Pierce Pioneer

Highs and lows of quarantined mental health

Students have had their share of mental ups and downs during quarantine and though some saw the lockdown optimistically others weren’t so sure how to feel.

Having an extrovert or introvert personality had an impact on the mental stability of students as they managed schedules, family, friends, work and solitude. 

“It’s a rollercoaster, where it kind of depends on what I am thinking about,” said Zakariah Swanson ASPCP president of Puyallup student life. “If I can look at the silver lining or not.” 

College life is never really stress free even for the “best” student. There are students that are faced with more than just the usual issues and have added strain due to already having underlying mental health concerns.

“Every day felt like bricks on my chest, the amount of stress I felt,” said Vanessa Garcia, student engagement coordinator. 

Garcia was candid and revealed she has Asperger’s Syndrome and told of the difficulty she was faced with during the pandemic. She also said her favorite part about the quarantine was getting to wear sweatpants for events.

Some students looked at what was lost but also looked at what could be gained. Still the longer it went on the more tiring and the less motivated students were to put up with the status quo.

“The pandemic amplified my mental health,” said Nathan Haueter, student organizations coordinator. “When I was doing really good it made it even better and when I was doing bad it made it worse.”

Finding a solution to manage the highs and lows of mental health seems to rely on relationships and being around people for the motivation to do good. Not having the usual net of people around has made the pandemic more difficult for some students while others were able to stay motivated.

“Celebrate small victories,” said Madison Rannow, vice president of student organizations, commenting on what she would likely tell her past self before the pandemic.

Looking back, many students will have learned many different lessons through diverse struggles, each as hard in its own way as the other. The world turned small for students, both foreign and domestic and all the possibilities that once were within reach were somehow taken and placed a little further out of reach.

Equity Diversity and Inclusion Senator Jessica Xu, finds having an adaptive mentality to be beneficial. Being an international student who has not been able to go home in over a year has built frustration, especially not being able to have family around as a support system.

For some students, the pandemic felt easy at first but harder as it went on. Time out of school kept expanding and became more strenuous. Along the way most students learned to not be hard on themselves and found a way to thrive in the midst of this moment in history.  

“I got used to it and got into a system where my mental health is not based on the circumstances, but on what I decide it to be,” said Karen Nunex-Michel, vice president of activities board.

 


Things to Do This Summer

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes new Vice President

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes its new Vice President of Learning and Student Success, Dr. Ilder Andres Betancourt Lopez, following an email announcement from PCFS’s President Julie White on June 3. Lopez is expected to join our Pierce community come August 2, 2021.

“[Lopez] brings a wealth of expertise to our work to create an anti-racist institution, in order to fulfill our mission at Pierce College: to provide quality educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world,” White stated.

White further shares in an email announcement a biography provided by Lopez himself, which gives more insight into our new vice president. From his biography, it states that Lopez grew up in an impoverished area in Los Angeles, being born from undocumented, Latino immigrants.

“When Ilder entered Stanford University, he felt blessed but he also wondered how to best maximize the privilege,” White stated. “A career in the community colleges became the obvious answer. It was and still is the nexus of opportunity for many of his family members and peers.

“Throughout his career, Ilder applies an equity and social justice lens to all his leadership decisions. Ilder believes it is not our students that need to change but the institution that can change to better address the issues faced by our students. He has devoted his career working at the community college to fulfill this philosophy.”

Lopez is currently the Dean of Science at Bellevue College, where he has developed and overseen their division’s efforts to provide learning opportunities during the COVID pandemic. Some of Lopez’s work also includes providing culturally responsive teaching and services training to all employees through a partnership with Bellevue College and the national Puente Project.

Pierce College looks forward to welcoming its new vice president with open arms. In due time, students and staff alike will be able to get to know Lopez more personally as he becomes a part of the Pierce community.

The student media teams are searching for creative co-workers.

It’s great opportunity for someone looking for part-time employment within the college that offers a flexible schedule. Students who work for the media teams will bring new voices to publications to give us fresh perspectives.

This is a work-from-home opportunity until campus reopens.

  • Starting pay: $13.94/hr
  • Starting hours: 10-15hrs/week

Positions begin in late August and will continue throughout the 2021-22 school year.

Positions Available:

Online Manager: The student responsible for the look and content on the website.

Social Media Manager: The student who creates the content for the social platforms.

Writers: The students who research, interview, and write stories.

Requirements:

Team members need to take 10 credits each quarter from fall to spring and maintain a 2.7 grade point average.

Contact adviser Teresa Josten at [email protected] for more information or detailed job position descriptions.

APPLICATIONS DUE MONDAY, MAY 24.
APPLY TODAY.

Students and professors share their experiences switching from in-person classrooms to fully virtual learning one year after the fact

On March 16, 2020 Pierce College closed its campuses to students following the sudden uprising of COVID-19 cases in Washington State. One year later, Pierce College has proceeded to do its teaching virtually. 

Announcements to continue in person teaching have since been extended to a small number of classes for Fall 2021. As Pierce prepares to bring students back to campus step by step, and other campuses and school districts begin to open their doors, many students and staff at Pierce feel as though the overall transition from being in person to fully online was mostly successful. 

While some issues regarding communication and overall engagement brought mixed feelings for some, the general consensus seemed positive, with part of this being due to the accommodations made by professors. For Jade Dickinson, writing tutor and Running Start senior, she’s felt that Pierce College has done the best they could do, given the circumstances.

“Pierce and its professors have a strong commitment to quality,” Dickinson said. “I find that I have still been learning in my online classes and that most of the professors that I’ve come across have been really understanding. [However] I know that’s not the case for every professor.”

Dickinson can recall earlier March of 2020 when Pierce first closed its campuses and transitioned to online learning. “At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was really really confused—including Pierce,” Dickinson said. 

“I remember, we actually went online four days before classes ended and I had to do my last week of classes online. I think there was just so much fear around what could happen and we didn’t know anything about the virus. We barely knew how it spread, and we didn’t even have a mask mandate at that point.”

Mika Asiag, another Running Start student, also thought Pierce handled it well but felt that not everyone likes online learning and would have preferred other methods instead of fully online classes.

“I think they honestly could have done hybrid,” Asiag said. “I just feel like not everyone likes online learning—especially me. I hate online learning, and it’s hard for me to grasp ideas when [I] have to learn on [my] own.”

Students were not the only ones affected by the switch to online. For math professor Claire Gibbons, Ph.D., she’s been trying to view the whole ordeal in a positive light, not just for herself, but for those around her as well. “I think if I have the privilege, that I need to be using that to make a good situation out of this,” Gibbons said.

“If I’m just kind of feeling bad for myself—when I actually have so much—I don’t think that is the right way to handle it. The empathy that I can feel for my coworkers who are going through this I can try to share with my students, because my students also might have things going on at home—they might have kids, they might have jobs. I have lots of stuff that’s been impacted,so to be warm and understanding of that is good I think.”

Gibbons shared how a small disconnect between admin and higher-ups and the actual experience of faculty in their classes felt present at times. Overall though, Gibbons is grateful that Pierce was able to provide the needed support for this transition. “I think that [the higher-ups have] done a lot, especially with transparent communication and trying to be as supportive as possible; so I’ve been overall really impressed, personally.”

For math professor Cody Fouts, this was his first time having to teach full time online. Fouts had to adapt his class to online, as he’s been attempting to find different methods of teaching that may help his future students.

“I actually, prior to the beginning of the pandemic, had no desire to teach online because I think that one of my strengths as an educator and a teacher is in-person interactions with students, and I thought that was gonna be really hard to replicate online—, which has been true,” Fouts said.

For Fouts, getting students to register to the proper locations for his class, such as WAMAP, proved to be a small issue, as Pierce’s primary work-space for students is Canvas. But one thing in particular that has been difficult for Fouts has been interpersonal relationships with students and being available to his students while juggling his schedule.

“I think one of my biggest struggles as an educator—online or not—is trying to meet all students where they’re at, but I also want to keep myself in mind,” Fouts said. “I have things that I want to do in the evenings and weekends too that are not work. And it’s not that I don’t care about my students; I just only have so much time during the week.”

For Dickinson, she felt as though the school should do more to make their basic information more visible to students. Dickinson further said how she thinks sometimes info needs to be shoved in peoples’ faces.

“I think they’re doing a great job and making the right decisions personally, but just remind students through email [and] Canvas when tuition is due, when registration starts and any other important dates they should know about instead of relying on the students themselves to look in the handbook or look in the calendar,” Dickinson said.

For Fouts, what he felt could have been done differently had less to do with Pierce and more to do with himself personally. “I don’t know [if] I would have been as optimistic that things were going to be as short lived as they were,” Fouts said.

“I also would have really sought out more resources for how to effectively facilitate an online course. I think again during those first initial quarters, [it] was in my mind [that] all this was still very temporary, so I was still trying to do a very similar version of what I do in person; I was trying to do that online.”

Pierce has been trying their best given the situation. A year ago they were scrambling to move everything online as soon as they could. Some people understandably disliked online learning; others have tried to make the best of it despite the isolation. One thing Fouts misses most about in-person learning includes the simple “good mornings” and the relationships that could be built from getting to know students personally. 

 

“You just know that when you’re seeing someone every day or even every couple of days you get to know things about their lives,” Fouts said. “You know maybe their families or things they’re looking forward to, or even just why students are in school, and then [you’re] able to ask them about that,” Fouts said.

 

“I am really goofy and silly in the way that I teach generally and so I really miss being able to do that every day with my students and see the look on their faces when they roll their eyes at my stupid math and dad jokes.”

Pierce has been in quarantine for over a year now with signs of returning to campus in Fall 2021. If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s to not take things for granted and the importance of compassion. 

Reach out to people; no one is above burnout. Find little things to be grateful for—they exist everywhere. Be proud for making it an entire year.

EDI Cares Student of Color Empowerment Summit

On Feb. 25 and 26 students took time out of their evenings to enjoy a moment of positive thinking and self-improvement with Pierce College’s EDI Cares community. TheEquity, Diversity, and Inclusion College Access, Retention, and Engagement Services seeks to empower students to achieve their academic, professional, and life goals, according to their official page on the Pierce College site.

 

This mission is profoundly evident when attending their Students of Color Empowerment Summit, which provided holistic support and self-improvement methodology that is incredibly valued in our trying times.

 

The event was primarily hosted by the associate director of EDI Cares, Ciera Graham, and had a mission statement of discovering the power of you. EDI Cares seeks to build a structure that sees and hears students and how when nobody else is around for support, you will always have yourself. This is often not available to students of color at primarily white institutions.

 

For many students of color at Pierce College, the past 12 months have represented a period of bitter social unrest and political turmoil, which could be further compounded by the stress of starting a new school or re-adjusting to life on a digital platform. 

 

With a wide array of activities, from lessons on criminal justice to talent shows that demonstrate the multi-faceted creativity of the black diaspora, the empowerment summit’s strongest power is that it managed to balance moments of light-heartedness and fun with earnest stories of loss and the power of fighting on.

 

The event opened with an icebreaker from Pierce College’s community engagement specialist, Kiana Fuega. Each participating audience member was asked to name their real-life superpowers, before transitioning into words from EDI Cares Vice President, Charlie Parker. This was to demonstrate how we are people with multiple purposes on this Earth, and that our superpowers are not solely individual, but developed through lived experience. 

 

The other primary focus of the event was wellness and the things that we do to preserve our purpose and have conversations with ourselves. They developed the idea of Habits of Excellence , which refers to the actions that you take in your life that improve your physical and mental well-being.

 

The event coordinators used a mixture of fun and lighthearted activities, such as giving yourself a theme song or taking selfies to appreciate your image, with earnest expressions and stories of mental health struggles and rejuvenation. The result is a presentation event that is incredibly accessible to students at Pierce and representative of a minority group that is deserving of a safe space and community at Pierce College.

By the end of the event, students were left feeling more powerful and capable of taking on the world than they had before. The 31st Annual Students of Color Conference — “Hear Our Voices: Resilience Powered Change” will take place Thursday April 15 from 11am-3pm and April 16 from 10am- 6pm. More information can be found on their FaceBook, linked here.

Vice President of Learning and Student Success Debra Gilchrist parts ways with Pierce College after 30 years

Pierce College president Julie White announced March 3 over email that on June 30 will say good-bye to Debra Gilchrist, who is retiring after 30 years of service to the school. 

As the vice president of learning and student success for the last 9 years, Gilchrist has continued to gain the respect of her colleagues through her dedication to excellence.

“Throughout her time, she led the re-visioning of the library into an award-winning program, guided us through successful accreditations with the NWCCU, and collaborated on a district-wide model of academic leadership,” White stated. “Deb has been a strong, quiet, persistent voice for continual improvement.”

White commented on the difficulty to replace Gilchrist’s role as vice president for learning and student success, but the search for a successor will begin and the announcement will be given in the near future.

“Please join me in wishing Deb the very best,” White stated. “We will be sure to celebrate and wish her well before June 30.”

Free virtual training on Feb. 6

A statewide summit welcomes college students to share stories and discuss equal access to education with state legislators. A free virtual training will occur on Feb. 6 to prepare students for their upcoming meeting with legislators. Students from different colleges and motivational speakers will be present during this virtual event. Lunch will be provided through Doordash and students will be mailed a gift bag if registered by Jan. 27. Vanessa Primer, the student liaison for WA-SEN at Pierce College requested that students registered for the event email her at [email protected]. Students can register at WA-SEN Olympia Days Summit until Feb. 4. The Independent Colleges of Washington organization created The Washington Student Engagement Networks alongside community and technical colleges to bring students together and talk about issues affecting colleges around Washington. WA-SEN hosted its first event in Olympia December 2017 to engage conversation with legislators with matters concerning higher education.

See how canceling the 2020 season has affected the baseball program

In baseball, someone who fails 70 percent of the time is considered elite. Yet failing only 70 percent of the time calls for hundreds of hours dedicating yourself to the game. For all the time spent in the batting cage, on the field, and in the gym, you typically get three at-bats to show for it.
However, imagine having no chance to show off your hard work, and the opportunity to prove yourself is taken away. During the troubled times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom baseball program was deprived of one thing they loved most - baseball.
On March 17, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of the 2020 season for all spring sports programs. Pierce College Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson remained sympathetic to the student-athletes that he worked with.
“My initial reaction to the cancelation was a sense of devastation for our student-athletes,” he said. “Not just for this lost season, and this year’s training and preparation, but for the years of time and sacrifice they and their families have invested in getting to this point.”
According to Stevenson, over the last three decades as Pierce’s athletic director, he has never experienced anything like the COVID-19 Pandemic. The feeling of devastation extended to the program’s coaches and players. Yet, the program remained optimistic as the players began to plan for their futures and the next season.
“Within a day or two of the announcement of the decision, their spirits really turned around, especially as the enormous scope of the national and global situation became more apparent,” Stevenson said.
“They quickly switched gears from being frustrated about the lost season, to making plans for spring quarter classes and looking at options for next year. I am really proud of how resilient they have been through all of this.”
As announced online by the Northwest Athletic Conference, freshman and sophomores enrolled during the 2020 season would remain the same grade athletically for the next season. This would apply to all athletes regardless of the number of games played during the spring season.
Moreover, the sophomores have a big decision to make on where they will play during the 2020 season. Stevenson realized that the baseball program will never get this season back. “For some, this will be the end of their competitive careers,” he said. “As an athlete, you want to go out on your own terms –in the arena of competition. For those that return next year or move on to play at a four-year college [or] university, this will always be their lost season; It is really heart-breaking.”
Pierce’s baseball coach, Kevin Davis, was also crushed by the cancellation of the 2020 season. He knew what this season meant to the sophomores, as he was once in their shoes after finishing his sophomore baseball season at Bellevue College.

“I feel for the sophomores who worked their whole life for this and don't have anything to show for it,” he said. “I also feel for the freshmen who got their first chance at college ball and had that taken away.”
The NWAC was not the first conference to cancel the season, according to Davis. The decision to cancel the 2020 season followed similar decisions by four-year universities in the NCAA. Tournaments such as the NCAA College Baseball World Series and NCAA Basketball were canceled ahead of the NWAC’s decision in March.
Since the spring season ended, the program’s players have kept in touch and continue to train on their own time. “They have been doing home workouts, playing catch together when they can, and we have weekly zoom sessions to goof around and keep in touch,” Davis said.
The team now endures a long offseason where they plan to start their fall season as planned. Next season, they will have the possibility to have a first-ever season with three classes of players. This would include incoming freshman, returning freshman, and third-year sophomores.
Riley Paulino, a freshman pitcher who plans to return for next season, was let down by the cancelation and empathized with his sophomore teammates. “I was very disappointed because I felt that we had a really good group of guys all pulling towards one goal,” he said. “I also felt for the sophomores because, for some, this marked the end of their careers. It hurt me to witness their last season go down like that.”
Even though the rest of the spring 2020 season was canceled, the team was able to play 12 games out of the 45-game season. Paulino, who led the team in strikeouts, said his teammates were what made the short season and preparation worth it.
“My favorite part of this last season has to be the countless hours that I have spent grinding day in and day out with this group of guys,” Paulino said. “There is nothing like having 30 guys you know would run through a wall for you. This makes us push each other harder because we truly care about the success of each other.”

Hunter Bungert/ Photo Illustration

Cody Russell, a sophomore shortstop who is continuing his playing career at Washington State University, is only one of a few sophomores who knows where they are playing next season. According to Russell, he received the news of the canceled season during a meeting with this team.
“At first I was really shocked,” Russell said. “I didn’t really think it was true. It probably took me a week for it to click in; I’m not going to be completing my sophomore season up here.”
Since Russell has a sense of direction to work towards, he started his off-season early in preparations for his jump to division one baseball. But with no facilities and teams to practice with, it has been difficult to train for the next step in his career.
“It’s tough; we don't really have gyms right now,” he said. “So, we've got a little setup in our garage; my brother and I are lifting almost every day, hitting at the cages, playing long toss, and running. Just all the normal things that you can try and do without having a school gym or whatever we had before this whole thing happened.”
Additionally, Russell will be joining his brother at WSU, who is a freshman. He looks forward to the opportunity to play at the highest level with his brother. “I’m playing with my brother, what else could I really ask for?” he said. “It’s D1 baseball with your brother; It’s kind of a dream come true for both of us. I’m pumped, I can’t wait to get down there, get rolling and get with the team.”
With his junior college career at an end, Russell embarked on what he will remember most about playing for Pierce. “The grind, the attitude, and the culture that coach Davis built around the team was the coolest thing,” he said. “It was crazy how last year it was two different teams. This year it was like we were brothers, everyone was so close, hung out almost every day; everyone had classes with each other. The energy that the team brought was so different, I think that would have taken us a lot farther than last year.”
According to Russell, the majority of sophomores remain unsure about the next step in their baseball journey. Yet, the team continues to express optimism in the pursuit to play baseball for a four-year university. Only time will tell where they will end up and how the program rebounds from a canceled season.
With no way of making up the canceled season, the program endures a long off season to improve individually. COVID-19 guidelines make it hard to train as a team and each player’s commitment will be tested in preparation for the fall season. Even with a pandemic limiting the access to facilities and players, it won’t stop the program from striving to challenge themselves everyday. The program's sense of resilience will push them through quarantine and prepare for another season as a Pierce College Raider.

Pierce faculty persist through the online transition

Jezreel Proo Staff illustrator

Math professor Judy Petkovsek endured her first quarter of online classes at Pierce College. 

Petkovsek taught one online class in previous quarters at Tacoma Community College, which gave her familiarity with online courses. However, in preparation for the spring quarter, she remained concerned for the students who believed that math could only be learned in a classroom. “My biggest fear was teaching online to students who didn’t want to take online courses,” Petkovsek said.

In April, all Pierce College classes moved online. The spring quarter of 2020 marked the first time that many teachers experienced online classes, which required faculty to adapt to a mandatory virtual environment. With Canvas, teachers could reach students through an established platform that allowed for a smooth transition online.

Petkovsek is one of many professors at Pierce College who had to adjust to teaching students virtually, rather than in person. With online classes being mandatory, the amount of productivity and self-motivation of students may be in question.

“I was teaching students who signed up for online classes, and they knew what they were getting into; they knew they had to be self-motivated, and they knew they had to work hard at this on their own.”

Petkovsek noticed a small drop in the productivity amongst her students, however, but more so in the likeness and reason for taking her class. For her Math and Society class, she witnessed a drop in productivity due to the sense that this would be her student’s only math class taken while at Pierce.

On the other hand, her Precalculus II students’ productivity either stayed the same as previous grounded classes or rose. Petkovsek mentions that these students are going into the STEM field, which requires a higher level of mathematics. “They seemed really motivated and very self-driven,” Petkovsek said. “I gave them a little bit of support, and they go and take it very far.”

English professor Kayla Pohl taught English 101 for the first time online this quarter. According to Pohl, she had experience with teaching online classes in the past, but worried for the students who may not have the resources to transition to online. 

“When you just switch everyone to online, the issue is that there are already so many inequities among Pierce college students,” she said. “There are racial inequities and financial inequities, so you have some students that just don’t have the resources to be able to do online learning.”

Virtual streaming platforms such as Zoom played a vital role in the ability to speak with students in real-time. The use of the service was not required by Pierce College, as teachers had the opportunity to host asynchronous or synchronous classes. This gave more flexibility with class schedules and allowed students to complete schoolwork outside the designated class hour.

To better serve these inequities and adapt to a virtual platform, Pohl had to change her curriculum by conforming to daily lesson plans. “Every quarter, I change a little bit based on feedback from students,” she said. “But this quarter especially was about cutting down anything unnecessary or anything that just doesn’t work well in an online format.”

Changing the format of her lesson plan meant less time to teach topics that would have required longer than a small fraction of class time. “Research says that you have to keep videos as short as possible, no more than like five or ten minutes,” she said. “I mean eventually you’re going to get down to trying to deliver content in a Tik Tok format. How am I going to translate Rhetorical Theory to a quick five-minute conversation? Not easy.”

Pohl devoted time to discussions and group activities in grounded classes, but online classes have made it harder to replicate that in an online environment. According to Pohl, an asynchronous classroom is best for an online format, where people with jobs or other outside devotions have more flexibility in the classroom. 

Yet, this quarter, she and Petkovsek noticed a small decrease in student productivity. Despite some of the difficulties professors face, many remain optimistic and determined to see this quarter through.

To help ensure productivity and connections with her students, Petkovsek used Zoom to record lectures in real-time and required weekly attendance phone calls. Petkovsek saw weekly phone calls as an opportunity to connect with students and solve any difficulties with the class. 

“I check in with them once a week for what obstacles they’re having, that week or any struggles they’re having for the week,” she said. “I check in on their grades and, if I see a grade that is low or if they missed our homework assignment, I talk to them about it.”

Likewise, Pohl also contacted her students, who may have been falling behind. “I can’t get in contact with those students like I normally could,” she said. “I’ve been emailing and messaging in Canvas as much as possible to try to reach out to these students and tell them; it’s okay if you miss an assignment, turn it in late, just don’t stop; try to keep going.”

Along with communicating outside of class, allowing students to access daily Zoom recordings at any time of the day gave Petkovsek’s students more flexibility. The Zoom meetings could be watched multiple times a day, unlike a grounded classroom. According to Petkovsek, classroom interactions were still important, even though it is more difficult in a Zoom meeting. 

“I tried to make it as much of a classroom experience as possible before class starts,” she said. “I try to do small talk, like, ‘How was your weekend? What’s going on?’ I get students to kind of get to know each other, and I get to know my students.”

According to Petkovsek, using Zoom for the first time online at Pierce, brought forth difficulties with the storage and memory of the recorded videos. Many teachers experienced challenges with the limits to a non-professional Zoom account that restricted meetings to 40 minutes long. But with help from Pierce College’s E-Learning Center, the transition was smoother. “It’s been nice because we’ve gotten a lot of those bumps and bruises kind of work through so that didn’t happen the next quarter; it all kind of goes a little smoother.”

During either a grounded or online class, asynchronous or synchronous, Pohl pointed to the reason she enjoys teaching English at Pierce. “Just coaching students so they can say the things they want to say and participate in the communities that they want to participate in.”

With a quarter of online classes coming to a close, Pierce College faculty adjusted to a virtual environment on short notice. They gave students the ability to succeed at home and worked diligently to connect with students outside of class. Going forward, Pierce has an improved understanding of online courses and prepares for possibly two more quarters of social distancing. 

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Pierce College prepares for potential budget cuts due to a wide state fund decline.

On May 11, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson sent out a mass email stating that Pierce College will be experiencing budget cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. As a response, the college is preparing a budget development process that is taking place over the next few months.

Pierce College braces for budget cuts as high as 20 percent. While that percent only accounts for less than half of Pierce’s revenue, according to Johnson, that still is a 10 percent reduction, adding up to around $6 million.

“This work will be difficult and unfortunately, painful,” Johnson stated. “There is no way to handle revenue declines of this magnitude without pain. Departments throughout the college will need to rethink and retool their entire operation.”

Along with Pierce College, multiple other state agencies could face general fund reductions of 15 to 20 percent or higher. This is due to a large decline in Washington State’s general fund revenue. 

“Currently, state officials and legislators are still trying to understand the full extent of the issue,” Johnson stated. “But preliminary forecasting by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council points to a very large decline in revenue that started in March and could continue for several years.”

Pierce College has made a temporary plan, in hopes of getting the college’s budget through the summer and parts of fall. “Over the next few weeks, the Budget Team and the Budget Planning Groups will be working on ideas and concepts to build a temporary spending plan to present to the Board of Trustees in June,” Johnson stated. “The proposed budget will be reviewed by the District Cabinet and presented to the Board of Trustees in October for approval.”

The Budget Team is currently formed around large groups of departments and divisions throughout the district, including Instruction, Student Services, Self-Support Programs, Facilities/Safety, and Institutional Support Services, as stated by Johnson.

Many questions still remain, such as what departments will be affected by these budget cuts the most, as well as programs or student resources. However, as the months go by, Johnson assures staff that Pierce will continue to answer questions and address the situation.

“The Budget Team and college leadership will continue to share information, involve constituents, and be open and transparent in this process.”

Struggles of Taking Virtual Classroom

Because Coronavirus has spread out in the United States, many school decided moving to online classes. It has been 5 weeks since Pierce College started virtual class for entire spring quarter. Today, pioneer staff interviews students about how they feel about taking virtual classes for the first time. We interviews students from Pierce College, University of Washington, Hunter College in NYC. We will have three videos about thoughts of virtual classroom.

Videographer: Joy Kim

Editor: Kotone Ochiai

Future Image: Ciara William

 

Video by Coverr-Free-Footage from Pixabay 

Video by Vimeo-Free-Videos from Pixabay 

 

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