The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

The night shift: Night students struggle with limited services

Enrollment Specialist Ebony Mays answers questions to prospective students March 27. She is available to assist students Monday through Thursday 9 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. Photo by Vanessa Sanchez

By Rachel Hancock

Caroline Tamayo works a regular full-time job while taking a full course load as a night student at Texas A&M-San Antonio where she is earning a master’s in counseling and guidance.

But Tamayo said it has been a struggle to balance work and school because she takes all of her classes at Brooks City-Base Campus, which doesn’t offer all of the same student services that Main Campus Building provides ten miles away.

Students who are unable to attend day classes have the opportunity to get a degree at night by taking courses between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and many do. But, some students say they often face limited student services because University offices are closed before these students arrive for class.

When presented with the concerns of Brooks’ evening students, campus administrators say there were many conversations about services prior to the move to Brooks Campus in August 2011, and that the University’s budget limits the accessibility of some services in the evening hours.

Services include student IDs, bookstore services and academic advising. All of these services are available to students at Main Campus during the day.

This presents an even bigger challenge for students like Tamayo, who take most of their classes at Brooks Campus and would like these services provided at that campus.

In fact, Tamayo has had to change her work schedule to accommodate buying a parking permit, getting advised and other services.

“Anything dealing with (the) welcome center, business office; that’s all (the) way over there so that’s kind of annoying having to make that extra trip over there and getting advising is difficult,” Tamayo said.

Tamayo feels the school should offer similar services at Brooks Campus.

Business graduate advisor Donna L. Dancak, M.A. said in an email:“The majority of the students have not mentioned having an issue in obtaining their parking permits or ID cards. When I have mentioned going to the Main Campus to obtain their parking permit or ID card, the normal response is they make arrangements with their employer.”

Dancak said the majority of business students attend in the evenings and her peak advising hours are from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.. An advisor in the School of Business is available 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.

“We take students on a walk-in basis and by appointment. We do our best to meet the needs of our students and assist them so they can be successful and achieve their academic goals,” Dancak said.

The School of Business advisers are on campus until 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, confirmed Tracy Hurley, interim associate vice president for academic affairs and school head of business. “At least one advisor is there every night and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, two advisors are there until 7 p.m.”

Patricia Hayes, director of business services, explained why the University does not offer some of these services students want to see at Brooks Campus: “Because we are a growing campus, budgetary is going to play a big part because it costs to have to set up locations, to man it,” Hayes said. “There are security issues that deal with any kind of monetary thing. We are always looking at ways we can do more things.”

The majority of all classes offered at A&M-San Antonio are split between Main Campus, Brooks Campus and Alamo University Center, 8300 Pat Booker Rd.

A little more than a third of the classes taught at Main Campus are offered at night. Main Campus offers 170 day classes and 98 evening classes.

The numbers are even greater at Brooks Campus where the majority of classes are taught in the evening. Brooks Campus offers 73 day classes and 117 evening classes, according to a report generated by enrollment services.

That ratio has many evening students arguing that if administrators are going to make an evening degree possible, then they should also receive access to the same resources and services as day students.

Marlena Herrera is a senior getting her bachelor’s in Business. She is in the same situation as Tamayo.

“I would like to see something at the Brooks Campus that does the similar functions of the welcome center, like ID processing, parking permits; even if it was just one person collecting the money and giving out the stickers,” Herrera said. “I guess just the necessities of attending school here.”

She also said it would be nice to be able to have somewhere on Brooks Campus to purchase Scantron tests, the standardized test forms frequently used in college classrooms.

There is a welcome desk inside the front entrance at Brooks Campus that offers one free Scantron to students once a day. But it depends on if someone is monitoring the front desk and if the staff person has any scantrons left.

Enrollment Specialist Ebony Mays staffs the Brooks welcome desk Monday thru Thursday from 8:00 a.m. -6:30 p.m., Dancak said.

“We do keep a small supply of Scantrons and we loan pencils to students if [students] find themselves in a bind,” Dancak said of the School of Business.

Maria Wildberger is getting her master’s in business at Brooks Campus and said, “They are never available after hours for issues such as parking permits, advising, and business office questions.”

The registrar is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 5 p.m. Friday. This schedule stays the same throughout the semester.

For the first two weeks of class, the bookstore extended their hours to 7 p.m. Following the extension, the bookstore began closing at 5:30 p.m.

Recently, the University bookstore has agreed to extend hours on Tuesdays, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., said Rick Trefzer, assistant vice president for finance and administration.

“It would be difficult to extend bookstore services to Brooks,” Trefzer said. Current store hours “are driven by sales and store traffic has been a concern. We are exploring ways to incorporate our vendor into some of our programs that will help them justify longer operating hours.”

Recently, the student fee advisory committee proposed an increase in tuition and fees by $10 per semester credit hour, which has not yet been approved. Read related story.

The increase has prompted concern among some students. Melissa Jones, an A&M-San Antonio student who attends classes at Brooks Campus, posted a comment to The Mesquite Facebook: “INCREASE??? How about providing the services that I already pay for first and then we can talk about increase.”

She added in her January post, “I go to Brooks City-Base (Campus) and pay the same tuition as the Main Campus but for some reason they get BETTER services. Everything is at the Main Campus, which I don’t attend, but for some reason the students at Brooks City-Base are fitting the same bill.”

Dr. Mary Ann Grams, associate vice president for student affairs, said at the Brooks Campus welcome desk, there is a person available to answer or assist students with questions and needs until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“We do offer services but at more limited times,” Grams said.

The University is stepping up all activities and she said, “perhaps you have noticed that when events occur, such as the Soul Food Festival, we conduct many events during the day at Main Campus, and at Brooks it was in the evening. Students can make appointment requests and personnel will be there.”

When asked if students would be able to obtain parking permits at Brooks Campus, Hayes, the business services director, explained that if money is being exchanged, the University has to provide security, which costs more money.

Margie Vasquez, director of enrollment management, said, “We only have one ID machine and it is not mobile. It’s not like a portable ID machine that we can just carry over there. If it was, then we would do that, but it’s not.”

So for now evening students at Brooks Campus will have to go to Main Campus for some services.

Tamayo said, “I don’t think it’s fair that they want to increase our fees, but I still will be getting limited access at Brooks to what I am paying for. Why pay more for something I don’t get to take full advantage of?”

About the Author

Melody Mendoza
Melody Mendoza is the Comunidad Editor for The Mesquite. Previously, she reported on the development of the year-old Main Campus Building and Brooks City-Base Campus, and has followed Texas A&M-San Antonio's growth through its plans for two new buildings. Melody is a communication-journalism major, serves on the Student Media Board and is a freelance reporter and part-time editorial assistant for the San Antonio Express-News. She is a 2008 East Central High School graduate, an award-winning reporter for The Ranger (San Antonio College's student newspaper), and a youth leader at her church.

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