In an effort to save money, Santa Monica College officials last week decided to cancel the winter session for the Emeritus College, meaning seniors will have to go without their exercise, performing arts and other classes for several weeks. The thing is though SMC will still pay to keep buildings open and staff employed, amounting to a savings that some say is only around $160,000.

So this week’s Q-Line question asked:
Is the savings worth cutting classes for seniors to help cover costs associated with the college at large? Should seniors have to start paying to help bring more classes online?

Here are your responses:

“Bloated salaries for the top and middle management is the problem with Emeritus College. And the problem that they have right now is one that is a straw dog because you would not believe how many seniors die and leave a ton of money to that place. In fact, someone died last year and left millions. But they said ‘No, we’re not going to continue the exercise classes and we need to keep this lump of millions in our heritage account.’ They are doing that same crap now, and that guy over at Santa Monica College who’s the president and the one who runs Emeritus, they’re both overpaid, bloated politicians pretending to be administrators. It’s crazy how much money the elderly people give Emeritus college. Every single year they get loads of money donated. This is a real slap in the face. … They’re screwing us.”

“I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw up. Education is one of the biggest scams, especially a town giving in to overdevelopment. The last election was the school district spin. The election before was City Hall’s. The next election will be SMC’s angle to tax our city’s bumpkins. Sadly politics is a divide and conquer of the gullible. SMC first frightens the seniors. Then the next group will be to scare low-income students with the defunding of child care and other freebies. The plan is to spook as many educational and progressive groups so they support the next SMC tax hike. If you run a business and keep raising the price of your product, you become bankrupt. If you are a public entity you just help raise taxes. This allows incompetence, like the SMC trustees, to flourish. There is not one person in this town in public office who is worthy of the title of leadership. SMC, like City Hall and especially the school district, will offer anything to select groups at the expense of the majority. Something for nothing is just that, nothing. This town has become less than zero.”

“We are so lucky to have Emeritus. This winter session only lasts a month. It would save a great deal of everyone’s time and bureaucracy and paperwork if this winter session were folded into the spring session and we went back to two semesters, fall and spring, as it used to be.”

“Educating the young is more important than my filling my time between now and my death with enjoyable classes. Ask seniors to pay on a sliding scale based on means testing.”

“If seniors (or anyone for that matter) want courses, let them pay for them. As usual SMC is being run for its unions and employees and not for the public.”

“More entitlements! Free exercise classes, free performing arts, etc. Of course those taking advantage of these classes should pay something to defray the costs. I doubt that a small fee would be a burden for any of them. The college could make exceptions for the truly needy. There is no reason why the public should support these classes, when most of the seniors are capable of paying for them.”

“When I attended there in the 1960s, it was 70 percent kids from Samohi and the rest were from local high schools. There was a fantastic skill center with auto, welding, electrical, metal working and wood shops. All of this was dropped after we got a foreign school president. They closed all the shop classes and began bragging about being the number one transfer college. Now the school is 70 percent foreign students and anyone who wants to learn a skill and not go on to a university is out of luck. There are no jobs for all these college grads, but we can always use a good auto mechanic. Why should we property owners in Santa Monica be taxed and taxed again for educating a lot of foreigners? The Emeritus was the only place where older people who are mostly U.S. citizens are still going and now they want to kick us old farts out. If the college is mostly for non-Santa Monicans, then it should be made private and stop taxing local property owners.”

“I am a senior currently taking a couple classes with Emeritus College, one of them being a health and fitness class. Participation in that class on a regular basis has helped my mental and physical well-being. Withdrawing the winter session would certainly be a set-back. Please count me in favor of keeping the winter sessions!”

“Lunch isn’t free and freedom isn’t free, and there’s no such thing as free Emeritus classes either; someone must pay for or subsidize these classes. Donations to Emeritus no doubt qualify for a tax deduction, but all Emeritus students, except for the truly needy, should be willing to help defray the cost of their ‘free’ classes. The sense of entitlement evident in several letters to the editor this past week is both selfish and regrettable.”

“I am a senior currently enrolled in a class at the Emeritus College and I have wondered why the classes are free. I asked and was told that there was a technical reason for the classes being free. I see no evidence of poverty among my classmates and personally feel I should be paying for my participation in this wonderful program.”

“I am writing in support of requesting SMC to reinstate winter classes at Emeritus College. As a participating senior with serious physical conditions, the health and fitness classes I take have strengthened me such that I can enjoy an active life style I could otherwise not have. A hiatus of five weeks will create substantial weakness and curtail my basic life activities. Hopefully, SMC will reconsider its closure of winter classes for me and similarly situated seniors.”

“I wish that a way could have been found that would not have imperiled the much-needed senior classes.”

“I think SMC could have and maybe still can go the extra mile for our seniors.”

“Please put my name on the list of supporters for winter class at Emeritus. The benefits I have gotten out of this class are unmeasurable. I give much credit to Emeritus for my well-being and health because of this class. (I have been able to stay away from the doctor.) Not to have this available in the winter months when we need it the most is a great loss. Please reconsider this matter.”

“I support restoring the Emeritus winter session if at all possible. Emeritus is a valuable community asset for the seniors of Santa Monica.”

“I am an SMC/Emeritus student and I would like to express my desire to have SMC/Emeritus reinstate the winter semester. With the passage of Prop. 30, SMC reinstated their winter semester, but didn’t reinstate Emeritus College winter semester. Emeritus has minimal expenses compared to SMC and we seniors contribute annually $200,000 to Emeritus. Many unpaid volunteers help staff Emeritus. Emeritus has 3,000 students and the many health and safety courses keep us fit and mentally healthy, thereby helping keep health costs down and also helping create folks with a healthy and positive attitude, which has many positive, far reaching effects in our community.”

“It would be really great if the classes for winter session were restored. The facility will be open with a full staff: director, utilities, staff, etc. And as I understand it, the only thing being saved is the teachers’ salaries, which amounts to approximately $50,000.”

“The current challenging economy has resulted in unfortunate, even devastating losses for many segments of the population. As a senior myself, and the wife of someone who has taken Emeritus classes for years, I feel strongly that all must share in these difficulties. Seniors are often accused of selfishness; unfortunately, that is sometimes the case. Young children, students at all levels, the disabled, all have seen significant cuts in programs important to them. There is no reason that seniors should be exempt. I know that many, in fact most, of the people who take classes with my husband are in a position to pay tuition. The fairest solution going forward is for Emeritus to charge tuition, with partial or full scholarships available for those who can demonstrate an inability to pay. While there are certainly older people in the Emeritus community living on limited incomes, there are also many who are comfortable or affluent. It is unreasonable for individuals with discretionary income to expect Santa Monica to underwrite their classes simply because of age.”

“Q-Line, along with so many people, seems to have missed the point of the SMC trustees cutting out Emeritus’ winter session. What the trustees did was to use those savings to offer more classes to SMC’s swelling student population, something most grandparents (and non-grandparents) fully understand and support. What might be needed at Emeritus is either a selection of free classes along with some paid classes or allowing seniors to sign up for one, two or even three classes for free and then pay for any others they want. The value to seniors of having classes available provides both an excellent learning opportunity and for increased socialization, something that is very important, perhaps even life saving, to some seniors.”

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