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Major Woes: Students At Alamo Colleges Raise Their Voices Against Degree Changes

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Some of the students from this week's protest. Many placed black tape over their mouths to symbolize the lack of student input.

Students at Palo Alto College are protesting the changes at the Alamo Colleges, which effectively removed declared majors from most degrees and transcripts. They tell Texas Public Radio they were not given the opportunity to either voice their concerns, or ample time to react

Thirty students from Palo Alto’s Student Leadership Coalition are holding signs saying “student voices matter” or “Cut Bruce Loose,” a pointed reference to chancellor, Dr. Bruce Leslie.  They have gathered to protest a decision they say will adversely affect freshmen — those who’ve signed up from the fall of 2014 onward.

In April, the Alamo Colleges, a system of five community colleges in and around San Antonio, made a decision to remove majors from most degrees and transcripts. This meant that graduating classes majoring in an Associate of Arts of Science program, would receive a simple A.A. or A.S. certification, not their specific subject major. The logic? The Colleges would, instead, tailor a program based on what course of study a student wanted to pursue next, and it would afford the student more flexibility when transferring to a four-year college degree program.

Palo Alto College president Mike Flores said that college catalogs distributed in May reflected the change. He added that The Colleges were conducting an outreach campaign to inform students who might not know of the change, what it’s all about. “What we’re working on now is to ensure we promote and reach each one of the students that entered in the fall of 2014, because those will be the students who are currently impacted by this change,” said Flores.

He stated that 80 percent of students at the Alamo Colleges enter with the intent of transferring. In addition, the decision affects only new students seeking Associate of the Arts or Science degrees —Applied Science majors will still have a designated concentration printed.

But that doesn’t pacify Nickie Gomez, a freshman this year studying criminal justice. If the decision isn’t reversed, she plans to choose a different school next semester. “I don’t want Arts on my degree. I want it stated that I’m studying Criminal Justice and I want to see that on my degree. I’m not paying to be put in something else.”

Sophomore Simon Sanchez of the coalition says the problem is that despite what administrators stated, they (the students) didn’t really find out what was happening till the district sent out an email on the subject in September. “It’s alarming that they would let students know after the semester started, that they would not notify freshman at the beginning of the semester. It’s alarming (as to) what their motives are.”

The students plan to voice their concerns more formally at the Oct. 28 Board meeting at Northeast Lake View College. Whether those concerns will be taken up or not though, remains to be seen.