Friday, October 26, 2007

Do the Community College Students Know This About Themselves?

As I've mentioned before, it is fairly difficult to get me really ticked off. Well, I'm ticked off. I am not, nor have I ever really been a fan of the Oregonian, so I really don't pay attention to it, unless I have to. This editorial by Oregonian staff member Paige Parker (isn't that a movie character?) was brought to my attention today and I gotta tell ya, I'm hot! Parker's editorial is on a proposed smoking ban that has been a contentious issue at colleges around the state over the last year. I experienced that turmoil. It is a major issue on community college campuses. I still haven't made up my own mind about it. However, that's not the point. My problem with what Parker has to say is in how she chooses to characterize community college students (emphasis mine).

Typical Oregon smokers -- poor, young, with little or no advanced education -- look much like the typical community college student, one reason tobacco foes are pressing the state's campuses to ban smoking outright.

Let me just say right off, that I graduated from Portland Community College last June, and transferred to Portland State. I am 41 years old, am poor only because I choose to be a student right now, and with the current associate's degree that I hold, am better educated than half the citizens of this country. And guess what? As far as PCC, where the average student age is 34, and the state of Oregon, where half of all university students spend at least some portion of their freshman year at a community college, is concerned, I'm an average student! In a letter to the Oregonian, I responded, noting some of those above-mentioned factoids:

Parker's blanket assumptions and generalities about who community college students are is beyond insulting, not to mention incorrect. I graduated from PCC in June. I am 41 years old, poor simply because I choose to be a student at this time, and with the associate’s degree that I currently hold, am more educated than over half of this country’s population. I have to wonder if the nearly 400,000 other community college students in Oregon consider themselves to be young, poor, and lacking in advanced education. Do the 50% of Oregon's university students who attended a community college classify themselves this way? At Portland Community College, where the average student is 34 years old, do they see themselves according to Parker's criteria? Better yet, do all of the business and community partners that rely on our community colleges to provide skilled and advanced work capabilities hold students in such low esteem? Somehow I doubt it. I might have expected such an offensive, cliché-ridden editorial regarding community colleges in my home state of Texas, but here in Oregon, where community colleges tend to be respected for their contributions to our state, I am disappointed, to say the least.

To say the least.span>

No comments: