Despite discord among committee members, student groups and faculty over the proposed reinstatement of winter intersession—culminating in the Associated Students formally agreeing to support winter and voting to censure English professor Roger Marheine—the Calendar Committee will submit an academic calendar including a winter term to the College Council.
The calendar meeting last Thursday afternoon was moved to a third-floor classroom in the C building from a meeting room downstairs to make room for the students and faculty present for public comment.
Student Trustee Marshall Lewis said that English professor and Faculty Association member Roger Marheine approached members of the Associated Students in the hallway before the meeting, aggressively pointed his finger in their faces and asked each if they were “for or against winter.”
“He was very loud and hostile,” said Lewis of the incident. “It’s characteristic of Calendar Committee. I mean, it happens and it’s this community we’ve created around here where everyone wants to argue and be hostile.”
Faculty and students from many disciplines including dental, languages, graphic communications and television production spoke in support of bringing back a calendar with a winter intersession. They cited reasons including the strain that two back-to-back summer sessions has on students, affording ESL students the opportunity to continue with their English studies without a break and giving students more hands-on time learning skills in highly technical programs such as dental hygiene.
Representatives from the Students for Social Justice club, whom Marheine was the faculty adviser for at the time of the meeting, presented their petition to bring back winter intersession during public comment. At the time of the committee meeting, the club had collected 937 signatures in support of winter intersession.
The Associated Students’ survey results found that 64.6 percent of the 856 students polled who have attended PCC for two or fewer years said they’d prefer a calendar with a 6-week intersession between fall and spring semester. Additionally, 41.41 percent of the 297 students polled who have attended PCC for more than 3 years said they had taken classes during a winter intersession in the past.
Lewis clarified that Associated Students do not support the SSJ petition. He said the information attached to the petition and being distributed to students is not factually accurate and focuses too much on past events involving the cancellation of winter intersession.
“There was a stat sheet at the top that said if you’re transferring, summer doesn’t count for transfer – that’s false,” said Lewis. “Every single calendar is going to have four sessions – two intersessions and two normal sessions. The summer after spring, as it sits now, does not count for transfer because you’ve already taken two summers.”
SSJ President Renee Haserjian expressed frustration with the AS getting hung up on semantics in an email following the Wednesday AS meeting.
“We made an effort to educate our fellow students on the merits of a winter intersession, as opposed to simply sending out a neutral survey without any explanation or historical contextualization,” said Haserjian. “We feel that it was irresponsible for Associated Students to dismiss our petition, which represents the voices of almost 1,000 students who wanted winter intersession to return.”
Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Scott said she is not opposed to a winter intersession, but that she thinks the process is moving too quickly.
“We have a new president coming in and I don’t think the board – to be totally honest with you – is going to support this right now,” said Scott. “I don’t know if they are going to make any major change when we don’t know who the president will be.”
Professor Lydia McDonald from the Languages department said reinstating a winter intersession is long overdue.
“Two years in a row this committee voted to reinstate winter. Two years in a row our recommendations were not even submitted to the Board of Trustees,” said McDonald. “Ignoring the history and ignoring students for years – yes, you are different students now. Some of you are still here, others are gone, but their reasons and arguments are just as valid.”
Marheine was replaced by Tony Jugé as faculty adviser of Students for Social Justice following the Calendar Meeting. The Associated Students voted to censure Marheine at their meeting on Wednesday in an action that Lewis hopes will raise awareness within the shared governance groups of the importance of civility, respect and professionalism.
Marheine apologized at the Associated Students meeting and said that his 25 years on the Calendar Committee has made winter intersession an emotional topic for him.
“My remarks were inappropriate; they were not collegial – they were wrong both in substance and tone,” said Marheine. “I would like to move forward in a genuine dialogue of respect and collegiality and that we have more communication between the meetings.”
A clause in the newly approved Faculty Association contract for 2013-2016 states that calendar negotiations can be reopened pending the Public Employment Relations Board’s decision on the Pasadena Area Community College district’s appeal of their 2013 decision that the district violated the Educational Employment Relations Act by unilaterally implementing a 2012-2013 trimester calendar.
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