Despite the best efforts of Pasadena City College and its plans to handle the coronavirus situation, nothing could have prepared students for the sudden closure of the school despite past statements that said otherwise.
The administration of PCC recently announced the closure of many support offices throughout the campus due to coronavirus concerns in the Pasadena and greater Los Angeles area. While this may seem like a logical precautionary measure, the problem is that the administration previously stated that they would not close the campus and would keep services open for the students that need them.
Some of the support offices that will remain open in their normal locations include Financial Aid, Pathways, the Health Center, Personal Counseling and the Veterans Resource Center. The services that will close their physical offices but maintain representatives in the Welcome/Wifi Lounge include the ones most important and critical to student success such as EOP&S, Academic Counseling, DSP&S, the Transfer Center and the LancerPantry. These offices will only be open on Monday the 16th through Tuesday the 17th however, after which they will be closed indefinitely until further notice.
While all of those places are equally important to student success, the closure of the LancerPantry puts so many food-insecure students at risk of going hungry during this furlough period. Monday through Friday, the LancerPantry is always ready to help students who are just trying to survive one day at a time by providing them with free food, no questions asked.
The closure of other important offices such as the Transfer Center and EOP&S will also lead to many problems for students who will be transferring at the end of this spring semester. While some colleges might be more forgiving of this application year due to the nationwide shutdown of schools, others might not be lenient to some transfer students who could be placed at a disadvantage due to PCC choosing to close these essential offices with only skeleton crews and a folding table.
The extremely short notice of both the campus closures and the decision to move classes online has also severely impacted professors, whose lecture plans for the semester have been thoroughly diced into pieces. While this is an understandable setback, what isn’t understandable is not only the lack of communication to students but the lack of communication with their staff as well.
The decision to move most face-to-face classes online was on Mar. 11, giving professors a mere week to prepare to transfer their entire course plan to remote instruction. This left professors scrambling to keep up with PCC’s inconsistent schedule, all the while learning remote instruction programs such as Zoom.
PCC’s reluctance to tell students the truth is also insulting.
When schools across the nation were shutting down, PCC sent out an email simply stating that as no one in Pasadena had the virus, the campus would remain open for business, despite schools like Purdue shutting down despite Indiana having, at the time, six cases in the entire state. A pitiful number compared to California, which had 32 cases at the time of shut-down in the Los Angeles area alone.
Then, mere days after someone in Pasadena was quarantined, PCC changed their tune to “that individual had no known interactions with PCC facilities, students, faculty, or staff. The college remains open for business,” before pushing the big red button and finally shutting down the school. Admittedly, while an international incident at this scale is nearly unprecedented, the way PCC went about handling their staff and students on extremely short notice is not the way they should operate. Ironic, isn’t it? PCC somehow gave staff no time to prepare, despite moving at a snail’s pace compared to other schools. Almost seemed like they were just waiting for it to all blow over.
The administration has also not released any tentative plans on how to circumvent the closure of the offices for the students who frequently use them, essentially leaving them in the dark. It is understandable that the order to restrict campus access was given by the L.A. Department of Education on short notice, and that the administration has not yet fully planned out its response to operate a barren campus for an estimated month-long furlough that can be subject to extension. However, the lack of transparency, timely communication, and no real plans paints the idea that the administration of PCC is wholly unprepared to deal with a logistical crisis of this size.
While one month (subject to extension) may not seem that long of a closure, if it is not handled properly then we as students may fail to succeed in our academic goals all because the administration we put our money and trust into cannot handle this crisis in the most effective way possible.