From students to staff: Coming full circle

Alumni explain their journeys back to City College

Originally published in the Dec. 9, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

Photo by Emily Foley

Photo by Emily Foley

For many, attending community college is a means to earn a degree in order to gain employment. For others, the “community” in community college means working with teachers who truly care about the future of their students in an effort to better themselves.

Not only did City College English professor and department chair Joshua Roberts experience the latter scenario, he decided to become one of those teachers. A self-described poor student leading up to his graduation from Kennedy High School, Roberts began attending City College in 1991.

“I was a horrible student in high school,” says Roberts. “[It wasn’t] because I wasn’t sharp enough, I was just a bad student. When I came here, I was pretty clueless as to what I wanted to do. I kind of took classes on and off for about five years, just enough to still be in school but not really.”

It was at that point that Roberts decided he wanted to become a teacher.

“It was the instructors here that really helped me learn how to be a student and focus myself and go after the things that I wanted,” says Roberts, who shares with his students that he attended City College and went through similar struggles as a way to help them feel like he knows what they’re going through. “I wanted to be able to give back and be able to help others the way people had helped me.”

After spending two years at City College on a quest for “academic renewal,” Roberts, who became a straight-A student, transferred to Sac State to pursue his career. He graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in English in May of 2001, and by September, he began a two-year internship teaching at Kennedy High School to earn his teaching credential through Sac State.

Roberts says he enjoyed being a student and wanted to earn more money, so he got his Master’s degree from Sac State in order to teach at the college level. After working at City College part time for a while beginning in 2005, a full-time position opened up and he got the job after the first interview.

Roberts, who also plays in a cover band and writes songs when he isn’t working, says he decided to teach at City College because it was such an important part of his journey. He adds that, aside from teaching high school, he has never considered working anywhere else.

However, Roberts says he may want to go into administration one day, but that his biggest enjoyment comes from getting through to struggling students.

“My passion and my love is in the classroom,” says Roberts. “As a teacher…you’re really working and pouring yourself into another person, so when you’re able to [help] the student who needs that and the student responds to that in a positive way, there’s just very few things that are more rewarding.”

Please click the jump to see the second portion of this feature article, which was a Q&A (compiled by Daniel Wilson) with other former students who now work for City College.

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City College Enrollment rules change

New requirements impact students’ priority registration status

Originally published in the Oct. 8, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

City College students speak to faculty in the Rodda Hall North building about registration and other important information. Photo By Emily Foley.

City College students speak to faculty in the Rodda Hall North building about registration and other important information. Photo By Emily Foley.

Community college has traditionally been a place of exploration and discovery when it comes to students finding what they want to do with their lives, but in today’s world that traditional institution is quickly changing because of new policies and rules coming down from government and district officials, including the loss of priority registration for some students.

Those policy changes can make getting a quality education, finishing one’s degree or transferring to an upper-division campus more difficult for some students. This is the case for Gavin Fielder, president of the City College Clubs and Events Board and mechanical engineering major.

According to City College Associate Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Debra Luff—in compliance with the Student Success Act of 2012 (SB 1456)—any student who is on academic or progress probation level two (and has too many W’s or a GPA lower than 2.0) or who has completed a total of 90 units within the Los Rios district will now lose priority registration and be switched to open enrollment.

In addition, first-time college students who enrolled in February 2014 or later are now required to complete a three-step process—which includes participating in an online orientation via D2L, taking assessment tests for placement into English and mathematics, and meeting with a counselor to create an individual student education plan (iSEP)—to qualify for priority registration.

These students will continue to be required to work their way up through priority levels, said Admissions and Records Supervisor Kim Goff, but unless they complete all three steps, they will not be eligible for priority registration.

Students pursuing high-unit majors can appeal each semester to keep priority registration, which is what Fielder said he had to do. He also had to set up an iSEP to show that he is on track to completing his educational goals in a timely manner.

“I’m definitely not a normal student,” said Fielder. “I’ve actually changed my major five times. I didn’t really come in knowing what I wanted to do. I kind of fooled around a lot. In addition to all the classes took before that weren’t really relevant [to my current major], I now have a lot of units to go.”

Luff said that students affected by these changes will be notified via their Los Rios email accounts. She added that the college is working to make sure everyone is aware of the new policies.

“[We’re] following up with phone call and emails and trying to get it in Facebook and all those social media avenues that we have,” said Luff.

There are a few other rules when it comes to the 90-unit cap priority registration policy, but according to Goff, there are several options for students who find themselves in this situation.

Any classes below the 100 level are not counted as part of the 90 units completed, Goff said. If a student is one semester away from graduating or transferring, he or she can appeal to keep priority registration. If student is on academic or progress probation, he or she will have to petition and show that progress is being made toward bringing up his or her GPA.

Goff said that this policy change is about helping new students approach college in a way that will help them meet their educational goals faster and more efficiently.

“It’s really about being successful and getting students to their goals,” said Goff. “There really aren’t that many students, district wide, who are over 90 units. We have some community members who are just taking one class, [such as] a P.E. class, and so the enrollment priority isn’t that important to them. There aren’t really a lot of students that fall into that category.”

However, when it comes to students who have not yet completed all three Steps to Success requirements, Goff says that number is much higher.

Goff said there are 3,500 new students this year and of those, approximately 1,400 haven’t completed all three steps. If they don’t complete the process by Nov. 1, those students will lose priority registration this semester for spring classes.

Though Goff said there are only a few hundred students across the district that fall into the 90 unit or more category who are also not close to transfer or graduation and who are not in high unit majors, she said that some students will be left to network for themselves when it comes to getting into classes they need.

“People are going to be stuck,” Goff said. “It’s not a widespread issue, but, of course, to the person who that happens to, it’s a really important issue. That’s the time when being an experienced student pays off when you can advocate for yourself and talk to instructors and email instructors and [try to get those classes].”

Paulina Chordas, communications major, who said she thinks the 90-unit cap will affect her, said this new policy is something that shouldn’t apply to long-time students.

“I changed my major from animal science to communications, so obviously a lot of things didn’t overlap,” said Chordas. “I still have a lot of things to get done before I transfer. I think [the unit cap policy] is kind of dumb considering that we’re so close to getting there. If we didn’t have a chance to do the [three-step process] when we started here, then you shouldn’t have that rule apply to us.”

These new policies not only have a direct effect on students who will have trouble enrolling in required classes, but also for Fielder, it has completely changed the way community college operates.

“I think they’re missing the point entirely: Community college isn’t about milling out students for transfer,” said Fielder. “It’s here for everyone, and it’s supposed to be open access, [but] they’re completely shooting that in the foot.”

Luff said that it comes down to a change in the role community colleges play in the educational process.

“It’s a cultural shift—it really is, for community college,” said Luff. “People need to plan to go to community college just as you would a UC or a private university, and that’s the message we would like to get out. There are steps that they need to go through as part of that planning and we’re trying to lay it out so that it makes it really convenient.”

But for Fielder, it’s not about changing one’s outlook as much as it is about the struggle between government regulations and what’s best for students, faculty and staff.

“I sit on a lot of different committees and there’s a lot of different opinions going around, but I think a lot of the faculty here want it to be open access, and they want it to be free and open to students, so I think our institution is not completely leaning toward this being a two-year transfer institution,” said Fielder. “That’s obviously the direction of the federal government and the regulations coming down from above, but that’s not necessarily our feeling on it.”

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District-wide parking fee increase

Daily parking fees double; more increases expected in 2015

Originally published in the Sept. 9, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

Sign Language major, Elizabeth says "It's not fair," about the increase price for parking at City College. Photo by Emily Foley.

Sign Language major, Elizabeth says “It’s not fair,” about the increase price for parking at City College. Photo by Emily Foley.

Los Rios students who drive to campus and pay to park in the student parking areas were greeted with a fee increase over the summer as the Los Rios Community College District raised the daily parking permit fee from $1 to $2 at all four campuses.

The increase took effect July 1 and will be accompanied by increases to monthly passes beginning next year. According to district Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Media Relations Mitchel Benson, the decision to raise the fees was made at a May 14 district Board of Trustees meeting.

City College Business Services Supervisor Robert Heidt said this is the first increase to parking fees since 1997, when the daily fee went from 75 cents to $1.

“Historically, Los Rios has been very prudent with increases to optional fees, including student parking permits,” said Heidt.

Benson explained that the main reason for the increase was to help maintain the parking structures and lots. Benson said there are more parking structures throughout the district and more to maintain than ever before.

“The increase was imposed because of the fact that the associated cost of operating and maintaining campus parking has increased dramatically since ’97, and there hasn’t been an increase to go along with that in that time frame,” said Benson. “So it was determined that an increase was needed.”

City College student Brandon Treadwell, business major, said he understands the importance of maintaining parking facilities, but he questioned the timing of the increase.

“Well, we have to keep the structures in good condition, but, on the other hand, it’s a brand new structure, so it’s kind of odd that we’re having to increase now instead of when they were first building it,” said Treadwell.

Benson pointed out that in addition to maintaining painted traffic lines, pavement and the daily operation of the parking areas, the parking fees also support campus police employees.

“The money goes to the folks who monitor the parking lots,” said Benson. “It’s for the folks who look out for student safety. It cannot be used for anything else.”

According to Benson, starting in January, semester parking passes for automobiles and motorcycles, which are recognized across all four campuses, will also increase in price by $5.

Semester automobile passes will increase from $30 to $35 and motorcycle passes from $15 to $20. Students who qualify for the BOG fee waiver will continue to receive a discount on rates for the passes. In June, summer passes will increase from $15 to $20 for automobiles and from $8 to $10 for motorcycles.

In comparison, according to Sac State’s official website, parking fees are currently $165 for an automobile per semester and $41 for motorcycles. In the summer, Sac State students pay $110 for automobiles and $28 for motorcycles. Weekly passes run $11 and daily passes are $6.

City College student Edgar Lozano, architecture major, said that he doesn’t think an increase in parking fees is fair to students.

“I think that it’s not okay for them to raise the fees because people have a hard time already paying for parking,” said Lozano. “It’s not fair that people have to pay more. I thought $1 was expensive already. I’m going to think twice to drive my car. I’m going to take light rail.”

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New building on schedule for completion

Student Services, photography, journalism building to debut summer 2015

Originally published in the May 6, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

City College's new Student Services building nears completion and is set to open in 2015. Photo by Gabrielle Smith | Staff Photographer |

City College’s new Student Services building nears completion and is set to open in 2015. Photo by Gabrielle Smith | Staff Photographer |

In June 2013, a vintage City College building, known to students as the Student Services and Administration of Justice building, was torn down and a construction project to create a new student services building began.

According to City College Vice President of Administrative Services Robert Martinelli, the new two-story building, which will include 16,000 square feet of usable space, doubles the space of the original building, and is on schedule to meet its February 2015 completion goal, partly thanks to California’s recent dry weather.

“To California’s chagrin, we’ve had a very dry winter, so [the construction crew] didn’t use many weather days at all during the course of the winter,” said Martinelli. “We’re still working on our plan to move into the building, but basically, it’ll be ready for summer of 2015 in terms of a semester.”

The new building will house Student Services on the first floor and the top floor will be the new home of the photography and journalism departments, according to Martinelli.

In addition to the new building’s construction, the Lusk building is also undergoing a construction phase, also due to be completed in 2015. Following that, a revision, which Martinelli says is currently in design, to Rodda Hall North will be the next project.

“Rodda Hall’s third floor currently houses photography and electronics,” said Martinelli. “So when journalism and photography go to the new building, electronics is going to Lusk 11. Then we’ll be able to get in and do the Rodda North project.”

The next projects on tap, according to Martinelli, are renovations of the Mohr Hall and Lillard Hall buildings. But Martinelli said these projects are held up because of a lack of funding.

“Those projects are dependent upon 50 percent, roughly, funding from the state,” said Martinelli. “Because of the budget crisis, the state hasn’t had a facility bond measure for several years. The next opportunity will be the fall of 2016.”

Martinelli said pending whether a measure for funding passes in 2016 or not, these projects would need to be reevaluated.

“What it would likely mean is we pull local money up to the Mohr project and fully fund that with local bond money,” said Martinelli. “That puts those later projects in kind of a precarious position. That’s the action point that we’re waiting on, the state bond and what is going to happen.”

The next phase of the project, following Mohr and Lillard’s facelifts, which are both scheduled regardless of where funding will come from, would be to expand the West Sacramento and Davis outreach centers, Martinelli said.

For now, the focus is on the new student services building. Vice President of Student Services Michael Poindexter said that before the building began construction, student, faculty and staff opinions were taken into consideration in an effort to make an easier, more streamlined process for new and existing City College students.

From this feedback, the college began looking at how to best combine the offices into a space that would make them more easily navigable.

“The building is being built based on information we received from students and pulling those pieces together to make sure that we have a welcoming front door for students that will be entering into the institution,” said Poindexter. “We’re really looking at the first floor of that building being the front door to the institution.”

Poindexter added that he feels the building’s design will cut down on student confusion and large crowds, especially during the first few weeks of the semesters and that overall, the new setup will provide better “customer service” to the students.

“I’m excited about it,” said Poindexter. “We’re going to have more of a welcoming feeling. We want a feeling as close as we can get, like a feeling when you walk into the Apple store. We’re going to have people available to talk with you as you enter into the building. There will be a reception area that students can stop in before getting into a line.”

Photography Professor Paul Estabrook got a chance to take an inside tour of the new building recently and said he’s excited to move into the new space soon.

Estabrook said in terms of construction, the best part is the openness of the building.

“The building is just great,” said Estabrook. “One thing across the board that people are going to be really excited about, it has a completely different feel than any other building on campus because when you walk in the front door, you can look up into photo journalism and [see examples of ] photography. Then on the second floor, you get this really unique perspective of the first floor, plus the campus because that whole front area is just glass.”

Estabrook shared Poindexter’s sentiments that the new building will be welcoming for students.

“It’s very warm, very inviting,” said Estabrook. “It seems like it’s going to be busting with activity. I wish it was done, ya know? I think journalism especially is looking forward to this because they’ve been in a temporary [building]. They’ve been camping out behind the baseball field for way too many years now.”

Additional reporting by Will Ownbey.

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Retiring class of 2014 bids farewell

Outgoing faculty and staff members honored with retirement reception

Originally published in the May 6, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

The retiring faculty and staff members for 2014 were honored at a retirement reception April 30 at City College.

During the event, all outgoing staff and faculty members were congratulated on their retirements, according to the official flyer for the event.

Among the retirees was Admissions and Records evaluator Rosie Vevea, who said that while she will miss the people and students of City College, she’s looking forward to hitting the open road to see America in her motorhome.

“I can’t wait to get out and relax,” said Vevea. “[I want to be remembered] as a hard worker and sweet woman.”

Also honored at the ceremony, Coordinator of the Learning Skills and Tutoring Center Kakwasi Somadhi said she will miss interacting with students and wants to be remembered as, “someone who loved her job and performed it well.”

Somadhi added that despite missing her daily work, she is excited for the future.

“I am looking forward to the freedom being retired brings,” said Somadhi. “I plan to spend my time writing, traveling, and being active in the community.”

For a full list of retirees, see below.

Robert N. Bickley • Robert J. Martinelli
• Elizabeth A Chape • Margaret McLaughlin-Jordan
• Richard J. Erlich • Harry E. Outlaw
• George R. Fleming • Donald T. Silva
• Gloria M. Galloway • Kit Sodergren
• Virginia G. Gessford • Kakwasi Somadhi
• Charlotte Humphries • Sharon D. Terry
• John A. James • Rosie Vevea
• Anna L. Joy • Sandra K. Warmington
• Gloria M. Lopez • Marlene R. Watson
• Karen L. Lukenbill • Niefia R. Zupancic
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Put down the pen, pick up a gamepad

The latest and greatest video games to play over spring break

Originally published in the April 10, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

Graphic courtesy Sac City Express

Graphic courtesy Sac City Express

 If there’s one thing that’s for sure in life, it’s that being a video gamer and a college student is a tough combination to juggle.

It’s hard enough trying to find time for any hobbies while slaving over stacks of paper, reading endless pages of textbook goodness, studying all night long for tests and quizzes and trying to stay awake through all those hours of lectures, but free time to play video games? What’s that?

Luckily, spring break is coming up and it’s an exciting time because that shiny new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 actually have some games coming out to play. The recently released “Infamous: Second Son” for PS4, “TitanFall” for Xbox One, and the multi-console “Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes” are sure to keep gamers busy during this year’s break from classes.

In addition, “Thief” for current and next generation systems recently began pick-pocketing gamers, and “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2,” “Dark Souls II” and “South Park: The Stick of Truth” hit current generation consoles over the last couple of months.

As for new releases over the seven glorious days of freedom, according to, “Lego: The Hobbit” turns Bilbo Baggins into a mini- figure, Elder Scrolls Online finally drops on PC, “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” brings the legendary series to the realm of MMORPG and Red Lynx Studios’ critically acclaimed series “Trials” comes to PlayStation with “Trials Fusion,” which will also release for PC and Xbox One.

For those gamers who are into motion gaming, Xbox One serves up “Kinect Sports Rivals” in time for spring break. While the picking is a little bit slim for the handhelds and Nintendo’s home console, the Wii U, gamers who haven’t picked up “Super Mario 3D World” yet owe it to themselves to play one of 2013’s biggest games.

In fact, picking up a Wii U is a good idea if nothing on the other consoles jumps out as must-play right now because in May, “Mario Kart 8” hits store shelves and a new “Smash Bros.” game is slated for release later this year.

Whether it’s a new release that has City College students firing up their consoles or PCs this spring break, or if they’re setting out to tackle that backlog of recent games that college classes have kept gamers from playing, there’s plenty of rest, relaxation and 12-hour button mashing marathons to be had during this year’s week away from campus.

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Learning to love life

Former SCC student with terminal illness speaks to Death and Dying class

Originally published in the March 25, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

Former City College student Cathy Speck speaks to professor Joanne Moylan-Aube's Psychology of Death and Dying class March 10 about her struggles with ALS. Photo by Elizabeth Ramirez.

Former City College student Cathy Speck speaks to professor Joanne Moylan-Aube’s Psychology of Death and Dying class March 10 about her struggles with ALS. Photo by Elizabeth Ramirez.

Legendary Yankees player Lou Gehrig is not only known for his triumphs as an all-time great first baseman, but also as a pioneer in raising awareness for the terminal disease that killed him in 1941.

“I might have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for,” said Lou Gehrig in 1939 during his goodbye speech at Yankees Stadium, explaining that even though his disease stopped him from playing baseball, he didn’t let it stop his love for life.

Lou Gehrig’s disease—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)–is a disease that gradually kills the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which control the muscles all over the body, eventually making it hard or impossible to walk, talk, eat, swallow or breathe. Most people diagnosed with the disease die within 3-5 years after the onset of symptoms, but in rare cases, people can live for much longer.

Cathy Speck, 54, is a former City College student diagnosed with ALS in 2009 who lives by a mantra similar to Gehrig’s. Speck says she believes that learning about the ability to cope with the loss of loved ones through humor gave her a completely new lease on life.

Speck spoke to City College Professor Joanne Moylan-Aube’s Psychology of Death and Dying classes March 10, something she has done many times before. But because of Speck’s worsening condition, Moylan-Aube said Speck might not be able to do so for much longer.

“Each time that I ask her [to speak to my classes], I always keep my fingers crossed, and hope and pray that she’s still capable,” Moylan-Aube said to the class before Speck began her talk.

After expressing how happy she was to be able to talk to the class, Speck—who sat on a stool behind her colorfully decorated walker, full of stuffed animals, rainbows and even a horn—started by addressing the disease.

“There is no cure whatsoever,” said Speck. “There isn’t really hope for a cure, certainly not within my lifetime.”

According to the ALS Association’s website, there is medication to help control the symptoms, but “when the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.”

Speck explained that she is not the only person in her family diagnosed with the disease. Her aunt, two of her siblings and her mother all died from ALS.

“My mom could do anything in the world, and she was never sick,” Speck said with a smile. “She was so strong and so funny and she knew everybody—just the most wonderful person I have ever known.”

Speck said her mother began experiencing muscle weakness when she was approximately 49. Doctors first diagnosed her mother with tennis elbow because, initially, her symptoms were mainly showing up in her arms.

In February 1971, when Speck was 12, the family assembled for a meeting and Speck’s dad explained to her and her seven brothers and sisters that their mom’s diagnosis was ALS. He read information about ALS from a pamphlet, which included information that the disease is fatal.

“I knew whatever these people thought they were talking about, they were not taking into consideration my mom because my mom could beat anything,” Speck said.

As Speck continued to address the class, she explained that the family took care of Speck’s mom at home for a while, but eventually she had to be admitted to the hospital.

Speck paused during her story to explain to the class that she was going to be funny, but first she needed to explain the devastation she went through so that people could understand why humor is a big part of her life.

“The last time I saw her, I said ‘see you later.’ That’s what I said,” Speck explained as the room went silent.

She said that two nights later, the phone rang at four in the morning.

“[My dad] came in and he sat down at the edge of my bed. He said, ‘Honey, mommy died,’” said Speck.

As Speck looked around the room at the students’ saddened faces, she said, “I know,” acknowledging to the room that this was the sad part of the story.

After her mother died, Speck said her life went into a downward spiral. According to Speck, she grew up in an era when it often wasn’t okay to talk about things like death and the associated feelings with which the loved ones of the deceased must cope.

While a student at Sacramento State, Speck played basketball for the college team. After blowing out her knee, Speck went through a very dark time in her life. She related how she jumped from addiction to addiction, suffered from bulimia and anorexia, and dealt with symptoms of depression, including self-mutilation and feelings of wanting to commit suicide.

Then one day, she noticed a beautiful little girl in a childhood photo and realized it was she. Knowing that she could no longer continue to put that little girl through such things, she decided to turn her life around by returning to school to explore her interests.

“What are some things that I like? I like singing, I like creative writing, I wanted to take women’s history,” she pondered to herself. “So I decided to go back [to college] and just take some classes I liked; just ones that I wanted to take.”

Speck enrolled in classes at City College, including Psychology of Death and Dying.

“I was like, ‘Yeah’ I want to take that, I’ve been pondering on that since I was 12,” said Speck. “This class saved my life. This class turned me around. I didn’t know what exactly was going to happen after I died, but it gave me the chance again to look and to know that I did want to live. I just had to figure out how to get there.”

After completing the class, Speck decided to focus on humor, singing and the other things she loved in order to cope with all the pain in her life.

In recent years, because of her experiences with the disease, she has not only become an expert on it, but also works to raise awareness through participation in events like the Greater Sacramento Walk to Defeat ALS, and other events.

In 2010, Speck went skydiving and said she decided it was the perfect way to raise awareness about ALS. Speck now works to help raise ALS awareness and money for research through her ALS Skydiving Specktacular, which will be holding its fifth annual event May 17 in Davis.

Students in the class were asked to turn in a one-page response to the speech that will be given to Speck to read.

“It really opened my eyes,” said Trevyn Currie, a computer science major. “I didn’t know anything about the disease. [Speck] being able to skydive is amazing.”

For Speck, being able to help others by telling her story along with enjoying life through humor is the reason she gets out of her hospital-style bed every morning.

“When I came here, when I was hurting and I was looking for something, I found it here,” said Speck after she was finished talking with the class.

“Not a lot of people want to talk about death and dying—it’s scary—but when you do talk about it, you find that you’re not alone.”

To learn more about Cathy Speck or to find out more about ALS awareness events including the May 17 skydive, visit her website at

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Marchers demand lower tuition fee

Community college students rally for affordable education

Originally published in the March 11 print edition of the Sac City Express

Photo by Dianne Rose |

Photo by Dianne Rose |

The annual March in March rally for higher education took the message of affordability “from the classroom to the Capitol” on March 3 as City College students joined others from several California community colleges on the south steps, despite the rainy and cold weather conditions.

The rally took place from 11 a.m. to noon and featured several speakers, including Assembly members, community college students and professors. Approximately 300 students showed up at the Capitol, chanting slogans like “no cuts, no fees—education must be free,” and “students united—we will never be divided.”

Student Senate President for California Community Colleges Aaron Bielenberg, who is a mathematics major at Mendocino Community College, pointed out that even when it began to rain around 11:30, students continued to show their support.

“Now it’s raining, and you know how many students I saw leaving?” Bielenberg said to the assembled crowd. “None. In fact, you all put up some umbrellas like it was a drill. It was quite something to see.”

Bielenberg, who explained he arrived at the Capitol just 30 minutes after completing a midterm, said that he understands the sacrifices that everyone made to be there.

“I’m going to go ahead and make a really rough estimate that for every one of you there’s a group about this size in the community college system,” Bielenberg said to cheers from the crowd. “It’s sometimes sorry to see that the voice of the community college system is the voice of those who are left over, a voice shadowed by the educational system, hardly using its mic.”

Bielenberg reiterated a message that most other speakers other speakers at the rally had stated—the stigma that those who attend community colleges are less privileged or incapable of attending university-level classes.

“If you look around you, the California community college students are some of the most diverse in the state, and, I would argue, the most perseverant,” said Bielenberg. “Any student. Any path. That is why the community college system is the most diverse. We are the greatest economic investment for California.”

Though community colleges aren’t currently facing any major budget cuts, according to City College Public Information Officer Amanda Davis, City College’s Student Associated Council said that this year’s march was important to keep student voices heard by local and state government officials.

“The march is important because the students are concerned that funding has been cut,” said Sandeep Singh, president of the City College Student Senate. “Although there is no big thing to fight about like Prop. 30 or AB 955, we still need to rally together and show the Legislature that we are still here. We voted for them.”

Along with Singh and other SAC members, Paul Kuang, acting president of the Clubs and Events Board, was out in the City College Quad at 8 a.m. to rally students to join the march.

Kuang said that one of the major issues is keeping textbooks affordable by providing low-cost or free online access to common textbooks.

“[Students] want the textbooks online, but most of the publishers don’t want that because they want the fees from books,” said Kuang.

Students from other Los Rios colleges also participated in the march. A student and director of legislative affairs for student government at Cosumnes River College, Malcolm Nash, said that he wanted to be a part of the march to support affordable textbooks, among other reasons.

“The march is important because students are important,” Nash said. “I would like [the state] to regulate publishers and not let publishers publish too soon, and then the books are outdated.”

Other speakers who addressed the students at the rally included: Michael Greenberg, SSCCC external affairs senator; Alex Ward, student selected speaker; David Morse, English professor, Long Beach City College and Academic Senate vice president; Martha Penry, California School Employees Association; Sherry Titus, director of the Office of Student Affairs, Palomar College; California Assembly member Rocky Chavez; California Assembly member Paul Fong, and Donovan Hamsher, March in March Committee Chair, SSCCC External Affairs Senator.

Angel Jimenez, March in March committee co-chair and the rally’s master of ceremonies, said that despite the fact that community colleges are not currently facing major cuts, it’s still important to address ongoing issues.

“There are still issues that plague the California community college system,” said Jiminez. “I mean, we are very fortunate that the governor’s budget this year was very abundant for the California Community College system. [It’s very important] to make sure that the government upholds to Congress that the money stays within the system.”

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Four City College clubs team up to promote sex positivity

Sex + City campaign features four days of speakers and presentations on sex education

Originally published in the Feb. 4, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

During the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, a group of City College clubs will present Sex + City, a campaign of events promoting the sex positivity movement.

Sex Positivity is a social movement that “seeks to promote healthy concepts about topics related to human sexuality through a stigma-free educational environment,” according to the event’s official website.

Sac City Freethinkers faculty adviser and graphic communication Professor Don Button said the campaign is presented in a collaborative e ort of the Sac City Freethinkers, to Feminists, Queer/Straight Alliance, and the Sociology Club.

The four-day campaign will include three days of informational presentations and speeches from well-known authors Laci GreenDarrel Ray and Jaye Cee Whitehead and will culminate in a paid event on Feb. 13.

It is also supported by the Secular Student Alliance, City College’s Club and Events Board and the SCC Foundation, as well as Floppy’s Digital Copies, which pitched in to help with printing signs to promote the events, and Bianchi Sound, which offered discounted prices on audio equipment for the speaking engagements.

Button said the event’s planning began in fall 2013 as an idea suggested by a Freethinkers club member.

“It kept ballooning from there,” said Button. “It just kept getting bigger and bigger from there because there were so many ideas and so much energy and interest both from students and faculty to address sexuality in a new, progressive way.”

Button, who added that proceeds from the paid event on Feb. 13 and any leftover money will be donated to club-related local non-profit t organizations, explained that the clubs involved have an interest in promoting openness to new topics, especially ones that aren’t socially accepted.

“All four of these clubs find it important in their mission to challenge traditional views on things, like with religion in the freethinkers club or feminism with the feminist club or social issues with the sociology club,”said Button. “We all address these things in different ways in the shared interest of opening people’s minds and changing their perceptions of the differences in people.”

A member of the Feminist Club and event planner Mariah Kolbe, women’s studies and linguistics major, said she got involved with the event after speaking to club members at last year’s Club Day.

“We’re just trying to open people’s minds and take these topics that are not necessarily available to the general public and help them feel like people are free to discuss them in a non-judgmental way,” said Kolbe, who is hosting the Monday events, as well as helping to plan the Wednesday and Thursday events. “We want [people] to feel open enough to discuss [these topics].”

City College psychology Professor Gayle Pitman is also helping with the planning of the events and said she got involved to help people shift their views from thinking that sex is a bad or dirty activity.

“The anti-abortion exhibit that came to SCC last fall incited a lot of emotional reactions, and it got me thinking about free speech issues,” said Pitman. “About a week after the exhibit was on campus, Don [Button] approached me about collaborating on a sex positive event at SCC, and I thought, what a perfect way to utilize free speech in a way that’s educational and empowering, rather than upsetting and potentially traumatizing like the anti-abortion exhibit was for many people.”

Pitman also added that her field of study played a big role in her interest to help spread a positive message about sex.

“Given that I also teach Women’s Studies courses, I come at this from a feminist perspective as well as a psychological one,” said Pitman. “Very few people have access to accurate and comprehensive sex education, and very few school-based sex education programs address consent at all.”

Kolbe, along with Button and Pitman said they are most excited to hear the Feb.12 presentation from Janet Hardy, who Pitman explained is “one of the coauthors of the book, ‘The Ethical Slut,’ which has helped so many people understand how to navigate alternative sexual relationships in a safe, sane and consensual way,” but all three said they are excited for all of the speakers and activities.

“Even if you can’t spend the money to go to the Thursday event—which is not that much, it’s only $5 if you buy it pre-sale—just come to the [other free] events because it’s going to be fun,” said Kolbe. “We hope to keep it going for the next couple years so we would like to have a good turn out and make it successful.”

Events will be held daily from Monday, Feb. 10, through Thursday, Feb. 13, leading up to the Valentine’s Day holiday Friday, Feb. 14. For more information on the free Monday-Wednesday events, the paid Thursday event or to learn more about the overall campaign, visit

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Scholarship money up for grabs

SCC Foundation and Transfer Center looking to help students fund their college careers

Originally published in the Feb. 4, 2014 print edition of the Sac City Express

Dalal Scarbrough (left), Linguistics major, asks about information to transfer to U.C. Berkeley while Simran Thiara (right), Economics major, acquires information to transfer to Sacramento State. Photo by Luisa Morco.

Dalal Scarbrough (left), Linguistics major, asks about information to transfer to U.C. Berkeley while Simran Thiara (right), Economics major, acquires information to transfer to Sacramento State. Photo by Luisa Morco.

Students who are looking for a little extra financial boost can apply for scholarships through the SCC Foundation or the City College Transfer Center.

Both the Foundation and the Transfer Center offer several scholarship opportunities for students, many of which require very little effort to apply, according to the facilitators of the programs.

The official website for the SCC Foundation states that scholarships are available to students who completed a minimum of 12 units at City College by the end of the 2013 fall semester and are currently enrolled in at least six units. Students must also meet the basic requirements for each scholarship and can apply for up to 10 different awards. The deadline to apply is March 7 by 4 p.m.

Additionally, the Transfer Center offers services, information and opportunities for students on how to put even more money into their college funds. On Feb. 11 from noon-1 p.m. in the Learning Resource Center, room 141, there will be a workshop to help students gather more information about these opportunities.

“They are one-hour sessions explaining the who, what and when of scholarships,” said Shannon Gilley, director of the Transfer Center. “There are many common questions students have, including how will a scholarship affect [their] financial aid.”

Ann Love, public services assistant in the SCC Foundation office, explained that the process to apply for scholarships, which are offered by various alumnus donors and other organizations, is simple, allowing interested individuals to easily navigate the online application system and complete the essays for those scholarships that require them.

“Names of volunteers and their contact information are posted on the SCC scholarship page, and students may call a volunteer for an appointment for help with applications,” said Love. “Also, students should always check to see that there are recommendations posted for them before the deadline.”

Recommendation letters are filed on behalf of students by faculty members, and students applying for scholarships are responsible for requesting them.

“Having only one recommendation, instead of the required two, can make the difference between receiving the award and losing it to a more conscientious applicant,” said Love.

For more information on the SCC Foundation scholarships, visit Scholarships.

For more on the Transfer Center workshops and scholarship opportunities, visit Rodda North 147, call (916) 558-2181 or visit www.saccity-online. org/transfercenter/scholarships.

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