As if being deemed a territory amongst 50 states isn’t enough, Washington, DC is also solely without a community college. The University of the District of Columbia, the nation’s only urban land grant institution, has been working on changing that.
Ever since the January 13, announcement for a community college, discussions for and in opposition to UDC’s effort have taken place. UDC student, Owen Long, said he is not convinced that the community college will benefit the District.
“UDC has too many problems as is, it is not what it used to be,” said Long.
UDC art professor, Meredith Rode, said the university has had much undeserved bad press for years. Rode has been working at the university since 1968, when it was Federal City College, she believes the bad press stems from the initial merger of the two and four year programs, of Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute.
“This is a very important action in the life of the university and the emphasis on the community college should not blur the efforts to enhance the academic standing of the four-year offerings,” said Rode
Julie Johnson, deputy director of the community college initiative, at UDC said they realize a lot of people want what is best for the community college. That is why some are excited, while others are voicing their concerns hoping that it is done in the right way.
“What it boils down to is people are not getting incentives to go, UDC has one of the highest drop out rates,” Long said.
Professor Rode said that she believes the community college will provide a much clearer picture of the offerings of public higher education in the District.
“More students will understand the offerings and apply,” she said. Meanwhile, there are still issues that the university and civic leaders will sort out, such as whether or not the community college should be separate from the university.
The D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice has been helping with the effort; they have yet to take a position on this particular issue.
According to Director, Walter Smith, “Our July report will have a lot more to say,recommendations, what UDC’s role might be, whatever ends up being the right position,” he said.
Smith recently attended a City Council meeting, where he called for government investment in the planning efforts.
“New UDC president, Allen Sessom needs as much expertise as possible, we proposed a half a million dollar of the DC budget for 2010,”said Smith.