I am appalled, both as a student at Emeritus College and as a part-time instructor at Emeritus College, as to the actions of some people, both students and faculty, as to their response to fiscal problems in California and how it is affecting Emeritus College. The writing is not only on the walls, but on the ceilings, doors, floors, and any place else that you can see that there is a major shift in emphasis on educational priorities. The state can no longer afford to provide free classes to its senior citizens and still offer the kinds of classes needed by our youth to obtain educational goals leading to their professional objectives.
As seniors, we have had a fantastic opportunity here at Emeritus College to partake in all kinds of classes, from Shakespeare’s plays, to Tai Chi, to drawing and painting, to computers, to photography (plug), to even the Bible as literature, all at no cost; not one red cent. It is painfully apparent from reading the newspapers, watching TV, and listening to Gov. Brown that these free courses must largely go away if we as a state want to provide our youth with the kind of education they will need to survive and flourish.
And yet, I see and hear both students and some faculty members rant and rave at Santa Monica College officers, administrators and staff members for doing exactly what they have to do to meet the budget handed down to them. It is critical that if Emeritus College is to survive, we must work together to formulate a plan that enables the college to offer low-cost classes to most seniors and scholarships to those who cannot even afford the low-cost classes.
I know that for some seniors, the classes are an important part of their life, for some, even a critical part of their life, and for those we must figure out ways to make the burden as fair as possible without the rancor that some seem to feel is necessary. I therefore raise a question. Should students pay the same amount for a class that can only accommodate 25 people as for a class that can accommodate 50 or 70 or even 100? To my way of thinking, the cost should be the same regardless of class size. The excess funds from the larger classes should be used to reduce and equalize the cost to the students in the smaller classes. But, that is only my thought, my sense of fairness. But only through dialogue with others, through a fair an open discussion can we arrive at a consensus and save Emeritus. We cannot do that through rancor, name calling, or impugning the actions of others.
As I get ready to leave on a two-week vacation will I find when I get back seniors picketing and yelling at college trustee meetings or will I find a consensus building in the senior community along with the Emeritus College administrators and staff about how to best tackle this problem? I hope and think it will be the latter, but I must admit, I am worried.