Opinion: DGCE students on the back burner

It’s a Thursday night. Approximately 30 night students are crammed into dated rooms equipped with chalkboards from the 80s, rattling, voice-cancelling heat and air conditioning systems and water-stained ceiling tiles – because there’s nothing like a miserable room to keep students, most of whom have worked all day, enthused until 9:50 p.m.

These students struggle to focus for three and a half hours, periodically taking bites of whatever inadequate snacks they were able to pick up on the way to campus, and relentlessly checking the clock. They are anxious to go home and get to bed early enough to feel rested for another full day of work.

DGCE (Division of Grawduates and Continuing Education) students comprise 1,111 (23 percent) of FSU’s student population and $7,094,846 in tuition and fees each year. Seven million dollars a year should be plenty in resources to ensure DGCE students are treated as an integral part of the community – yet they are not.

Many night courses at FSU are only offered in one timeslot – 6:30 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. – to allow for most full-time workers to attend school. However, many full-time workers get out of work at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., meaning if they come to campus right from work, they may have to wait a few hours before class begins.

While it may be difficult to staff additional night classes, FSU administrators should consider ways to provide earlier night class options, so students who have already worked all day can get home earlier than 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., depending on their commute.

It is difficult for DGCE students to use the time between work and class productively because they do not have student ID cards, meaning they do not have access to resources such as the gym or RAM Cash.

Often times, students are asked for their ID numbers when at Campus Police, filling out academic forms or taking exams and without a student ID, the number is very difficult to hunt down online. Students without ID cards also do not have the well-deserved privilege of student discounts at companies that provide them with a proof of ID, such as J Crew, Kate Spade, Apple, Subway, Chipotle and countless others.

More detrimental than the 15 percent off at J Crew that FSU night students do not receive, is the thousands in scholarships that they are denied, because many valuable scholarships are not available to night students.

For example, The John and Abigail Adams Scholarships which are awarded to students across Massachusetts with high MCAS scores in high school promises free tuition to any state school in Massachusetts – that is, of course, unless you are a night student.

This is quite baffling since DGCE students spend over six times more on tuition than day students. A single undergraduate course for a day student is $162, while an undergraduate course for a DGCE student is $984.

Often times, the reason many students choose to go to school at night is because they cannot afford their education and have no choice but to work during the day. These are the same students who are also not typically granted financial aid because their income is too high – despite their personal expenses such as family, rent or mortgage.

For DGCE students, going to school is an unceasing and time-consuming challenge of juggling school, work and personal life.

FSU administrators should be making efforts to facilitate the academic experience for these students to prevent them from inevitably dropping out. These efforts could be as simple as providing DGCE students with ID cards, DGCE specific scholarships, a place to gather and student club or event opportunities.

These privileges would not be a challenge for administrators to provide, as they are, in fact, just basic features available to any day student (who pays much less). Basically, DCGE students should be treated as real students – important fixtures to campus climate and community. They should receive all the benefits available to day students, because they certainly deserve it.

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