowing individual district schools such as East Los Angeles College to establish its own priority registration policy.
According to Dr. Yasmin Delahoussaye, district vice-chancellor, the policy was put into effect during former Chancellor, Dr. Marshall Drummond’s regime as a way to centralize and facilitate student registration.
“This was Drummond’s policy,” said Delahoussaye. “His objective was to make it easier for students throughout the district to register for classes at any school within the district.”
“In the past, if a student from one district school wanted to register at another, he or she would have to physically go to that college to register.”
“Now they can register at any district college through the district website,” said Delahoussaye.
One of the byproducts created from the policy is that students who have attended a district school could be bumped by another student from a different district school that has completed more units.
That fact has some members of ELAC’s administration and faculty upset.
“I take this policy personally,” said Jeffrey Hernandez, ELAC academic senate vice-president and professor of political science.
“I’m affected because I live in this community. If my neighbors are having a difficult time registering for classes here then it affects me personally.”
“The policy also affects me as a faculty member and I am not the only member of the faculty who is upset with this,” said Hernandez.
According to Delahoussaye, the policy has not caused much inter-school transferring within the district schools citing that the numbers simply don’t add up to much.
“We are not talking thousands of students here,” said Delahoussaye. “Let’s not make more of this than there is.”
Hernandez has a differing viewpoint from that of the vice-chancellor.
“For those who would say that there simply aren’t that many students or schools that are being affected, I disagree,” said Hernandez.
“If even one member of our community is bumped from getting an education from someone outside of the community, then it is too many.”
“City (Los Angeles City College) and Trade (Trade Tech) are also experiencing the same situation,” said Hernandez.
Jeremy Allred, dean of admissions and records has a similar view.
“As far as I know, ELAC is the only school that disagrees with the policy,” said Allred.
“The district and other district schools are backing the policy. For instance not all other schools offer summer classes so their students come here and get better priority than our continuing students,” said Allred.
“Several other administrators here have voiced their concerns to the district about this policy,” said Allred.
“ELAC wants to serve its own community,” said Allred.
According to Dr. Ryan Cornner, ELAC associate dean of research, compiling data on how many students have taken registration priority over current ELAC students is difficult, at best.
“We simply do not have the infrastructure set-up to filter these types of numbers,” said Cornner. “It is difficult to say just how many students have been affected by this.
“One of the problems involved in compiling these statistics is that once a student begins taking classes here, they become ELAC students and are no longer considered from another district school,” said Cornner.
Hernandez feels that this policy is discriminatory on an additional level.
“It’s screwing-over lower income students who are dependent of public transportation,” said Hernandez.
“It is more difficult for a student who depends on public transportation to take advantage of this policy and enroll at another school because they don’t own a car.”
“For students who own their own cars, it is easier for them to make the trip to ELAC and take a spot from a member of our community,” said Hernandez.
According to Hernandez, each individual college should be able to manage their own enrollment based on the student population from the community.
“We cannot effectively develop a strategic plan because the plan is based on what we know about the demographics of our students,” said Hernandez.
“We cannot anticipate the influx of students from other colleges, which makes less able to serve our community.”
“I’m frustrated by the way this is being handled by the district. I wish the board of trustees would step in,” said Hernandez.