Throughout the last years I have attended classes offered by TRCC at the Bootheel Education Center in Malden. I have always valued the excellent service provided there, and was even quite sad as I heard that TRCC would not be able to continue offering classes at the center. In my opinion, the close cooperation between the two institutions (TRCC & SEMO) has contributed greatly toward the diverse and somewhat unique learning environment.
I have followed the extensive media coverage in the last few weeks and I must say that the way with which TRCC has chosen to approach the issue has left me --the student--feeling insulted. I will not attempt to justify SEMO's actions, but cannot help to notice the immature and disrespectful manner of TRCC's public statements.
Firstly, TRCC has described its students as relying on them in order to "break the cycle of poverty". Such statement is not only politically incorrect, but also offensive by means of its irrelevance. It may be true that some of us are financially less fortunate, but that makes us in no way dependent on the good grace of TRCC. We all work hard to pay and to manage our time to be students of the institution and it is only fair that we should be treated just as such: its students and its clients. Although some nicely worded sentences about serving the student can be found in every one of TRCC's press releases, I cannot help but think that the students are seen as nothing more than a commodity to be traded.
Secondly, TRCC has said that the SEMO staff at the centers is unfriendly and unsupportive of the Three Rivers students still taking classes there. In my experience, this is simply untrue. The staff at the centers has always been very helpful to all students without the slightest concern whether one was a TRCC, SEMO, or even GED student. Even after the split, I have never been turned down just because I am a TRCC student.
Furthermore, concerning the just recently surfaced issue regarding the paper supply at the centers, facts have thoroughly been twisted. I do not understand how TRCC can point the finger at SEMO and scream bloody murder when it was actually TRCC who failed to supply the paper. The need of the student should always come first; the need of the students in this case was not to criticize SEMO for its rationing policies afterwards, but to actually supply the paper in the first place. Once again I, as a TRCC student, find my interests used to generate public opinion.
When looking at the picture as a whole, I believe that TRCC's desperate attempts to escalate the situation even more are juvenile. The deliberate brazenness of its statements and actions does certainly not support the fact that one is dealing with an institution of higher education. Moreover, the extent to which TRCC relies on public opinion makes me wonder whether public opinion is the only leg they have to stand on in this situation: as TRCC should know, we "poverty stricken students" are well aware of the fact that if one does not pay the rent, one gets evicted.
Regarding this issue, the viewpoint of the student has so far been neglected and I believe that my opinion reflects that of many of my classmates. Without judging who is right or wrong, I do not think that it is too much to ask for some decency and respect so that I may be able to say again that I am proud to be a Three Rivers student.
Sincerely, Christian W. Raschke