The Collegian is a public forum for Lorain County Community College. Publishing the truth is the ultimate goal of The Collegian and every effort is made by the students to be accurate. The Collegian provides the students with an outlet to exercise their First Amendment rights regarding news of interest to the LCCC community. News and views published in The Collegian are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, advisers and faculty members of LCCC.
By Ethan LindenbergerJRNM 151 “When I get a flu vaccine or any vaccine, it’s to help myself, and also because I love you,” said Harry Kestler, Ph.D., in a recent online interview. Dr. Kestler is a microbiology professor at LCCC,…
By Emma Konn JRNM 151 As the nation is approaching a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers of victims are continuing to rise. The pandemic is growing at about 3,231 as a 7-day average, whereas during March of 2020…
Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice, Oscar Rosado and Alyssa Watson Journalism students Only 30 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities have women as presidents, according to a 2017 study by the American Council on Education. Lorain…
Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice and Alyssa Watson JRNM-151 students Brian Yarosh, a North Ridgeville resident, voted for President Donald Trump because the incumbent “is different from every other politician.” Like Yarosh, 76,719 (50 percent) Lorain County…
Oscar Rosado Editor-in-Chief As a Fall semester starts, security measures to keep COVID-19 in check have been implemented by LCCC to ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff. Campus Security Chief Kenneth Collins said many new procedures…
“When I get a flu vaccine or any vaccine, it’s to help myself, and also because I love you,” said Harry Kestler, Ph.D., in a recent online interview. Dr. Kestler is a microbiology professor at LCCC, and he had aided in the development of the HIV-AIDS vaccine. He uses his experience and knowledge to advocate for vaccines and educate his students on the importance of immunizations. “When I’m vaccinated, I’m one less vector, one less place, where the virus can be transmitted.”
Vaccines protect individuals from preventable diseases, but through that, the chance of a disease spreading to others by infecting someone also decreases. This is why Kestler said he vaccinates because he “loves you.” The vaccines he receives protects everyone around him, a concept known as herd immunity. However, herd immunity works only if enough people have received their vaccines.
“If we get to a certain level [of vaccinations] for this virus (COVID-19), we think it’s around 70%, we can at least return to more normalcy,” Kestler said. The normalcy of life without constant mask-wearing, quarantine, and social distancing from loved ones. If this 70% margin of a vaccinated population is reached, the rest of the population that remains unvaccinated are protected. In hopes of getting to this 70% margin, experts like Kestler are trying to educate students about vaccines, but not in the way you might expect.
“I don’t try to teach facts on the issue, I try to teach people how to acquire the best information,” Kestler said. “You play whack-a-mole if you try to knock down one particular theory and another one just pops out over here.” Instead, he recommends his students, “look for information from a reputable source.”
Logan Valdez, a first-year criminology student at LCCC, said, “I’m going to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available for the general public. I believe this is a virus that will not be going away within this year. It might take everyone catching this virus to finally see the number of cases drop. I would get the vaccine to protect others that are more prone to danger.”
Other professionals such as Mikhail Varshavski, a board-certified family medicine physician popularly known as “Doctor Mike,” are also trying to educate people about the importance of vaccines.
Varshavski’s YouTube channel has over 6.7 million subscribers, with educational content about medicine and science. “Humans are naturally skeptical,” Varshavski said. “Trust in governmental institutions is at an all-time low,” and this all contributes to the rise in skepticism. To combat this, Varshavski gave the same advice as Kestler, saying, “Basic science literacy could be greatly improved, knowledge about quality vs poor-quality studies.”
As the nation is approaching a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers of victims are continuing to rise. The pandemic is growing at about 3,231 as a 7-day average, whereas during March of 2020 it was growing at 30 as a 7-day average. This prompts school communities to continue with an online education, which is exactly what Lorain County Community College is practicing. The online learning system has put many students out of reach for the help they need, particularly international students. Wafaa Al-Quraan, an international student studying Psychology in their second year, is trying hard to carry on life as normal as one can during the pandemic. Restrictions such as online classes, social distancing, and quarantine can make it difficult to manage as a student. But Al-Quraan says “because of the online learning restrictions it creates social isolation, lack of motivation, less creativity, and no longer developing communication skills.” This lack of social exchange and interrupted educational growth are not the only effects felt by international students. Reina Gjinika, an international student studying Universal Science in their second year, explains the difficulty that they have been seeing throughout the international student community as a whole, which is roughly 42 students. “As an international student, the greatest impact that COVID-19 had in my life is the restriction of closing the borders. This way many of us couldn’t see our families overseas,” said Gjinika. Online learning has been a necessity to the education system as quarantine has progressed. However, it does pose certain effects that can cause distress for international students, including communication delays, feelings of being a castaway, and unable to travel to meet their family in times of need.
One of only eight students in the country to receive the award
Special to The Collegian
Lorain County Community College student Nikita Johnson has been named a 2021 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream (ATD) – the nation’s most comprehensive organization in advancing student success and equity. Johnson is one of just eight students in the country to be selected as a DREAM Scholar.
“I am still in shock that I am receiving this award. I am excited at the opportunity to continue my journey with the support of LCCC and the DREAM Scholar program,” Johnson said.
Achieving the Dream’s DREAM Student Scholars are resilient community college students, determined to reach their goals and lift up their communities. As a DREAM Scholar, Johnson will participate in the virtual ATD DREAM Conference, including sharing her story through an autobiographical poem.
“I am from late-night cries that carry the pain of hunger.
From dirty shoes to nappy heads, and clothes counted up to a few.
I am from early morning wake-ups, from eviction sheriff’s banging on the doors, to the cold touch of metal beds and wool covers from shelters housing the poor.”
The poem then reflects on her experiences on at LCCC.
“I am from a college that strives for its students to be more than their struggles.
A college that supports diversity, commitment, foundations, perseverance, creativity, ethnicity, equity, and inclusion.
with something as small as a text, but as strong as a hug.
a college that inspires hope that influence changes.”
The LCCC community is inspired by Johnson, as well.
“The Lorain County Community College family is so proud of Nikita. She’s demonstrated amazing resilience in her life and in reaching her goals. She continues to amaze us with her authentic passion to make a positive impact on her community,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “Being named a DREAM Scholar is a fitting title, as Nikita is making her dreams come true, and is inspiring others to achieve their dreams, as well.”
LCCC is one of 300 community colleges in the national ATD network and one of only 11 colleges to earn ATD’s Leader College of Distinction status. In 2020, LCCC was named the Leah Meyer Austin winner, ATD’s top prize reserved for network colleges that show greatest, sustained improvements in student outcomes and student success. Through working with ATD, LCCC has made great strides in narrowing equity gaps for students in underserved populations, such as Johnson.
In May, Johnson, 30, will be the first person in her family to earn a college degree when she graduates with an associate of arts degree from LCCC. She’ll continue on through LCCC’s University Partnership in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in social work through Youngstown State University.
Johnson has a knack for finding order out in the midst of chaos. It’s a skill that is important for a career in social work, she said.
“Helping people reach the best versions of themselves, making sure people know and understand their rights; those are big things for me,” Johnson explained.
A single mother from Lorain, Johnson said she hopes earning her associate degree and bachelor’s degree will lay a new path for herself and her four children. Her goal is to break the generational cycle of poverty that has played a pivotal role in her life.
As a child growing up in Cleveland, Johnson lived with the harsh realities of poverty, crime and violence.
“In minority communities living in poverty, children and families are placed in a constant fight or flight mode, unable to grow and be productive to make living a better place,” she said.
That environment took a heavy toll on young Johnson.
“I dropped out of school in the eighth grade. I became a teen mom when I was 15. Life was hard. I felt trapped in a life I did not choose,” she recalled.
Still, she was determined to make a better life for her new family. But she lacked the tools to make much progress, and the barriers of poverty stood in the way. Without a high school diploma, her options for employment were limited. She worked a variety of jobs, including various positions in fast food and nursing homes, but landing those jobs was a struggle.
“I applied to White Castle when I was 16 and I couldn’t pass the division part of the math test,” she recalled. “I felt shame. I knew then I needed to find a way to do better for myself and my family.”
In 2014, she decided it was time to put those thoughts into action. She took a leap of faith and signed up for the GED. She failed the math section, but passed the other parts of the test. By 2017, she was determined to pass the math portion of the test through LCCC. After multiple tries, she succeeded and earned her GED.
That achievement moment was a huge step forward and the confidence boost that Johnson needed to keep moving forward. As a GED graduate, Johnson earned a $500 scholarship to continue her education at Lorain County Community College.
Ballinger said the scholarship for GED graduates encourages students to continue their education and improve their economic station.
“Education is the most powerful driver of social and economic mobility,” Ballinger said. “When someone living in poverty earns a college degree, their chances of remaining at the bottom of the economic ladder drops from 50 percent to just 10 percent,” Ballinger said. “It’s LCCC’s mission to provide equitable access to higher education for all, no matter where a person starts out in life.”
With the momentum of earning her GED and the offer of a scholarship, Johnson knew it was the right moment to continue her education at LCCC and she enrolled right away.
“I signed up for LCCC classes that summer. At that time, my goal had always been to become a nurse and this seemed like it was my chance,” Johnson said.
She was only a few days into her nursing pre-requisite classes when a series of personal tragedies began – starting with the murder of her brother in June 2017. She dropped out of class to focus on her family and close circle of friends. By 2018, she had suffered more loss, but was ready to try college again. This time she had a new passion: to become a social worker.
The drive is personal. By earning a bachelor’s degree in social work, Johnson hopes to help young people access the skills that lead to a better future.
“Growing up in poverty, social workers a lot of times have a negative meaning associated with them. I’d like to change that. I want to show children and others the positive side of being a social worker,” she said.
Once she began her classes in the social work pathway at LCCC, Johnson quickly found a friend and mentor in sociology professor Aimee Dickinson.
“Aimee heard me tell my story to a classmate. She heard some of the hard things I’ve been through and she didn’t see something bad. She saw things in me that I’d never seen in myself before,” Johnson said.
Dickinson invited Johnson to a meeting of LCCC’s Equity Team, a group of faculty, staff and students who actively work to ensure LCCC’s commitment to equity is achieved through improving success for students from marginalized and underrepresented populations.
Johnson knew her life was changed from the first meeting.
“I attended the Equity Team meeting and I couldn’t believe what I saw: faculty and staff really fighting for their students to succeed. I shared my experiences with them and I could feel they truly listened to me and wanted to help me succeed,” Johnson said.
From that day on, Johnson said she had found her support system at LCCC. Dickinson introduced her to LCCC Student Services Navigator Kionna McIntosh-Pharms, and the two became Johnson’s biggest cheerleaders. Dickinson tragically passed away in August 2020, but Johnson said the impact on her life will never be forgotten.
“It seems like every time I am at my breaking point I receive a text from Kionna or the Equity Team giving me words of encouragement to keep moving forward,” Johnson said. “That’s all because of Aimee.”
She’s helping others find that support, too.
“Whenever I hear someone in class say they’re struggling, I let them know about the resources at LCCC, and that people genuinely want to help them. LCCC truly cares about each student and treats you like family,” Johnson said.
The National Junior College Athletic Association announced on March 13 that their spring sports would be postponed for 21 days. Three days later, the NJCAA released a statement cancelling all spring sports for the season. This was just the beginning of a complex situation involving the status of sports through the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Jul. 13, fall and spring sports were postponed until new year except one sport: men’s and women’s cross country.
“We had to keep it in everyone’s mind that we have the opportunity to participate right now, but that could change. We always needed to be in clear communication, we knew for the safety of our student athletes we may have to shut down at any point,” said Jim Powers, LCCC cross-country coach and assistant athletic director.
In a normal year, the cross-country team has eight races. This year that was reduced to four.
“We always kept it in the back of our mind that any race could be our last race. I said that before the regionals, if this is our last race, then let’s make it a great one,” Powers said, “They did, all of the men’s team ran their season best races at regionals and two out of our four women did also.”
The men became the 2020 NJCAA Region 12 DIII Champions at regionals and the women’s team placed second to Kellogg Community College, the second-best team in the country.
“It was one of the most rewarding years I had. There were good sports programs that were just not having good seasons. For the men and women to come out and run their best race of the season at the most important race of the season was phenomenal,” Powers said.
“I wanted them to know how proud they should be of themselves. To be taking a full-time class schedule and working a job, to maneuver through this landmine of a season and still be successful in the season, they should be proud of what they have accomplished. A lot of sports programs didn’t even get that chance to compete, don’t be let down that we did not go to nationals, but we were able to compete.”
The Commodores were unable to participate in NJCAA DIII National Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa, due to the pandemic.
Powers said, “We knew a few weeks ahead of time that this trip may not happen. Iowa was a state on Ohio’s travel advisory list. The more we talked about it, it just wasn’t going to happen. Everybody thought it was the right decision.”
In his statement announcing the suspension of athletics, Jonathan Dryden, LCCC provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and the University Partnership, said, “As with everything we do, the decision to suspend athletics was made with the health and safety of our athletes, coaches and our entire campus in mind. We are disappointed to have to make this decision, however, it would be nearly impossible to implement the precautions needed to ensure a safe environment during competition, practices and travel.”
Powers said he was not surprised about the decision that the college came to. The coaches, administration, and athletic director were all in an agreement.
To the athletes whose season has been affected, Powers said to “remember that you are a Commodore.”
“The season may not be going on right now but you are a student athlete here at LCCC. We are still going to do everything we can to keep you engaged. We are still here academically, support system wise, and student success wise. We want to make sure our student athletes still think of themselves as Commodores here at LCCC and the season will start next year.”
Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice, Oscar Rosado and Alyssa Watson
Only 30 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities have women as presidents, according to a 2017 study by the American Council on Education. Lorain County Community College found a spot in the trend-setting group, thanks to Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., who took
the reins of the college in 2016. Ballinger, as a junior in high school, wrote a career paper on public affairs. That experience motivated her to pursue leadership roles and eventually become the president of LCCC.
Ballinger is not the only woman to occupy a leadership role at LCCC. Among the top 23 top executives and administrators at LCCC, 16 (70 percent) are women, which is a 20 percent increase from 2010, according to the data provided by the college’s Human Resources Department. There are two women vice presidents out of our; five women deans out of six; eight women directors out of 13 in addition to the president.
Ballinger, who still keeps the high school career paper, said she never felt any gender bias in several executive positions she had held at LCCC. She was also inspired by late Supreme Court Judge Ruth Ginsberg who had said, “Fight for the things
that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
“Dr. Ballinger has taken our college to the next level,” said Jonathan Dryden, Ph.D., who is the provost and vice president Academic Affairs. “That is a tribute to her strong leadership. It is not because she is a woman but because she is an excellent leader and the college is very fortunate to have someone of her caliber in that role.”
Dryden said he is very proud of the women leaders at LCCC. “We have a fantastic leadership. Not just in the academic area, but also in the executive leadership area. We have a lot of strong, creative, and talented women leaders. I don’t think they are great leaders because they’re women or that their leadership qualities are defined by their gender. They do a great job here because they are excellent leaders, period. It just so happens, they are women.”Tracy Green, vice president of Strategic and Institutional Development, echoed similar views.
Green, who was an LCCC student, said she became vice president not “because of being a woman. I worked hard to get to this position.”
Women’s success, Green said, depends on “where they want to make a career. Women are in positions of power in many different places.”
Samantha Marx, director of Client Service at Employers Resource Council (ERC) based in Highland Heights, lauded the women’s leadership roles at the college.
“LCCC has won our NorthCoast 99 award several times in the program’s 20-plus year history. Their commitment to a great workplace for all has been commendable. The NorthCoast 99 Award honors top workplaces throughout Northeast Ohio based on their workplace practices,” Marx noted in an email.
Kelly Zelesnik, dean of Engineering, Business and IT Technology, asserted the dean’s positions were not given to women over men. They were given to the person that best fits the qualifications of the job, regardless of their gender, according to Zelesnik.
Zelesnik said she remembers two unsavory experiences at a private company where she had worked. The first time, a male coworker told to her face and in front of their client that he “didn’t think women made very good engineers.”
In the other instance, a new male coworker revealed his salary. She then found out he was making “substantially” more money than her even though she had more experience, and both had the same education.
Zelesnik started her journey at LCCC as an engineering student, and after graduation worked in the private sector until she came back to LCCC to teach. When the dean’s position opened up, she fit the skill set required.
LCCC is eons ahead of other colleges in gender equality, according to Brenda Pongracz, Ed.D., who is the dean of Arts and Humanities and interim provost of the University Partnership. There are many areas where the college is advanced that have nothing to do with gender. “LCCC is setting an example for women that they can be successful.”
However, Pongracz said she had experienced challenges from students. For example, they may speak to her with less respect than they would with a man in her position. But such incidents are few and far between, she said.
Marisa White, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Services, said, “It (gender equity) is really important for us because we serve such a diverse group of students. It’s important for our leadership to reflect on them.”
White, a mother of a 3-year-old boy, said, “There are certain expectations of being a mother by society. Having the traditional mother role definitely adds an extra layer of complexity to an already very busy job.”
White establishes respectful relationships with her peers. She cautions that being too strict or too emotional could lead to negative outcomes.
“We don’t necessarily have to work harder than men, but we have to be more mindful about how we are creating relationships with people at work,” she said. “Holding on to the connectivity of feminine qualities could be an asset when coming to leadership. It allows us to drive changes in a more human way.”
Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice and Alyssa Watson JRNM-151 students
A row of campaign signs in Lorain. Photo: Harleyann McQuaid
Brian Yarosh, a North Ridgeville resident, voted for President Donald Trump because the incumbent “is different from every other politician.” Like Yarosh, 76,719 (50 percent) Lorain County residents endorsed Trump as opposed to 72,792 (48 percent) residents who supported former Vice President Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election, according to unofficial results published by Lorain County Board of Elections.
Lorain County flipped to red in this election. In the past two presidential elections, Lorain County has been blue. In the 2016 presidential election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton collected 66,949 (47.3 percent) votes whereas Trump received 66,818 (47.2 percent) votes. In 2012, incumbent Barack Obama easily won the county by garnering 81,464 (57 percent) votes against his Republican challenger Mitt Romney who received 59,405 (41 percent) votes.
This political party flip did not surprise Yarosh. “Seeing all the signs around the county, it seems like it has been more pro Trump,” Yarosh said.
“I liked that he wasn’t a career politician. As brash and arrogant as he can come off sometimes, I didn’t think he was in the pockets of the elites,” Yarosh said, “He says what he feels and he gets stuff done.”
Matthew Rasmussen, an Oberlin native who voted for Biden, said he was disappointed by the election outcome in Lorain County as well as in the state. “I do not love Biden. I think he is not the best things for this country and I certainly disagree with some of his policies, I wish he was more progressive. However, he is leagues ahead of Trump.”
Lorain resident Leah Aulisio-Sharpe agreed saying, “I am absolutely not surprised by the results of the election so far.” Nonetheless, she voted for Biden because she felt “morally obligated.”
Christina Dempsey, of North Ridgeville, expressed similar views.
“We have a president who thrives in chaos,” Dempsey, a Biden supporter, said. “Trump doesn’t have the leadership we need to overcome this critical moment in history and that is scary. Biden comes to the table with the qualities that I want my children to see in a leader.”
But, Ronald Miller, a has a different view. The Sheffield Township resident said he voted for Trump “because I like the way the country is run by him in terms of taxes and jobs.” Miller added his party loyalty didn’t influence his decision. “I vote for the person I think is best for the job regardless of party.”
Courtney Koler, another Sheffield Township resident, agreed. Koler said she supported Trump “because he has the courage to stand up for Americans, and also because of his many accomplishments with the First Step Act and jobs prior to COVID-19.”
However, not everyone voted for either of these candidates.
Rich Hawkins, a long-time Republican, changed his vote to Independent this year. “I feel very disenfranchised right now,” Hawkins said. He voted for Jo Jorgenson in hopes of a more controlled government. Jorgenson had stated that “the older system isn’t working anymore” Americans need smaller government.
London Dejarnette, an Oberlin resident, is a Biden supporter. “Trump has proven in the last four years, especially this last year, that he is unfit to represent all Americans,” Dejarnette said, noting they are concerned because Amy Coney Barrette, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, had threatened to take away health care rights, access to abortion care and the rights of LGBTQ and the of sexual assault.
Sydney Broucek, of Avon, said she was not surprised that Trump won the county. She said Lorain County has a large margin of white upper-middle class residents that voted for him.
Likewise, David Corrigall, a North Ridgeville resident and a Trump supporter, said he was not surprised by the election outcome because Trump appeals more to the working class.
Meanwhile, Sofia Intagliata, a first-time voter, was surprised especially because the county voted blue in the two previous elections. “I thought Biden was going to win Lorain [County],” the Avon resident said.
Both Broucek and Intagliata supported Biden because they didn’t like how Trump has run his presidency. “I did not like how the past four years have been,” said Broucek. Broucek specifically she does not agree with Trump’s immigration policies while Intagliata “did not like the way Trump handled the coronavirus pandemic.”
Intagliata also added that she agreed with Biden’s stance on student loans as she is about to join a college.
Corrigall, a Trump voter, said that he voted for Trump because “I feel like we need a strong president.” Corrigall predicted that Trump would get back up if he gets knocked down. Biden will stay down.”
That is the mindset of Jeremy Benjamin, the director of theatre for Lorain County Community College’s student theatre program. After having to cancel their spring show earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Benjamin has found himself in a difficult situation of planning the theatre’s upcoming year.
A rehearsal scene from The Imaginators. Submitted photo.
“All live performances nationwide have been shut down since March. So, we really had to figure out how we could do something that we could present in a socially distanced manner,” Benjamin said.
Luckily for him and all the students involved in the program “all the stars aligned” in the middle of August.
Rachael Endrizzi, Spark Theatre director and LCCC theatre alumni, approached Benjamin about a collaboration in order to help make sure their shows went on. The Spark Theatre Company is a local theatre that “exists to celebrate the power of young people through professional theatre,” according to their website. Spark tours local K-12 schools performing professional theatre productions at school assemblies.
“We are collaborating to produce and film two productions, one in the fall, and one in the spring,” Benjamin said. “We are filming and shooting right on campus, and then they are going to edit those down and present those as virtual assemblies so we can still bring theatre to the schools and the community. It’s allowing us to continue doing what we do and continue to expose our students to the curriculum but doing so in a safe and socially distant manner.”
A single, socially distanced and limited capacity performance of their production, The Imaginators by Dwayne Hartford, will be held on Nov. 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hoke Theatre at Stocker Center.
The students began rehearsals for this play on Zoom and just recently met in person while staying socially distanced and wearing masks in their rehearsal space. Everybody working on the show will be tested two-three days before the filming day in order to guarantee a safe environment to take off their masks.
Benjamin said, “There has been a lot of planning involved to make this safe. Everybody is being very careful in their daily lives.”
In spring, LCCC Theatre program along with Spark Theatre Company will produce Posters & Flip Flops by LCCC alumni Jeremy Gaydosh.
LCCC Student Senate President Zarai Aquino’s biggest challenge is “managing my classes and my job.” Aquino is majoring in Organizational Leadership at the University Partnership with Cleveland State University.
Aquino said during a telephone interview that she got “into my position the same way all senators get in. I gathered 100 signatures from students and then started to campaign.”
When asked what she does in her position, Aquino said, “As student senate president I attend council meetings. Give insight on behalf of the students. I reach out to students so they can voice their opinions, then I make a report and give it to the higher-ups.”
Aquino added, “I saw it as an opportunity to make changes.”
Aquino said that “gaining student participation during COVID-19” is another challenge. “Now that everything is online, we don’t have a student data base. Now with coronavirus everything is online, the meetings are on WebEx. We have been promoting them on our social media.”
Some of the upcoming events include a Facebook costume contest, Instagram scavenger hunt, and RealTalk meetings.
As the fall semester begins, the LCCC campus is missing many excited and eager faces as it used to seeing around this time of year. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the look of LCCC during the Welcoming Week.
No Welcoming Week festivities at College Center. Photo: Mackenzie Jonke.
“In the six years I’ve worked here, no other year has looked like this,” explained Marketplace cashier Leanne Failing. “I was aware of the changes, but having segregated entrances and your temperature taken was surprising.”
Covid-19 screening stations have been set up in select entrances to the campus. After the screening, students and faculty have to walk through connecting buildings to get to their classes.
With many classes opting for online learning and the strict precautions to provide a safe environment for students, College Center and other buildings were bare. Even with all the modifications, Failing was eager to return to the school.
“I was looking forward to coming back, but it definitely has a different vibe. I think this is just a time for us all to be patient”.
Campus Security Chief Kenneth Collins, who was working at the temperature check station in CC building on the first day back to campus, said the pandemic has left people confused on many new rules and regulations. He said there are a lot more students on campus than he expected. Many students have chosen a community college as opposed to a four-year university because of the coronavirus in an attempt to save money or preserve health.
Collins, who is also a criminal justice graduate, explained there is an influx of telephone calls his department was receiving due to most entrances being closed.
Collins said he was pleased that “everyone was pretty patient and polite” to him and to his coworkers at the screening areas.
Six feet distancing signs are posted in the bookstore. Photo: Mackenzie Jonke.
Peyton Kellick, a psychology major and a Commodore Bookstore staff, said she wasn’t sure what to expect on the first day of the class, but she was definitely excited to see people at the campus again. As she works in the bookstore, she is used to seeing a lot of foot-traffic. She said she thought a lot of people would order their books online, and she was surprised to see as many people as she did in the bookstore and it was a “pleasant surprise.”
However, the first day back was still nowhere near as busy as it was in years past.
Ana Marzan, a Student Life staff and a criminal justice major, said she also saw more people on campus than she expected to see, but the amount of people present today was nowhere near the amount of people that are usually seen roaming the CC building. In addition to there being fewer people, she said that she did not expect the temperature checks when she walked in at CC, and while she was expected to wear a mask, she said it felt “weird.”
Journalism students Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Madison Leon, Dylan Rice, and Alyssa Watson contributed to this report.
As a Fall semester starts, security measures to keep COVID-19 in check have been implemented by LCCC to ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff.
Campus Security Chief Kenneth Collins said many new procedures are now in place to tighten extra safety measurements such as having anyone who enters the building have their temperature checked, having masks provided for those who don’t have one, having sanitizing stations throughout the campus, limiting its entrances and exits, and having more security on board.
A student checks his temperature at College Center. Photo: Oscar Rosado
Collins said an additional eight to 10 officers have come to campus and been spread out to help monitor anyone who enters the building via temperature check. Collins added the campus has partnered with the Elyria Police Department to have these additional officers on board, and mentioned North Ridgeville and Wellington are interested to help out if more extra hands are needed.
“Fall semester is our busiest,” said Collins. He added with the additional number of officers “we are able to help the campus out more.”
Due to a new cloud system, the exact number of people who were checked on the first day and week is yet to be determined, but Collins said the College Center was the busiest.
“The bookstore is here, Starbucks is here, this is the heart of the campus,” said Collins. He also said he was at first concerned how many people were going to line up the first week, but said the lines moved swiftly and with no problem, as everyone complied with the new rules of checking temperatures. “Our students understand, and are receptive to it. With what we’re doing, we can get through this.”
This new system of checking everyone’s temperature started in early August as the semester was preparing to officially start in the upcoming weeks, to determine how things were going to go.
“There have been no real high cases,” said Collins regarding the temperatures of the number of passing people. He assures if the initial touchless temperature mechanism has a high reading of a person, the security officer there will take a second reading from a handheld temperature reader.
In the event someone has a high fever of 100.4 or above, the person will be asked to leave, but also said if someone does have a high temperature it could also be due to the person being checked running a lot due to being late or whatever the case may be, therefore raising their temperature. With that as a case, if that is to happen, the person will be asked to wait outside for approximately ten minutes, to see if the temperature changes.
According to Collins, there are a complete total of eight open entrances available to enter through at the campus, with the remaining doors only being exit only. The eight locations that are open through the campus are: two entrances at the Physical Education building, two entrances at the Bass Library, both the North and South sides, the East door of the Lab Sciences building, the Stocker Center Lobby, and the Spitzer Center lobby. Collins mentioned the Learning Center is also open through its entrance as well.
In addition, there is one entrance available to the campus’ off-site locations such as the Lorain City Center, the Wellington Learning Center, as well as the University Partnership Ridge Campus.
Collins said the cleaning company that helps with the sanitation of the campus, ABM Industries, has made extra efforts to keep the campus clean and sanitized every day for those who do come into the campus.
With these new restrictions, Collins said the college’s hours have not changed much. The security hours will remain the same as always, and the security will close the majority of campus doors around 8:00 p.m. as not a lot of classes are held around that hour regardless. However, Collins and the other security officers are well aware there may be students working on computers on campus who cannot get access to one outside, and are well aware of them being on campus in the later hours. “We’ve been in their shoes before,” said Collins on the matter, and will keep their interest to stay longer if they must in mind to ensure their educational success.
“We’re making a positive growth to get things somewhat back to normal,” said Collins as he assures he is very confident about the extra security measurements to keep the campus safe for all who enter. “We don’t know how long this is going to last, but everyone has been pretty flexible with all the changes so far.”
In the event that COVID-19 slows down, Collins said the campus will consider easing its restrictions. But for the time being, this is the new normal for the campus everyone will have to adjust to.
“The college really has done a wonderful job to keep the campus’ health in mind,” said Collins.
Despite social distancing and other covid-19-related restrictions, LCCC’s Issue 17 levy passed by 27,650 (59.5 percent) to 18,809 (40.5 percent) votes, according to unofficial results released by Lorain County Board of Elections on April 28.
The goal of renewing the existing 1.8 millage as well as adding a 0.5 millage won by 8,841 votes.
LCCC will receive an estimated $15.6 million per year with the passing of the levy. This levy amount will run until the next decade, lasting until 2030.
“We all won, together!”
“We all won, together,” exclaimed Vice President for Strategic and Institutional Development Tracy Green.“We are humbled by the results and by the confidence this community has and what LCCC means to the lives of the people here. Issue 17 has passed at about 60 percent and that is a phenomenal testament to how this community values higher education and the impact that LCCC is making on our community and our future.”
Won regardless of the coronavirus outbreak
Regardless of the initial setback of the election pushed from Mar. 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the levy has passed.
“It is absolutely remarkable, and I am so grateful for the continuation of the community’s support. It was this community that built LCCC as the first community college in Ohio in 1963,” said Green. She went on to say, “That tradition of investing in ourselves and in the best hope of our community’s future continues today. So this result just really reflects that continued commitment for our local access to affordable quality higher education and all the gratitude goes to our community. We are the community’s college and we will continue to fulfill that mission.”
Going forward with the future, Green said, “This is a ten-year renewal levy, so it keeps a foundation of support that has been part of LCCC since 1963. It is instrumental to making LCCC who we are and what we’re able to deliver to this community.”
Not a typical election
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, celebrations have been put on hold. “First and foremost is the health and safety of our community. So while prior election years when we had an issue on the ballot that has been up for renewal, we’ve had wonderful celebration times with large gatherings, but we want to protect the health and safety of our campus and our community,” said Green.
It was not a traditional celebration nor a watch-party to see results come up on April 28, according to Green. She went to say, “It was not a typical gathering, we were just watching the results come through with Lorain County Board of Elections.”
“It was a little quieter, but that doesn’t make the celebration any less enthusiastic just because we weren’t able to do it in that way. There is such sincere gratitude for the support of this community,” said Green.
Thank you to all students
Green also paid tribute to students. “Thank you to all the students. Our students are the reason why we exist and what we do every day, and it is their stories that I believe demonstrate the impact that we make,” said Green.
Green believes statistics are just half of what reflects the success of students and the college. “Certainly, percentages and numbers say one side of the story, but when you really tell the story, like the story of yourself and other students and the impact that our college was able to make on the individual lives, that is when it becomes real, and that’s when it becomes meaningful. We are grateful to our students for entrusting us with their futures and choosing us as their higher education providers.”