Jay Allen Sanford 6:52 a.m., Dec. 5
Keeping Southwestern College Credits If Accreditation Is Lost
Southwestern College is now on a 5-month clock to losing its accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges commission on community colleges.
While it is possible for Southwestern College administration, faculty and student representatives to meet the deadline in March 2011, the political issues of district governance over the Chula Vista campus have soured to the point that there may be no practical solution short of first losing WASC certification for not meeting its Standards of Accreditation and then trying to win it back sometime in the relatively distant future.
Southwestern College was listed on WASC probation in August 2009. A WASC inspection team found problems on campus after the College had forwarded its accreditation self-study report to WASC. If a two-year WASC probation period passes without Southwestern College satisfactorily correcting the deficiencies noted in a total of ten then-unmet WASC recommendations, then the United States Department of Education will demand that WASC terminate Southwestern College's accreditation, instantly devaluing the credits earned by thousands of Southwestern College students.
So far, college and district officials have acknowledged that a campus response to only one of the ten recommendations has been accepted by WASC. A total of five of the ten areas of deficiencies had to be acceptably met by October 15, 2010. The remaining five are to be addressed and submitted to WASC by March 15, 2011. In the final months of the two-year probationary period, the WASC community college commission will review the ten responses while re-inspecting the camps to verify compliance with WASC's Standards of Accreditation.
See Susan Luzzaro's San Diego Reader article "Public Records Suggest Southwestern College Used Public Funds Frivolously" and comments for a discussion of allegations regarding Southwestern College's probationary period and Southwestern Community College District issues stemming from probation.
Student Self-Help to Preserve Value of SWC Units Earned?
It may be possible for current Southwestern College students to preserve the current value of their earned units by taking immediate action in the face of a SWCCD-manufactured hazard that puts those credits at risk.
If a current Southwestern College student registers for a Fall 2010 or Spring 2011 class at a nearby second community college AND then immediately requests a transcript from Southwestern be sent to the second college, then the still-accredited units should be accepted at the second college. If students wait to do this until Southwestern College possibly loses accreditation in Fall 2011, then it may be too late to have the earned Southwestern College units accepted at any second campus still in full standing with WASC.
Transferring students to other local colleges and universities should consult relevant college catalogs or transfer agreements for further information on acceptance of transcripts from Southwestern College if accreditation is lost there.