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Big Challenges, Achievable Solutions

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Academic Progress through Collective Responsibility

By Erik Squire

We at SMCC face some tough issues. Though we are a wonderful school, the largest community college in Maine, and offer the lowest tuition rates in New England, there are still some threats to the academic success of our student body. Consider, for example, these statistics offered by an SMCC survey in 2013: SMCC’s graduation rate falls at just 18%; the national rate is at 31%. SMCC’s retention rate for full time students is at 54%, and part time fall at 48%; the national retention rate is 59%. Lastly, the average GPA at SMCC is 2.52.

Clearly we are lacking in a few areas, but we are by no means hopeless. Here at SMCC there’re safety nets in place to help ensure the academic success for the students.

The Student Welfare Committee (SWC) is a committee that monitors the wellbeing of the student population. SWC is an official committee of the Student Senate. Though this committee is relatively new, its members are working fervently for the betterment of this school. They consider that the students here, as a whole, can achieve prosperous results through collaboration and determination.

The committee is currently working on a number of initiatives to improve the welfare of our student population, such as:
Tuition Coverage Policy – SWC is looking into expanding/brining more programs to help pay for college tuition: i.e. Path to Graduation; a program that pays tuition for a number of students with the requisite that they offer peer-mentoring the following semester.

Academic Welfare Policy – This is the biggest initiative that SWC is taking on. They are looking into creating a committee of outstanding professors to raise standards for instruction and implement best practices that engage students. The committee is also exploring ways to get more students to become peer-mentors for level 100 courses.
Sustainability Policy – SWC is researching the practicality of pushing SMCC to be more self-sustaining. They are currently working toward making the campus more composting-friendly. According to the Portland Press Harold, UMF and UMaine, recently purchased an advanced composting system called an “Earth Flow” (the size of a long thin garage) that aerates its waste into rich compost for campus use in 51 days flat. If SWC can effectively implement this sustainability policy, the horticulture program could also benefit from the nutrient rich soil.

College Food Policy – The Student Welfare Committee is also looking into providing affordable options at the Sea Wolves Café, as well as seeking additional healthier options on the menu. SWC believes that prices should reflect the budgets of the average student, considering it is offering its services on campus.

Furthermore, it has been noted that at certain times there’s a surplus of students who need assistance to an uneven ratio of tutors. SWC would like to either bring tutors from other locations, or expand the amount of SMCC’s tutors during peak hours (by means of soliciting volunteers or otherwise). They also seek to promote Smartthinking online tutoring; a free service that is available 24/7. The subjects Smartthinking offers are: math, business, science, and writing.
When asked what SMCC could do to help work towards progress, the Committee on student welfare had this to say to all students:

Despite all the challenges we face, we are adults, and as such we are responsible for our own success. What’s more important, we would even venture to say we are also responsible for the success of our team.
It may be difficult for some to look at a student body as being a team. Far too often, we see ourselves as individuals just trying to get by and make a better life for ourselves. We also tend to think that by happenstance we are working simultaneously, yet separately, with other students who want the same thing. However, a team is defined as those who “come together as a unit to achieve a common goal.” In the light of this definition, we at SMCC are in fact a team – a collection of students pursuant of the same goal, of a brighter future.

Even though there are measures being taken to progress this college, we all have an equal role to contribute in this process. We should all be communicating with the Student Senate, and even joining the Senate, to express our needs and desires. As it is, the Senate only has 3 out of a possible 20 student body representatives (the rest are club reps).
A team must have fully functioning members to succeed. We must all look for solutions, give as much effort as we can, and work together. Only then will we be able to face our challenges.

When we are in class we need to hold ourselves to higher standards, we need to offer our classmates assistance, and communicate with our teachers. When we’re at school we should get involved with a club, volunteer as a tutor, or give a hand at the Captain’s Cupboard. It is proven that when we become more involved on campus, we do better academically! Not to mention we will be happier! Yes, it is extra “work” that isn’t required of us, but we should expect this kind of effort from ourselves.

It is the difference between being okay with just skating by, and not accepting status-quo. Are you in?
Please bring your ideas, concerns, question, and answers to the Student Senate or the Student Welfare Committee. E-mail them at: swcsmcc@gmail.com

(The aforementioned national percentage rates apply to two year public colleges).

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