Lane Community College instructors complained about increased class sizes to the Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Kenneth Zimmerman, an instructor in the Language, Literature and Communication division, read a letter to the board that had been drafted by several teachers.
LCC instructor Sue Williams told the board that she has been a college teacher since the mid 1980s and that the classes she is teaching now are the largest she has ever taught.
“The basic values of this college have been violated,” science instructor Dennis Gilbert said. He asked the board to correct what he called a misstep that the college has taken.
Student government president Michael Weed read a letter to the board from his chief-of-staff Robert Schumacher. Schumacher’s letter states in part that, “At the start of this fall term our campus underwent what is a significant change; a significant change that ultimately impedes our campus from achieving its core objective, student success.”
He explained that he has less access to his writing teacher, adding that other students whom he mentors have experienced similar strains. Schumacher acknowledged the budget constraints that the college is facing, but concluded that limiting students’ access to instructors, who are an invaluable resource, is counterproductive to what LCC is all about.
In his closing statement, board chairman Pat Albright said that it is a policy of the board not to comment when people come to talk at board meetings. He, therefore, spoke on the matter of increased class sizes at the end of the meeting.
Albright said that when he started as a writing teacher in 1975, he had a book stating that, to be effective as a teacher, writing classes should be no larger than 18 students.
“I have to confess that I can’t argue with the folks who came here to speak,” Albright said. “Except for the fact there is a bigger picture, I absolutely agree that we should have small class sizes, especially in writing classes.”
Albright went on to say that the college is in a difficult situation, likening it to a balancing act.
“Balancing issues is limiting our ability to do what we know is right,” Albright said. President Mary Spilde said that analysis of the relevant data had not yet been completed and that she only had an overview regarding the impact of the increases on certain classes.
A cursory look, Spilde commented, suggests that most classes were not that much bigger than the target number.
“It’s not universal,” Spilde said. “Some were larger.”
She said that rather than jumping to conclusions about the class sizes, a closer look at the data is warranted, adding that the information will be shared once it has been reviewed.
“That’s one piece,” Spilde said. “The other is that this was part of a collective bargaining agreement, which allowed us to put more money on the table, and we have a million and half riding on the budget based on that.”
She explained that the class registration increase was part of a consensus agreement and a budget recommendation from the budget subcommittee.
“You can’t just unilaterally pull out of a collective bargaining agreement,” Spilde said. “Let’s make an evidence-based decision before we decide to undo anything.”
Students welcomed with information, fun and food
Lane Community College was alive with the buzz of anniversary celebrations as students thronged to campus for fall term. On Wednesday, Oct 1. students were handed free, bright blue Lane 50th anniversary t-shirts as they took to the main walkway. Where they were greeted by the smells of barbecue.
Members of the Associated Students of Lane Community College worked tirelessly to make Welcome Week a huge success.
Five student clubs were present to raise awareness of the cultural clubs available in campus. The clubs represented were:
The clubs recently unionized to better meet the needs of students and to spread diversity at Lane. They are now collectively called SoJust. “We want people to know there’s a community here for them and they can come to the community,” Derek Muniz, a representative from the Native American Student Association, said.
The goal of the SoJust Barbecue—a mishmash of the words “Social Justice”– was to raise awareness of the clubs and bring people of all walks of life together. The students, who were lined up 20 and 30 deep for the free food, were asked for a suggested $3 donation.
Continuing on to the heart of campus, students passed a line of tables from the many different organizations at Lane. Representatives from The Tutoring Center were letting students know about the free tutoring available.
“The main event of Fall Welcome Week is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lane Community College,” newly elected ASLCC Senator Christian Mello said adding that it made lots of people happy. “Who doesn’t like free food?”
Lane’s Fencing Club had representatives brandishing swords in an effort to sign up new members. The “Vote OR Vote” student government campaign had volunteers urging students to register to vote in the upcoming state election on November 4.
Lane’s classified union, AFT Local #2417, staffed a table to let classified workers and students know about the union on campus and how they can achieve better working conditions through paying dues and completing a bargaining survey.
A dunk tank was set up in the shadow of the Center Building and featured members of the student government taunting people to dunk them to raise money for the Rainy Day Food Pantry.
In its May 29 issue, The Torch failed to mention that classified employees and managers were also recognized alongside faculty members at the Lane Employee Recognition Gala. The Torch regrets this error.
In its May 14 issue, The Torch incorrectly spelled Women’s Center assessment and testing specialist Marci Parker’s name. The Torch regrets this error.