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Worries for students in vet tech program continue


Visalia Times-Delta - August 24, 2012

A would be degree-granting program that was halted earlier this week by officials at the College of the Sequoias has students saying that the college misled them.

Five students this week and another back in February said in interviews that the college continued to reassure them that it would continue to pursue the accreditation process for its veterinary technician program in January once the college opened the doors of its Tulare Center Campus.

The move by college officials has left eight students in the program, which has consistently dwindled over the past years, without a plan moving forward in their college careers.

Amanda Barsoum, who has been in the Vet Tech program since 2009, said that she was told by the Jennifer La Serna, vice president of academic services to “finish up my general education classes and leave.”

“That was a huge, crushing blow,” Barsoum said.

She said that she was told that the best the college could do was to get her a late code to register for classes. But COS, like many California community colleges, has battled reduced course offerings and overcrowded classrooms. Competition for seats inside of general education classes is high.

“We had been told over and over again that the college was committed to the vet tech program,” she said.

“They waited too long to tell us. They waited two weeks into the semester to let us know. A lot of us were left without an option. COS said that they wanted to do this program. They gave us false hope. And the certificate program, that’s something different from what we were planning.”

The lack of accreditation does not affect the ability of the department to confer diplomas. However, students would be unable to sit for state and national licensing exams.

In a sit-down interview with then Interim President Brent Calvin and Dean of Academic Services in Agriculture Larry Dutto in March after the first st detailing the vet tech program, they maintained that the college never promised the students that they would graduate with an associate’s degree.

“Our position through this has been, that we like the Vet Tech program. And we are committed to seeing it, at some point, receive AVMA accreditation,” said Calvin, who went on to say, “The students felt like it was something that they had at some point. They never had that. It’s something that we pursued for a few years.”

He said that he understood the students’ disappointment.

“When the budget went so far south, we could have pulled the plug at that point and not even had the site visit [in the summer of 2011],” he said.

The site visit from the AVMA in September of last year, found that the program lacked a full-time coordinator and its facilities were not up to date in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. A report filled by AVMA made recommendations on a total of 16 areas the program needs to improve in order to gain accreditation.

“What we were offering was someone who could work 20 hours a week as coordinator and on top of that, work 10 hours a week in the class. We had our own way of trying to sell it to the AVMA. The AVMA did not believe that our commitment was there [for the program],” said Calvin, adding that the AVMA recognized that it wasn’t the right time for the college to be expanding programs