There is change in the air at Southwestern College, not to mention a whole lot of dust.
Proposition R, the $389 million bond measure passed in 2008, enabled the construction of athletic facilities on the main campus and an expansion of the Higher Education Center in National City (HECNC).
Our long-cursed corner lot at East H Street and Otay Lakes Road is a shape-shifting proto-mountain of dirt that will eventually become two Olympic-sized pools and a public wellness center gym complex. A science and engineering building will give students modern STEM facilities. HECNC facilities will include classrooms, laboratories, a small community clinic, a new student center and administrative offices.
These coming facilities are welcomed, but other disciplines have been left in the dust. Students of the performing arts, humanities, professional studies and others have been left out.
So now it is time to keep the momentum going and forge ahead.
Proposition Z, on the November ballot, will fund further modernization. One beneficiary will be the enormous School of Business and Technology, which serves students in landscape and nursery technology, architecture, automotive, electronics, environmental technology, web design and others. Business administration is the second most popular major at SWC, right up there with nursing and psychology, according to SWC’s Annual Report.
Dr. Mink Stavenga, dean of the School of Business and Technology, said Proposition Z is essential.
“We could potentially serve students with better equipment and we could attract more students,” he said. “We have very large technology programs in this school which have outdated facilities and equipment.”
Many buildings on campus are more than 50 years old, said Trustee Humberto Peraza, and too many of them are in a sad state.
“There’s lots of things that are stuck in the 1960s or 1970s as far as building space,” he said.
Peraza said Proposition Z would focus on rebuilding the center of campus, the more academic-based portion, where most classes are actually taught. It would benefit the School of Literature, Language and Humanities, which offers classes that in some cases are essential for transfer, a goal our Interim President Robert Deegan, has highlighted. He said the college should aim to increase the rate of student transfers.
It will also benefit the School of Arts, Communication and Social Sciences with a new performing arts center to replace crumbling Mayan Hall.
Peraza said the performing arts center will change the face of the college.
“It will be placed near the edge of the street so it is more visible,” he said. “Otherwise, there’s no way for the community that is driving by to see anything that is going on here.”
Some opponents of Proposition Z are reluctant to support another bond considering the college’s relatively recent grim history of corruption.
Peraza said he understood.
“The last bond brought a lot of corruption,” he said. “I get it.”
Peraza said the days of pay-for-play are long dead and buried. Voters can trust the new board and administrators to do things right.
“A lot of the areas that need it are falling apart and need an update,” Peraza said.
Others have noted Propositon Z does not include renovation to the library but Peraza said that building is relatively new in comparison to others.
Proposition Z lamentably still leaves out the bookstore and the School of Instructional Support and Continuing Education, both of which should be considered for prospective renovation in the future.
Much remains to be done, including renovation of the San Ysidro and Otay centers. At the main campus there will be a new Academic Success Center and a new Student Union.
Proposition Z deserves our support. It would help generate revenue to be used in case funding gets cut, as it happened in the past, to preserve student services like library hours and tutors.
Southwestern College is a jewel in our region. It needs some polish. Please vote Yes on Proposition Z.