Los Angeles Collegian Online

Chancellor Urges Early Enrollment and Rejects Student Involved Violence

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Screenshot via zoom. California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley discusses the outlook for colleges amid the pandemic response and the plan to return to campus.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Screenshot via zoom. California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley

 

BY JUAN MENDOZA;

(East Hollywood, Calif./April 28, 2021) — The coronavirus surge hit younger students hard as the “disconnection rate” doubled. That is the share of unemployed young adults who are neither enrolled in school nor employed, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data pulled from the Pew Research Center. That comes to an estimated 10.3 million young adults who are out of work and out of school.

“Many working students have lost hours or lost their job. We want to do everything we can to re-engage with those students,” Oakley said. “And get them back enrolled so that they can get to their educational goals quickly as possible.”

Student reporters took notes about plans to reopen 116 California community colleges and the vaccine rollout, which Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley discussed during a one-hour Zoom conference on March 25, 2021.

In addition to discussing the financial aid needs of students throughout the state, Oakley also delivered words of encouragement.

The chancellor praised student reporters and thanked them for their work, which he called an important job. He said the reporters at community colleges provide the channel of communication between his office and students.

Oakley emphasized the importance of early enrollment for summer and fall 2021 for students who are not graduating.

Chancellor: Wear Masks on Campus

“We want to get the word out through your fellow classmates to en- roll now for summer and fall, so that they have the best chance to get their classes,” he said.

Jeremy Villar who is dean of Student Services at L.A. City College encouraged students to enroll in the upcoming summer and fall 2021 semesters as soon as they can.

“Enrolling early gives colleges an indication if there is enough student interest in a class,” Villar said. “If class enrollment is low as we near the start date, it may be cut due to low enrollment, which is not good for students who need the class.”

The chancellor says economic fall- out and health effects of the pandemic caused enrollment to decline.

Chancellor Oakley says scholar- ships, grants and other financial aid resources are available. Applications are still being accepted for those who did not apply for the 2021-22 academic year.

“There’s a lot of important resources particularly now in this covid environment,” he said. “We want to get as much information to students across the state.”

Chancellor Oakley

“There’s a lot of important resources particularly now in this covid environment,” he said. “We want to get as much information to students across the state.”

The COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill includes $2.3 billion for community colleges to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Half of those funds will be emergency grants for students. The other half will assist college campuses as they prepare to reopen by fall 2021.

Gov. Gavin Newsom included $100 million in student financial aid in an emergency budget package in late February.

The grants will help students hardest hit by the pandemic. To qualify, students must be currently enrolled in at least six units, with an earned GPA of 2.0. The student must demonstrate emergency financial need that includes loss of employment. Dis- abled students must be eligible for social services.

“Lots of support has been hitting your colleges to help students directly,” Oakley said. “So, we want to make sure students are aware of those resources.”

According to Oakley, community college students in almost every region of California pay “higher net prices” than do students who attend the UC or CSU systems.

Assembly Bill 1456 was introduced at the state legislature to make the Cal Grant system more accessible for low-income students. Chancellor Oakley says the state community colleges fully support the bill.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley: Campus Must Become Haven for AAPI Community

The chancellor says all campuses must come together to ensure the Asian American and Pacific islander community is protected on California campuses.

Referring to the anti-Asian and Pacific Islander rhetoric and violence that has happened across the state and the country, Oakley was very clear.

“We cannot tolerate in any way, shape or form,” Oakley said. “There is no connection between our brothers and sisters in the AAPI community and the causes of COVID-19 or the connection to China.”

Back to Campus

As the COVID-19 infection rates continue to decrease and vaccines are becoming more available, community colleges are in the planning process of reopening for fall 2021.

“Our priority is the health and safety of students, faculty and staff,” he said. “We’re going to do it in a way that maintains [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines so there is likely to be continued social distancing protocols.”

The hybrid model approach will likely be for hands-on instruction and classes that require labs.

Also, intercollegiate sports will begin their comeback in the fall.

Students may schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at myturn.ca.gov, a state website where students, faculty and staff can register for the vaccine as it becomes available.

“I’m lucky I got my vaccination, so I feel very good about the direction we’re going, and I’m hoping that everyone in the system gets their vaccinations soon,” Chancellor Oakley said.

Even with the hope the vaccine brings, he says it is still important to follow the science.

“I know that there are some folks particularly in the U.S. Senate who are not wearing masks anymore and questioning CDC guidelines,” the chancellor told reporters. “We need to follow the CDC guidelines and encourage people to continue to wear a mask.”

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