By Mal Paisley – Cougar News Contributor
There are several policy changes that may affect College of the Canyons in the near future. These policy changes have been presented to the Associated Student Government on behalf of the Board of Trustees for review and endorsement. Nearly all of these policy changes are being mandated by the state and are beyond the control of the district, with the exception of one important change. This particular change to COC policy will significantly affect enrollment and raise fees for hundreds of students at COC.
These changes are at the sole discretion of district officials and are not currently being mandated by the state. The changes will modify board policy #5010 which outlines all programs and fees for concurrently enrolled students, i.e. all students that are enrolled in both high school and COC simultaneously (not including Academy of the Canyons). Some of the significant changes will include: denying all high school freshmen and sophomores admission to COC unless they pass a special test; denying all concurrently enrolled students’ physical education, kinesiology, and other specialized courses; and eliminating all current fee waivers for these students.
The Associated Student Government has been presented with the choice of endorsing or opposing the changes to this particular policy. Because of the significant affects of this policy the simple choice can be seen as more of a dilemma; ASG has recently seen its executive board heated and divided on this particular issue. The cause of this division is as dynamic as the affects of these policy changes, but it mostly stems from the elimination of the fee waiver for these students.
First, let’s look at the most prominent positions and arguments on this issue. To begin with, are the concerns for the school and the state: The fee waiver may cost the school and the tax payers’ money while concurrently enrolled students should pay as much as regular students anyway. This issue is more complicated than it first appears, consider the following: All students at community colleges cost the taxpayers significantly more than $26 per unit. The money that is collected from us in fees is deducted from the schools state budget, therefore COC generates no revenue from fees, but the state does save some money. Once this fee waiver is eliminated concurrently enrolled students must pay all the same fees as a regular student, but unlike a regular student they do not have access to any financial aid programs. This will deny the qualified, but less privileged students a college education.
Another relevant concern is our already high enrollment numbers and funding: The program may fill scarce seats with high school students rather than real college students. Here we begin to compare the value of these two different types of college students: Admissions procedures give concurrently enrolled high school students’ lowest priority registration (with the exception of Academy of the Canyons). The concurrently enrolled students are still ‘real’ college students, and the school gets completely equal funding for their enrollment.
What may be more surprising than the policy changes is ASG’s position, or lack of, on this important issue. Many argue that ASG is obligated to be vehemently opposed to these policy changes. As students of COC we give the ASG the funding and power to effectively represent us, which means the students’ interests come first, not the taxpayers. These next few ASG meetings of the spring semester may determine not only if we have a failed student government but the immediate fate of hundreds of students at COC. As a student at College of the Canyons I cannot help but wonder: if the Associated Student Government is not looking out for the best interests of the students, who will?