Priority enrollment exasperates students

Beginning May 9, Santa Monica College will begin paring back on the amount of classes offered for both summer and fall semesters; additionally, due to an all-time high demand for enrollment, adjustments have been made to the priority enrollment system. The current enrollment system works on a first come first serve basis. Due to the state's budget crisis, funding for California's community colleges is challenged; consequently, budget cuts will begin to show significant effects during the approaching semesters.

During the six-week summer session, students are only allowed to take a maximum of five units. This allows the opportunity for more students to enroll in at least one class during the summer, despite the fact not all students will get the classes they need.

Currently, the enrollment priority system is designed to serve extended opportunity programs and services (EOPS), veterans, scholars, and disabled students early priority dates. Following these high priority students are continuing students closer to finishing the amount of units needed in order to transfer; lastly, first year students starting out usually get later enrollment dates.

Although the system is designed to allow students the best opportunity to fulfill their goal, first year students aren't able to get the courses they need to put their best foot forward.

"It's not fair. Why should other students should get one step ahead of us?" said SMC freshman Shannon O'Hehir. "I had this whole educational plan, but now I'm not taking any of the classes that I wanted." Countless students like O'Hehir have to crash classes in order to enroll. In O'Hehir's case, all three of her current classes this semester were crashed.

Crashing classes has been and will continue to be a strategy for students to enroll in classes, but especially now since SMC is facing an inflated student body, and the funding and resources needed to accommodate the resulting demands are impaired.

In a recent Board of Trustees meeting Superintendent and President Dr. Chui L Tsang added Black Collegians and Adelante to the list of special programs granted priority enrollment dates. Soon after, administrators later halted their decision to add Adelante and Black Collegians students to priority enrollment for the summer and fall semester.

"I'm involved with Black Collegians, but I still find trouble enrolling into classes before they're gone since I get late priority," said music major Eldred Burge. "I think priority dates are setbacks, because it makes it harder for students to accomplish their goal."

"In terms of priority enrollment dates - we had been told a few weeks ago that we were going to get priority enrollment dates for Black Collegians students for the first time ever," said Sherri Bradford, Program Leader of the Black Collegians. "However, the administration made a decision to not allow that for the summer 2011 and fall 2011 enrollment cycle, and to maintain the enrollment priorities that have been in place for several years."

SMC administrators are currently waiting for the state budget to be completed; but without a budget, administrators cannot implement a new enrollment system to better assist students. Until then, the existing enrollment priority system will stay in effect until further notice.