Aso’s College Hour ruins an otherwise excellent new compressed calendar

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Cartoon by Michelle Phillips

Cartoon by Michelle Phillips

Like most students, an overwhelming majority of The Sun’s Editorial Board loved the idea of the new 16-week compressed calendar. Two fewer weeks of class in exchange for an extra five or 10 minutes per class period was a trade on par with the classic elementary school swap – half of our sandwich for Southwestern College’s chocolate chip cookies.
Then we took a bite and discovered the cookies were sugar free.
We thought we were getting a treat, but college administrators and the ASO took our dreams of a longer summer and crushed them with a day-wrecking College Hour, poorly-timed classes and a schedule that has left a bad taste in our mouths.
Admittedly, some of this was unavoidable. SWC was compressing the calendar, not shortening it, and was open about lengthening classes and increasing the number of Friday and Saturday classes to compensate. In fact, Saturday classes should be welcomed by students that work full-time.
In theory, the class blocks should increase scheduling flexibility and prevent overlap between classes.
Theory, however, does not always translate to the real world. College Hour has given students scheduling options stiffer than SWC’s cafeteria pizza.
Former ASO President Laura Jessica del Castillo balked at an early draft of the compressed calendar that would have pushed College Hour to a more reasonable 2:20 p.m. time slot, so last spring she led a contingent of ASO executives to the compressed calendar committee. Her show of force sparked a sudden change in policy at the eleventh hour – College Hour will now replace the wildly popular 11:45 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. class block on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Classes will no longer be available at that time so students that would have normally taken a class at 11:45 a.m. must now wait until 1:20 p.m. and a Tuesday/Thursday three-unit class will not end until 2:45 p.m.
Students will instantly regret making that their last class of the day if they try to drive home – there are more than two dozen elementary, middle and high schools within a three-mile radius SWC and all of them get out between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. – and they can forget making it to their 3 p.m. shift at work on time.
Students could compensate for their limited midday options by signing up for one of the new 7 a.m. classes, but this an unrealistic solution for those avoiding the 1:20 p.m. class so they can work. An eight-hour shift that starts at 3 p.m. does not end until 11 p.m. and would leave just another eight hours to get home from work, do homework, sleep, wake up and get ready for class. Early 8 a.m. classes are unpopular as it is, 7 a.m. classes are just asking for trouble.
College Hour is supposed to be an opportunity for campus clubs to raise money, but currently few students attend. It was moved up behind the misguided logic that a monopoly on campus activity at noon will increase attendance, however, students with hour-long breaks are more likely to leave campus than stick around for the weekly festivities. Lolita’s Taco Shop, Jack-in-the-Box and In-N-Out will be the primary beneficiaries of the classless 1 hour, 25 minute block, not SWC’s clubs.
College Hour’s early time slot forced the college to create more classes during the hours SWC normally turns into a Scooby-Doo ghost town. We might even need those meddling kids to figure out who benefits from this schedule.
Students that have the flexibility to take these late classes will face an additional problem – start times for night classes have been pushed back from the current 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and some will not start until as late as 8:20 p.m. Once per week, three-hour night classes will now end at 9:55 p.m., nine minutes after MTS route 709, the last bus of the night, leaves campus at 9:46 p.m.
The handful of students that sign up for the 8:20 p.m. three-unit, twice per week classes will have just one minute to sprint across campus to catch the bus. We hope college officials can negotiate a deal with MTS to extend the bus schedules. Otherwise, enrollment in these classes will resemble College Hour attendance.
SWC’s calendar committee has been overwhelmed with requests for college hour exemptions, including one from our newspaper class. When The Sun addressed the calendar committee to show our opposition to the delayed start time, and to make the case that Journalism 200 should qualify for an exemption, Dean Janet Mazzarella said she hated the new schedule so much that she will vote against every exemption request just to highlight the flaws of the compressed calendar.
While we applaud her determination to fix the calendar, we believe a better solution would be to give every applicant an exemption, effectively negating the College Hour debacle. Or better yet, college administrators could figure out how to postpone implementation of the new schedule until the half-baked idea is fully cooked.

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