SGA gives Guided Pathways conditional endorsement

Dylan Kerzin, Staff Writer

The Student Government Assembly (SGA) endorsed the controversial Guided Pathways program on the condition that students be involved in its implementation.

According to Student Trustee Robert Marinez, there are less than 300 black students and 100 Native American students enrolled at the SRJC, and while the average student takes 6.7 years to complete, women of color take nine years. Supporters of Guided Pathways said it would narrow the equity gap between privileged and underprivileged students.

Guided Pathways would guarantee the college receives the California Community Promise, which makes college tuition free for first-year students no matter their background and provides additional funding for other projects.

Martinez said if SRJC chooses not to sign on Guided Pathways, it would lose 1.5 to 2 million dollars, and this will multiply by five in five years. The school would lose 25 percent of funding for basic skills, ESL and learning communities programs.

Forty-five percent of students right now do not qualify for the Board of Governors’ fee waiver, and the California Promise Grant, which is conditional on Guided Pathways, could attract more students who don’t qualify.

“On average students take 89 units, though students only need 60 to graduate—so where are the other 29 coming from?,” Martinez said. “A lot of students, myself included feel they’ve taken a lot of courses they don’t need. Hopefully Guided Pathways can cut that time down.”

Stephannie Starr, former Vice President of Diversity Affairs said, “Imagine what it’s like for first-time students, who sometimes aren’t even from this country. To be able to find cohorts and friends who are deeply and whole-heartedly invested in teaching them from their cultural standpoint is invaluable, and from my prospective it is something we need to fight tooth and nail to keep funded.”

Vice President of Student Life Dori Elder said she could have benefited from more guidance when she first enrolled.

“As an older student who, when I first started here had kids at home who needed me, I was only able to take one class at a time,” Elder said. “I’m taking these classes I don’t need in order to be considered full time. I want to be a sign language interpreter, why did I have to take an art class? Why did I have to take an upper-level science class?”

Elder said,  “If Guided Pathways gets rid of all that BS, maybe I would have had my Associate’s Degree a long time ago.”

The SGA unanimously voted in favor to endorse Guided Pathways.