Students’ success includes classified staff

Rodney Brown, Counseling Department

In the April 10 edition of The Torch, there was a guest commentary written by a handful of Lane faculty members. In the commentary there was a lot of talk about respect — or, to be precise, a lack of respect. I am not pretending to know what the issues are in this bargaining process, nor do I want to discuss them. What I do want to talk about is respect.

As a classified staff member, and a college employee for close to 24 years, I’ve seen good bargaining times and bad ones. I’ve seen the classified staff settle for less than we are probably worth, but we did it for the good of the college. In 2005 and 2006, I watched other classified workers be told that their jobs were being cut, gone. We lost three positions in my department, we haven’t replaced them yet and we picked up the extra duties and went on serving students. The faculty lost positions in those years also. Some of those positions have been replaced, in my department, as early as last year.

So here we are again in 2014 with another budget crisis. Some of us are wondering, is it going to be as bad as it was in 2005-2006? The Lane Community College Education Association’s signs are out. You see them on the road coming into Lane, on office doors, bulletin boards and walls. What, you may ask, does this have to do with respect? Everything. The signs could mislead one to assume that the faculty is the sole reason students are successful and achieving their academic goals. One sign reads “student success starts with faculty success.”

Let’s take a journey of students starting their successful education at Lane:

•They apply for financial aid if they need it. Paperwork is eventually reviewed, and money is awarded by classified staff.

•They apply to the college, perhaps getting a little help with that process, and the application is processed by classified staff.

•They take a placement test to see what classes they should take. The test is administered, scored and explained by classified staff.

•They see their academic advisor or a faculty counselor. Yes, possibly their first interaction with a faculty member. But before they sit down with the counselor, the classified staff working a front desk checked them in.

•They register for classes built by classified staff. Perhaps they get a prerequisite cleared by classified staff. They get help registering by classified staff or a peer mentor.

•They buy their books from the Titan Store, staffed entirely by classified staff.

•They have countless more interactions with classified staff until, finally, they come to the first day of classes and sit in classrooms to begin their education with a faculty member.

So does student success start with faculty success? I think not. It starts with all of us here at the college wanting students to be successful. So when I see that sign and other similar ones, I don’t feel respected for the work I do and the success I contribute to our students. Remember: It takes a village.