Potential lab movement brings tension to meeting

By Gustavo Buenrostro

A lack of transparency and miscommunication about lab space was the focus of the meeting held on Wednesday in the G3 Administration building.

Department chairs and faculty from the E3 building were upset because they wanted to understand why the modern language and communication lab space was going to be moved.

The department chairs from the English, modern language and communications departments, as well as other faculty members from E3, came to the meeting to discuss the potential movement of the labs.

The email sent said “the potential location for new career and workforce center,” with the sign-in sheet saying this as well.

In the email, that was only sent to the modern language and English departments, Vice President of Career Development and Workforce Education Armida Ornelas said the modern language and English departments were invited because she wanted to talk with  stakeholders for the lab, but said the meeting was open to anyone.

Vice President Ornelas said she came to the meeting to discuss the guided pathways initiative, which is what’s potentially replacing the modern language in the lab.

Guided pathways is an initiative that helps students determine what they want to do in college.

The guided pathways flyer says it can clarify paths toward students’ end goals, help them choose, enter and stay on a pathway and ensure that they are learning.

The room became heated because the professors and faculty from E3 came to discuss the movement of the labs, which they were completely against.

Ornelas said that a decision hasn’t been made.

The reason she and the other VPs called the meeting was so they could discuss guided pathways. “We are not going to take away anyone’s space,” said Ornelas.

The professors and department chairs wanted clarification and assurance that their labs would not be taken away.

Ruth Blandon, chair of the English department, and Khetam Dahi, vice chair of the English department, said they did not want to compromise any of the students’ resources.

“We are here to defend the students and their access to free resources,” said Dahi.

The VPs denied that they would take the modern language space.

“It’s a communication problem. When we speak, whether administrator or faculty members, and speak out an idea, it’s not necessarily the decision. Sometimes when you speak, others take it as policy and it’s not quite policy,” said Arenas, VP of  Instructional services.

The faculty, however, believe it to be more than an idea. Eldy Dean, chair of modern languages, said she met with Ornelas and asked where the labs where going to be moved.

Ornelas said they would be moved to the fifth floor.

In the meeting, Ornelas said that Dean misunderstood her and that she was speaking about the potential of the lab being moved to the fifth floor.

During a dean’s meeting held Sept. 26, Ornelas and others discussed the potential modern language lab being moved.

Ornelas said that she would like to see it happen and would discuss it with modern language and ESL, according to Kerrin McMahan, dean of academic affairs.

The ELAC speech team made an official statement about the movement of the communication lab, saying, “Losing the lab space will be devastating for our continued success as ELAC’s Speech Team.”

The chairs in the English, communications and modern language departments all said they saw Information Technology measuring and preparing the labs to be moved.

However, IT says they did not go to any of the labs during the summer. Plant facilities also said they did not do any measuring during the summer.

Ornelas says that guided pathways is barely in its infancy. The program is different in every school and  has five years to be implemented  at ELAC, with this year being the first year of implementation.

She said the reason space is being looked at is because the roll out of guided pathways takes time.

The department chairs suggested  other places for the guided pathways center. The bungalows and the fourth floor of the Technology building were some of the places suggested.

The VPs were hoping that the meeting would create transparency moving forward with guided pathways.

“The meeting was meant to be a discussion about guided pathways and how we would meet that mandate,” said Arenas.

He did not guarantee that the space would not be used for guided pathways, but said that ideas are being discussed and a decision has not been made.

The professors and department chairs said they were not included in these ideas, and that they should be because it affects them.

Dean said that moving the modern language lab to a smaller area would not be viable since so many students use that lab.

Arenas agreed with Dean, saying that Dean made a strong argument as to why they would not use that space.

However, he still could not guarantee that the space would not be used.

Ornelas said that student success is the center of the initiative and that change is hard.

She said that moving forward, she hopes it can be a collaborative effort.


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