Student Voices Force a Paradigm Shift at the March Governing Board Meeting


Quinton Prunty

Illustration by Quinton Prunty

During February’s meeting, the, at the time, recently appointed District 4 representative, Richard W. Cassalata, brought forward a motion to shift the four day school week to five days. The board has not voted on this issue yet as further research is needed. Some of this research is sure to include the financial repercussions of returning to a five day work week, but what about the student interest to make this move considering the complex schedules many community college students juggle, which can include work, childcare, and significant travel distances?

The Cactus staff decided to proactively approach the situation with an old fashioned pen and paper survey, at CAC campuses. The survey simply asked students if we should change to a five day week. Students could mark yes or no, and give their reason why or why not. Surprisingly, many students were not aware of the consideration to move to a five day class schedule. 373 students participated in the survey. Of those 373 students, 309 voted no to the five day week. For many students, moving to a five day week would hinder their work schedule, or take away their day to catch up on homework. For others, Friday is the day students recuperate from the stressful week. Many said this change will either cut into their family time or the money they have to commute.

Of the 64 students that voted yes, many of the responses came to the same conclusion –student services such as the learning center and the library should be open on Fridays as a resource. Other students suggested 200 level classes or higher should be offered 3 days a week. Tutoring is already offered at Signal Peak Campus’ dorms and the Casa Grande Corporate Center Fridays and Saturdays. Classes are also offered on the weekend at the Corporate Center and at Superstition Mountain Campus. There are a few remaining options, and the decision to move to a five day work week for the rest of CAC seems to be most appropriate on a campus to campus basis, depending on the needs and wants of the students and the financial burden the move presents to the institution.

The Cactus staff presented this information in the “Call to the Public” portion of the March Governing Board meeting. The board, and the audience, seemed appreciative of the student activism put into this issue. None of the data could have been collected without you all, the students. We thank you.

The data shifted the paradigm, though unintentionally, and only slightly. Central Arizona College has to take into account the student activism on this issue. After the Cactus’s presentation of the data, other students present at the meeting came to the podium to give their opinion on the upcoming vote. This is a refreshing break from the monotonous rancor seen in previous board meetings. For the first time in months, a proactive approach to a pressing issue the college faces.

Recently, Rodney Haas of the Casa Grande Dispatch reached out to the Cactus Editorial Staff to get a sense of where the students rest on the issue after the March Governing Board Meeting, which will hopefully place the student’s voices out in the public sphere. His article outlines the basics of our interview. Ultimately, the college needs to collect more data to hold a proper vote on this issue. The poll taken by the Cactus was meant to be a first step in the right direction. The right question needs to be voted on. From the data, it is clear that the right question is not whether or not CAC should move to a five day work week. The community at large needs to rally behind the students if it truly wants to make a significant change at CAC. Mr. Cassalata brought this issue forth on behalf of his constituents. It would appear that the opinion of these constituents, though valid, remains in the minority.

The next board meeting will be held on April 19, 2016 at Central Arizona College’s Aravaipa Campus. Aravaipa Campus is definitely a trek, but students should still try to provide the board with input, as many did at the last meeting. The students hold incredible power at Central Arizona College, and with that great power comes a great burden to use it for the good of everyone – from Signal Peak to Aravaipa to Maricopa, San Tan, Superstition Mountain, and beyond. The Cactus staff looks forward to seeing as many students as possible.

As far as the poll is concerned, these numbers did not include every student, but the Cactus would love to get more input. If you would like to add your opinion, check out The Cactus website:, where the staff has set up the same survey online.} else {