On Oct. 29, the Adult Degree Program students at Cal Poly realized that their dreams of achieving a Cal Poly education had turned into a nightmare. Brian Tietje, the dean of continuing education and university outreach, sent students a letter explaining that Cal Poly could no longer “provide the level of support that is necessary for the long-term success and viability” of the Adult Degree Program.
He is proposing to discontinue the program, and in the process, he is closing the door to a Cal Poly education for all older, returning students in the local community.
In preparation for the discontinuation of the Adult Degree Program, Dean Tietje has stopped holding public information sessions about the program, stopped accepting applications to the program, slashed classes and denied students the opportunity to have a say in the courses we take. He has said that we can graduate if we just sacrifice a little more.
Never in our wildest imaginations did we think that the very institution we have worked so hard to be a part of would erect the greatest barrier to our education. Let us be clear, we, the Adult Degree Program students, love Cal Poly.
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During our time in the Adult Degree Program, our hunger for knowledge was satisfied by professors from all six academic colleges, covering many disciplines. We have learned the sacred value of an education and in the process, we have become better parents, workers and community members. We have also learned that with an education comes a great civic responsibility to make our world better for those who come after us.
These lessons have come with great personal sacrifice. We are not wealthy students. We pay for our education by working overtime, taking on second jobs and slashing our family budgets. We study during our coffee breaks and write persuasive essays in the late hours of the night after our children have gone to bed. We have overcome great obstacles to sit in a classroom at Cal Poly.
We will continue to rally under the banner of a cherished, yet dying principle of educational access for all. We know that we cannot win this fight alone. We call on Cal Poly administrators, faculty and staff, as well as the local community, to protect this sacred principle and support our fight to reject Dean Tietje’s proposal and save the Adult Degree Program.
Ron Supat has been part of the Adult Degree Program at Cal Poly for two years.