Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Comments and Letters

Oddly, online comments on yesterday's San Diego Union Tribune editorial, "Community colleges in a vise," seem to have disappeared. (The editorial itself is intact.) Also missing are two letters to the editor in support of the suspended professors.

Possibly, the online UT is undergoing some formatting changes, and the missing items are the result of a technical glitch. Not to worry. We were able to recover the items, and in the interests of helping out the UT, we present them here.

First, the letters:

San Diego Union-Tribune 31 October 2009: E3 cached at

Southwestern protest and faculty suspensions

The suspension of instructor Andrew Rempt and three other Southwestern College instructors on the same day they took part in a protest at Southwestern College over plans to cut course selections for the spring semester is unconstitutional because they were exercising their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

For the school to suspend them immediately after that protest smacks of a local college government ruled not by democratic principles but rather a pure dictatorship. A contradictory statement released by the college states: “The college respects, values and is committed to freedom of expression.”

What freedom of expression is the college talking about in this case? I guess it's the a 7.9 percent pay raise — expression of gratitude — that the governing board gave President Raj Chopra.

San Diego

Regarding the four faculty members suspended after a protest rally at Southwestern College:

It is surprising to note that today's colleges limit free speech to a “free speech area” of the campus. If we had done that in the '60s, we'd still be in Vietnam. Picture a map of the United States. That's your free speech area.

San Diego

Here are the comments on the UT editorial:

"Community colleges in a vise" comments, San Diego Union-Tribune 31 Oct. 2009 cached at
capitlaist_menace 1 day ago:

Does the UT not support free speech? Why does only Chopra's distorted view appear in your product of free speech? The SWC administration is asserting that on the SWC campus there is only a 300 square foot area where free speech is allowed and that outside that area anyone who does not lick the boots of the administration will be censured and placed under criminal investigation. What would Gandhi say? What would Jessie Jackson say?

ReadBooks 1 day ago:

Allow me to answer the one question regarding the number of students that can be served by existing transferable courses that Professor Andrew MacNeill, on the spot, could not. Last weekend, when the Spring 2010 schedule was made available, I went online and counted the number of sections available at SWC for transfer to a college in the CSU system. For simplicity of argument, I will use one class as an example.

I examined the course requirement for Oral Communication. No student can graduate from a CSU without completing and passing an Oral Communication course (one that includes formal training in public speaking). In Spring 2010, Southwestern College is only offering 34 class sections that meet this requirement (COMM 103 with 24 sections, COMM 104 with 3 sections, and COMM 174 with 7 sections).

Each of these classes serve 30 students (having more is not practical as students must give at least 3 speeches each which, time-wise, takes up to at least 8 weeks of a semester). 34 classes can serve 1020 students.

There are 22,000 students enrolled at SWC. According to a statement made by Angelica Suarez, Vice President for Student Affairs, 80% of SWC's students plan to transfer to a university. While I do not have the numbers on how many want to transfer specifically to a CSU, my guess is that at least half of that 80% (most likely more) plan to transfer to a CSU.

So, for argument's sake, let's say we have 6000 (and I believe this number is generously low) who need an Oral Communication class. This semester SWC can serve 1020 of them. When Fall 2010 rolls around, there will be 4980 students who still need the course.

Match them with the thousands of new students who will enter SWC in Fall 2010, and their problem is compounded. Not only are they competing for 1020 slots against the people 4980 left over from Spring 2010, but the new folks for Fall 2010 will be added to the equation. Let's say SWC has 4000 new students enter the college in Fall 2010 who plan to transfer to a CSU, there will be 8,980 students competing for only 1020 slots.

For comparison, I looked up what other community colleges in the area were offering in Spring 2010 to satisfy the Oral Communication requirement for transfer a CSU. When I checked, only Grossmont/Cuyamaca and Palomar had their offerings available.
Grosmont/Cuyamaca offers 57 class sections.
Palomar offers 47 sections.

How bad is the situation regarding cuts to CSU transferable courses at SWC? You might want to do the calculations. Add the problem of getting the Oral Communication course needed for transfer to these additional mandatory transfer courses:
Math - a total of 32 course sections are available at SWC.
English 115 - a total for 46 course sections available are available at SWC.
Critical Thinking (COMM 160, English 116, and Phil 103) - a total of 31 course sections available at SWC.

I hope Dr. Chopra can reinstate the 50 class sections mentioned above that SWC students desperately need to the Spring 2010 schedule. In my opinion, transferable courses have been cut back way too far. If my calculations above are correct, right now, students only have about a 1 in 9 chance of even getting into transferable courses they need. Does this also translate to only having only a 1 in 9 chance of transferring to a CSU?

areyououtraged 1 day ago:

Check out Southwestern College's "transparency." All instructors' names have been deleted from the spring schedule:

ayayay 1 day ago:

Trick or treat! This is a Halloween prank, right? The UT trying to bump its circulation by being like The Onion, or more accurately The National Enquirer?

Your editorial board really needs to do its homework and stop taking everything Chopra says at face value. The guy is a carpetbagger who goes from district to district, padding his salary and leaving disaster in his wake.

Get some facts: No one is talking about "draining the reserves." The reserves far exceed state recommendations, and it's a travesty to cut classes while so much money sits in the bank. Faculty already volunteered to take a pay cut, but Chop said no. Obviously, doing otherwise could have put some pressure on him to give up his recent $15,000 raise.

I'm also not sure why you would expect a chair to know anything about the capacity in a completely different department, but I can tell you this: You guys just flunked English 116, Composition and Critical Thinking.

For real info, go to

Concerned_Father 23 hours ago:

Wow this editor is obviously a good friend of Raj! This is one of the articles that I was talking about in my last post, No Name for the author! Are we to believe that this is really the view of the UT? I would hope not! This is one of the worst articles that I have ever read in regards to balance! I have been reading as much as I can about Raj & his "friends in high places" and I feel that this editor is one of them! Look around you Mister or Ms Editor, do you see anyone else supporting this Idiot of a president? The answer is NO for a good reason, he stinks! Better regroup with your people and get the facts straight! Try talking with Maureen Magee, she seems to present Raj in a much more balanced light than you do "Buddy"! Get some Balance and "report the facts", not a drummed up view of how Raj would like the "smarter than you think Public" to believe this direct assault on our Kids and adult Students is the best course of action. From what I understand the Administration is not losing any positions, on the contrary, Raj is hiring former employees of the UT. Maybe you'll be one of them soon!

People, Please Speak Up about this highly slanted article! Wow I can't believe they printed it!!! Amazing what "Someone" without the fortitude to put their name on it can get into the public view!

Concerned_Father 23 hours ago:

If this unbalanced reporting continues, I am canceling my subscription to your paper! Where is Maureen Magee?

notsonormalmom 22 hours ago:

This editorial is a joke. Whoever wrote this is obviously not doing his/her research. Also, he/she is not paying attention to all of the other news outlets shouting the truth.

I wish I had more to say about how pathetic this piece is, but I'm just speechless.


  1. Hi there -
    We relaunced our redesigned site over the weekend and are having some technological problems we're working to fix. Please be patient and rest assured we know how important our pages are to the region -- and to readers like you.
    TThanks for your interest,

    Tom Mallory
    Content director/online editor
    SignOn San Diego/San Diego Union-Tribune

  2. If readers like us are really important, then the name of whomever wrote this drivel should be posted as well!