No LARC, No Problem? Not Really.

After seeing the drastic budget cuts and tuition hikes from the 2010-11 school year, any type of financial action taken by the University of California system shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore.

However, recognizing the previous trends didn’t make the announcement to cut most of the LARC (Learning and Academic Resource Center) programs any easier to handle.

An email from the Division of Undergraduate Education was sent out in early August informing students that the department had, “received a 10.6 percent permanent budget reduction for fiscal year 2011-12,” causing them to, “eliminate services provided by most professional staff within this unit and reduce the size of its peer tutoring operation to a size that is self-supporting.”

With that, the majority of the LARC programs were completely eliminated for fall 2011, with the exception of the four remaining biology tutorials, two chemistry workshops and one math class.

For several students, LARC was a place of refuge  that light at the end of the tunnel that offered hope and inspiration for passing even the toughest classes. With the sudden elimination, many people are realizing just how important these programs really were — some things are not truly missed and appreciated until they are out of sight.

“I feel that the cuts made to LARC are going to affect students very negatively,” said UCI alumni and former LARC tutor Jennifer Wang. “LARC is not just about teaching students the material — it is about teaching them how to become better learners.”

While it is disappointing that students will not have access to this learning resource and opportunity anymore, there are certain people who will be affected by these cuts more than others.

For many students studying subjects in the math and science fields, LARC tutorials were crucial for mastering the difficult material. These subjects were easy to tutor because the information was “black and white” in a sense; there was either a right or wrong answer, and students could be taught specific ways to master and memorize the material every time.

However, students studying subjects in the arts or humanities did not receive exactly the same benefits from LARC. While there were tutorials for the Humanities Core course and other writing or editing services, these programs were not crucial in order for students to pass certain classes.

After looking back on experiences in different courses for the arts and humanities, most of the members on the New U Editorial Board realized that if they ever needed help, teaching assistants and peers were usually at their service. These resources could look over a specific essay or answer questions about the course material. The topics in the arts and humanities are usually subjective and don’t often have a right or wrong answer. Students can’t really be tutored on a method of how to write an essay that works every time. Each essay is different, so students seek help on a case-by-case basis, instead of enrolling in a general tutorial.

Despite the differences in the subjects and courses that were well-suited for LARC tutorials and those that were not, the greater issue still remains: The UC budget crisis is affecting our educational experience from every angle of attack, even in the somewhat seemingly insignificant areas.

Even if majors in the humanities and the arts did not use LARC tutorials very often, the service could still be used as a job opportunity. In the past, students could sign up to be peer-writing tutors, but now that job has vanished as well. Students who had been hired for these positions over the summer were told that they were no longer needed shortly after receiving the job. Not being able to find work during this time of need makes surviving limited services and fee hikes even harder to manage.

LARC is just one of the many examples of actions that are being taken to undermine the quality of the UC education.

The University of California used to be an affordable avenue for California residents to receive a valuable and good education. Now it is becoming more difficult to afford and students are receiving less for what they pay.

Solutions for the budget crisis are being heavily considered by UC Regents and other officials, but it’s time for students to take a stand. LARC may seem to be the cut that has the greatest effect on students at the moment, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. It’s time to make a change.

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