Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Campus Mourns Phil Lopez

Phil Lopez

On the evening of December 14, Southwestern College lost one of its most visible icons. Philip Lopez, English professor and longtime union crusader, died of a sudden, massive heart attack minutes after being admitted to Sharp Hospital in Chula Vista. It was the day before his 65th birthday.

By all accounts his death was unexpected. He had spent the afternoon in what were described as successful negotiations between the faculty union and the college administration.

Kathleen Canney Lopez, professor of computer information systems who describes herself as “Phil’s former wife and his comrade,” said Lopez sat down at his Chula Vista home with a stack of paperwork. Feeling chest pains, he took aspirin and called 911. It took only minutes for the paramedics to arrive. He was rushed into the hospital and died there less than two minutes later.

“It was quick,” Canney Lopez said. “It was painless.”

Gay-Straight Alliance Works to Create Tolerance, Respect

It is a truth that many young people use college to examine their sense of identity for the first time. In doing so, some students explore their sexual identity and discover they cannot identify with a heterosexual lifestyle. Instead, they come to the realization that they are part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual) culture.

Realizing and accepting this proves difficult for many students. They often need a support web of friends and family that understand this situation. At Southwestern College, students will find the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is there to help them.

That is, of course, if the students can actually find where they meet.

Alan Wade, adjunct professor of English and the club’s faculty adviser, said that GSA met in a different room every semester and it was rarely ever the same place. He called it “room limbo.”

“We have to get a new room every time,” he said. “Though we do get one at some point. There has been trouble this semester with scheduling conflicts. Right now we meet in front of Jason’s coffee cart. That’s our place when we don’t have a place.”

Cost-Saving Measure May Reduce Library Hours

*By Nickolas Furr, Stephen Uhl, and Paulina Briseño

 On January 14, when students return to the Southwestern College campus for classes, they will find the library open 14 fewer hours than it is today. Due to brutal budget cuts and rampant state fiscal problems, the administration has been forced to cut the available hours for staff, and library personnel have been forced to close their doors earlier and keep them closed all weekend. As a result, frustration has begun to bloom in every campus group – students, classified employees, faculty members, administrators and the governing board. And now, frustration is beginning to blossom into full-blown anger.

But the anger is unfocused, with no one particular group for the others to be angry at.

In 2011, California community colleges suffered a $502 million cut to help staunch the loss of blood flowing from the state’s bank accounts. This past November, with another round of cuts looming – an additional $300 million statewide – voters passed Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to channel taxpayer money into funding schools and community colleges. This is expected to minimize the damage schools will take, but the fiscal ship can’t turn on a dime. It needs time to turn around. Until then, SWC will suffer another round of cuts, and the library remains a casualty of these cuts.

Humberto Peraza, SWC governing board vice president, said the damage could have been far worse, but it was still going to force changes.

“We went from a $12 million cut to a $6 million cut because of Prop 30, which has helped a lot,” he said. “But this is still significant. Almost everything we do, no matter what we do, a $6 million cut is going to directly impact students.”

Students Feel the Heat Waiting on Maintenance

It is not unusual for a Southwestern College maintenance request to sit for a few weeks or a month. An air conditioning issue in room 429, however, went for more than five years without resolution, causing faculty and students to get overheated.

Room 429, a reading classroom located in the Academic Success Center, has some folks hot under the collar.

John Brown, SWC’s facilities director, insists everything is taken care of. Faculty who use the sweltering room have taken a wait-and-see attitude.

“It appears there have been multiple and varied problems over the years with HVAC [Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning] in building 420, impacting room 429,” he said. “It appears maintenance had addressed those as they have come up, which is not unusual, and Dr. Levine is now personally satisfied with the current conditions.”

Dr. Joel Levine, dean of the School and Language and Literature, said he was not personally satisfied.

“I saw Gus [Frederick “Gus” Latham, maintenance supervisor] this morning and he’s not 100 percent satisfied,” Levine said. “He felt pretty good about it and thought they had taken care of it. But the test remains to see what it’s like after a lot of students had been in there for a while on a reasonably warm day.”
Levin, Latham and many others insist there is reason to be cynical after five-plus years of room 429 as a hot topic.