Category Archives: News

SCCC enrollment expected to continue decline

According to Suffolk County Community College’s fall semester 10-year enrollment report, since 2016, enrollment at the college has dropped by 4.3 percent to about 26,000.

And it does’t look like the trend is going to change any time soon.

Katherine Aguirre, Suffolk’s director of admissions, pointed to a decline in birthrates as “the greatest impact in enrollment.”

“Families with fewer children that filter into the K-12 system will cause a decrease in graduating class sizes,” she said.

As an example, she offered the senior class at Bayport-Blue Point School District, which expects to graduate 181 students in June. The district’s kindergarten class has 143 students. Assuming  that no children leave the district 12 years from now, there will be 38 fewer graduates,  about a 20 percent decrease.

“This is a national trend,” Aguirre said.

During a meeting with faculty and students at the Ammerman campus in February, SUNY Provost Tod Laursen noted that “community colleges are susceptible to a decline in enrollment,” and that the system is looking for ways to stem the problem.

The 10-year enrollment report includes the number of students enrolled in the college every fall semester starting from 2009-2018.

From fall 2009 to fall 2010, there was a increase of 1,925 students, which equated to the largest increase in the 10 years surveyed. This was followed by an increase of 2,151 students between fall 2009 through fall 2011.

Suffolk reached its highest number of students enrolled in fall 2016 with a total of 27,244.

Going forward, Aguirre said the college anticipates an enrollment decrease of about 2 percent in the next year. She said this is part due to a solid stock market and the steady economy.

The college continues to address this trend with numerous recruitment and retention initiatives. That includes leveraging technology, such as online classes, to enhance the student experience and help retain current students.

“Lastly, we will look at the on-boarding process to help students determine career pathways early on in their academic journey,” Aguirre said.

“When the economy is stable and doing well, people do not typically pursue career changes or additional educational opportunities.”

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Suffolk to host 2 graduation ceremonies in response to student complaints

Following complaints from the Student Government Association on the Eastern Campus campus, changes are coming to Suffolk County Community College’s commencement celebration this year. The complaints centered on the number of tickets given and transportation to and from the event.

In response, the college will most notably host two commencement ceremonies on May 23. Commencement exercises will take place at 10  a.m. and alternately at 4 p.m., according to a notice sent to the campus community.

The ceremonies will take place in the Field House of the Health, Sports and Education Center, which is located on the Grant campus in Brentwood.

To address the issue of transportation to the campus, SCCC is providing yellow buses that students and family may reserve seats on for a fee to take to and from the Eastern or Ammerman campuses.

With the addition of another commencement, students will be able to receive up to four tickets, as opposed to the two they could receive in previous years. The ticketing system has adjusted to the new circumstances and students may be able to select their preferred time slot, according to the school’s website. 

Graduating students must select the ceremony that they would prefer to attend. In the event one of the ceremonies reaches full capacity, graduates will be directed to RSVP for the alternate ceremony time.

The tickets, which graduations can reserve online, are on a first-come,  first-serve basis, so if one time slot runs out, students will be required to sign up for the other.

SGA’s complaints were one of the main reasons for the changes to graduation, and they’ve continued to be an integral part of the process to create a smooth transition, according to Lisa Hamilton, the director of campus activities on the Grant campus.

“The SGA has been actively involved and has representatives in the Commencement Committee,” she said.

Students, school seek more conversation about mental health

Mental health is often a subject college students shy away from, or make sly jokes about. But it’s a major problem.

Consider that 80 percent of students feel overwhelmed by their academic responsibilities and only 60 percent of these students seek help, according to the National Alliance in Mental Illness. Fifty percent say these struggles affect their grades.

At SCCC, it is a topic dedicated to small sections of professors’ syllabuses, and one small collection of pamphlets in the Health Services Office. 

Mental health issues include but are not limited to: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction and feeling suicidal. The signs can be difficult to spot depending on how the person copes with them, which makes offering aid to those who are struggling that much harder. 

It’s harder to reach out to students who need help at transient schools like Suffolk, experts say.

“The stigma has changed in more recent years, but it’s still difficult to talk about mental health,” said 26-year-old Evan Haun, the coordinator of Mental Health Services on the Ammerman campus, “We try to make ourselves as accessible and seen as possible, visiting as many classrooms as we can to decrease the anxiety of the issue.” 

The transient problem

Suffolk offers many services that fit all types of students, from group sessions to individual counseling, which includes three to five sessions with a counselor. A new service being offered is creative arts therapy, which involves creating paintings, 3D sculpture and other forms of art to help express how one is feeling if they don’t have the words to. Every service is confidential, excluding immediate emergencies, Haun said.

Another option is a group activity called Wind Down Wednesdays that takes place during Common Hour in the Meditation Room of the Babylon Student Center.

While it’s focus isn’t necessarily on mental illness, it does seek to bring comfort and relaxation to those who may feel stressed from school or outside issues. During the meetings, they enjoy meditating, coloring and aromatherapy.

Students interviewed this story said they felt the issue is “extremely important,” and something that should at least be addressed at the beginning of semesters.

However, they said it is one seldom discussed by professors.

“The only time I can remember mental health being discussed in class was psychology, and it was discussed thoroughly. Other than that, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a professor bring it up,” said 19-year-old Stevie Adams, a Radio/TV major from Selden.

The mental health department also feels professors have a sort of responsibility to make the services known to their students.

“It was a hard push to get professors to include information about our services, but I’m happy we did because we’ve seen a considerable increase in the amount of students coming in for sessions. When we ask where they heard about us, they’ll usually say their professors referred them,” Haun said.

How can we address the problem better?

As far as what they feel could be done to improve the issue, answers ranged from creating polls, to simply being more vocal and starting a more open conversation within the campus.

“I think some sort of email survey could help so administration and the staff would know where to go from here,” said 20-year-old Jovian Schaeffer, a liberal arts major from Middle Island.

When asked about what could be improved about the school’s approach, Adams said, “I think Suffolk should let us know that this is a safe space to make anyone with any sort of mental health issue feel like they’re not alone.”

Men’s, women’s basketball advance in NJCAA playoffs

Suffolk’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both advanced to the second round of the NJCAA conference playoffs this past week.

The undefeated men’s team faced Dutchess Community College and soundly defeated them 84-50.

In the first half, Suffolk and their suffocating defense played a big role, limiting their opponent to 20 points. In the second half, they displayed their artillery, outscoring their opponent 52-30.

Tyree Grimsley was a figure with 24 points, six rebounds and three steals, Steven Tynes had 19 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. James Signer had 12 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and Jaye Bookhart had ten 10 points.

With this win, the Sharks move on to the Regional XV Semifinal where they will face Queensborough Community College this Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

They had two previous meetings this season, with the Sharks being victorious in both games. They averaged 91 points per game and held their opponent to 68 points.

The women’s basketball team defeated Borough of Manhattan Community College 52-37 in the first round of playoffs. They go on to play Nassau Community College for the second round of playoffs at Borough of Manhattan Community College on Saturday.

Suffolk basketball heads to playoffs after historic 24-0 record

Suffolk’s basketball team capped off a historic season Feb. 19 with a 123-45 rout of the Borough of Manhattan Community College,  completing the regular season with a perfect 24-0 record.

The Sharks, ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA, are set to play Dutchess Community College in the Section XV Division III conference playoffs in the Ammerman campus Brookhaven Gymnasium at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The team had not previously ended a season undefeated. Suffolk has beaten Dutchess twice this season.

Standout point guard Steven Tynes, who coach Victor Correa has described as the team’s leader, led the way for the Sharks in the win against Manhattan (20-8), scoring 29 points. He also had five rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals.

“It feels great. We worked hard all season. The results speak for themselves,” Tynes said. “It means everything to be a leader. I push everyone and they all push me.” 

Tynes had strong backup. Ryan Graziano had 16 points and seven rebounds. James Signer had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks,  and Tyree Grimsley added 15 points, nine rebounds and eight steals. RJ Walker had 12 points. Jon Agostino added four points and 10 assists.

Last season, the Sharks had three losses, all coming against Nassau County Community College. But this year, they topped Nassau in both of their two matches. “It means everything. It’s nice to beat Nassau, our direct rival. We worked a bit harder this year,” Signer said.

The Sharks averaged 91 points per game this season, while allowing 71 points. They shot 50 percent from the field and held their opponents to a low 39 percent. They shot 37 percent from beyond the arc while holding their opponents to 32 percent. They also averaged 39 rebounds, 22 assists, 12 steals and six blocks per game.

“I think a lot of people fail to realize the work ethic of this team,” said Kyle Dowd, 18, a radio and TV major who in his second semester at Suffolk who attended eight games this year. “They’ve been displaying this type of basketball all year and the results showed in the 24 games they’ve played this year,” Dowd said. “They really wanted this game against Nassau. You could tell.”

Tynes finished the season averaging 21 points, 9.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds shooting 50.2 percent from the field. Grimsley averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 71 percent from the field. Graziano averaged 13 points shooting 45 percent from the field.

Jaye Bookhart, who averaged 11 points while nailing three assists and three boards, shooting 44 percent from the field, said the team has to go into the playoffs with a specific mindset.

“In playoffs, everyone is 0-0,” he said. “We’re going back to the basics and keep getting buckets.” 

SUNY Provost Laursen calls for expansion of online courses

SUNY Provost Tod A. Laursen said during a visit to Suffolk’s Ammerman campus Feb. 21 that the state system is planning an aggressive expansion of its online courses and several other innovative initiatives to help it grow and adapt.

“We’re going to make a real push into the online space,” said Laursen, who was appointed in September as SUNY’s chief academic officer, to a group of more than 100 faculty, staff and students in the Montauk Point Room of the Babylon Student Center.

“Even though the system was early [in offering online courses], we don’t have very many exclusively online learners.”

Laursen said the courses not only offer flexibility to some potential students, but also are important to advancing the system’s reputation.

Laursen also said SUNY is looking at “micro-credentialing” options.

The system’s ultimate goal, Lauren said, is not to just enroll students, but to have them complete their degrees.

“I think the challenge for the system academic office is to try to actually help where it can and stay out the way where it can,” said  Laursen, whose job is to work with all of the system’s 64 campuses.

In response to a student’s question about how SUNY gets students involved in the process of developing new programs, Laursen said he believes there’s room for students’ voices to be more prominent. 

Laursen also touched on open education resources, or materials developed by faculty. OER materials could be used to dramatically reduce textbook costs and provide up-to-date information. 

While not many faculty members in the audience said they used OER material, Paul Beaudin, vice president for academic affairs, said Suffolk is the third-largest user of OER materials in SUNY, and the college has received a small grant from the system to support its initiatives.

Two conferences were held on the subject and another workshop on this is planned for Professional Development Day on March 12, he noted in a follow-up email to faculty and staff.

For SGA’s elections to have more involvement, it needs greater authority

The college holds the Student Government Association’s elections each spring semester. This year, they happened from April 8 to April 13 — five days during which students could vote online, in the college’s website homepage for their favorite representatives running for office for the 2018-2019 school year.

However, the recent elections didn’t do as well as last year’s. This time, 197 students from the Ammerman campus voted. Compared to 2017, when there were 405 hits, the number is significantly low. But why?

One of the main reasons was the number of candidates running for the vacant positions, said Laura Garcia, the current president of SGA. In 2017, two candidates ran for president and two for vice president.

As a result, “there was more promotion, debate and campaigning,” she said.

This year, only one person ran for president. Besides that, no one ran for vice president, secretary or treasurer.

Another reason can be the lack of awareness about what SGA actually does. Most people might infer that this organization has a lot of power in the decision-making processes that happen on campus. However, this is not the case for the student governance bodies at Suffolk County Community College.

SGA’s mission is to advocate for students’ rights, responsibilities and freedoms. It serves as a channel between faculty members, students and administration. However, no one holds a seat on the SCCC board of trustees, nor does SGA have a say in how student activity fees are spent, as do many student government organizations, including all four-year SUNY colleges and universities. SGA’s job is to communicate any issue to the student trustee, Jerome Bost.

Bost is the sole student representative on the college’s 10-member board. He represents all the students from the three campuses, exposing their concerns and being that voice in the decision-making process.

SGA spends a good portion of its annual budget mainly in giveaways, as minor contributions to the wellness of the student body.

“We want more ability to be able to oversee certain things, which is what we’re pushing forward now,” said Garcia. SGA is very limited in what they actually do on campus, so they try to help other organizations in events, as a way of promoting the services that the campus offers.

I think that this factor also plays an important role in how much students around the campus are informed, not only in the elections, but in the overall SGA’s role. The majority of the students don’t show much interest in what happens with this organization. Many others might do, but lacking the knowledge and information.

The Student Government Association in the Ammerman campus needs more promotion, better ways to get to students, who are intended to be the ones benefited from SGA’s work. If students are more involved, then more would be interested in being part of it, as well as voting for people to represent them. However, it is important to take away some of the limitations that restrict them to do more for the college community in general.