Experimental College classes resume for Spring Quarter

After the suspension of Experimental College (EC) in December due to financial insecurity, the program will once again offer classes beginning April 14.

ASUCD Senate approved reinstatement of classes for spring on March 13, and the launch of EC’s website went live April 8, allowing students to register for Spring Quarter classes.

Although EC officially depleted its reserves, it will resume this quarter and offered classes will pay for themselves. Already having paid ASUCD a recharge fee back in July to cover expenses and for Creative Media’s services, EC will therefore not need additional funding to run during  the spring. The EC hopes that class fees will allow it to break even for the rest of the academic school year.

“The reinstatement of classes for spring 2014 will be revenue neutral or revenue positive,” said Richard Schubert, chair of EC’s Instructors Advisory Board. “No ASUCD funds are being used in order to reinstate classes for spring.”

Creative Media, an ASUCD unit, has been crucial in the success of EC as the program heavily relies on its website. According to Schubert, EC has requested that Creative Media create a fully functioning website to allow online registration for over five years. Prior to the site that was produced this past fall, students were required to sign up at EC in person at its Silo office. Also, EC previously relied on print media marketing, such as The California Aggie, which provided course catalogs in its issues. However, as the popularity of print media has declined, so has the effectiveness of EC’s marketing campaign.

“Experimental College became increasingly dependent on Creative Media because Experimental College is required by ASUCD to use Creative Media as its sole internet services provider,” Schubert said. “So the Experimental College was dependent on Creative Media to advertise for it and produce the website but Creative Media didn’t deliver.”

Now that the website is up and running, EC will offer Tai Chi 1, Tai Chi Advanced, Xingyi and Baguazhang, Hapkido, Hapkido Advanced, TKD, Aikido, Lindy Hop, Fencing, Beginning Social Dance, Continuing/Intermediate Social Dance and Learn to Meditate classes. To help out funding, EC has decided to only offer classes that have proven to be profitable in previous years.

Due to the suspension of classes, two-thirds of instructors have been lost, leaving 10 remaining instructors for spring. Instructors will receive 50 percent of course fees rather than the 70 percent previously earned, while EC receives the remaining 50 percent. Instructors were willing to work without compensation in the face of suspension, but the University prohibited it because of risk management. The EC office manager was let go and other changes have been made to accommodate the program financially.

“When the ASUCD Experimental College Task Force embarked on a plan to bring classes back for spring 2014, they decided to create a campaign to secure enrollment pledges in advance,” said Janice Corbett, ASUCD business manager. “Per the plan, if the pledges are fulfilled then the ASUCD Experimental College will be financially stable this quarter.”

Whether or not EC will offer classes after Spring Quarter depends on ASUCD’s approval of budget allocation and its financial operation this quarter.

“The EC Gardens will soon be renewing their gardening agreements, which will lead to an expected income stream of over $13K,” Corbett said. “Therefore, if the EC can stabilize its financial picture with regards to the classes this quarter, then the unit would be projected to end the year with a small amount in its reserves.”

ASUCD’s budget hearings will determine whether EC’s stay will extend past the academic year.

Although EC is facing numerous transformations, it remains to uphold its mission.

“One change the students will not see is a change of atmosphere,” said Amrit Sahota, former ASUCD senator and member of the EC Task Force. “The EC has always presented students with a different learning environment which many participants cherish. That teaching method will not change.”

NICOLE YI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.