Campus issues addressed at virtual town hall meeting with President Thames


El Camino College President Brenda Thames stands in her office after an interview with The Union. Thames became El Camino College’s first black, female president in July 2021 after Dena Maloney retired. Photo by Elizabeth Basile/The Union, Nov. 22.

El Camino College held a virtual town hall-style meeting featuring President Brenda Thames, on Thursday, Feb. 24.

The meeting was open to all students, staff and faculty members in the community.

During the virtual town hall, several El Camino College (ECC) community members voiced their concerns and presented questions regarding numerous issues to be addressed by President Thames.

ECC Business instructor John Mufich, asked whether the administration would be offering more online courses in the future after considering the possibility that many students would like to continue their education online rather than in person.

“I know that we need to manage the schedule to meet demand,” Thames said, “if that demand is online, then we need to continue to open more online sections where that demand is, keeping in mind that we have other learners that learn best in person and we need to provide that access as well.”

The town hall discussion also covered issues such as low enrollment at ECC and referenced competition with other colleges.

Thames said that the school is approximately 2,100 students short of their goal for enrollment. Thames added that the college administration and officials have some hard decisions ahead to make for both the current and foreseeable future as they are not in a position to turn away student enrollment.

Candra Bunn, a student at El Camino College, asked Thames about recent changes to L.A. County’s mask mandate scheduled to go into effect March 12 and how those changes will affect the mask policy of the ECC campus.

Thames acknowledged that El Camino College’s COVID Task Force is consulted on the policy concerning the pandemic requirements.

“I just want to point out L.A. West is still closed, L.A. Southwest is closed, Harbor is still closed [and] I believe Compton is still closed,” Thames said.

While some community members at ECC are eager to do away with the pandemic-era policies set by the college, others hold different opinions concerning safety.

Allen Rubin, a returning student who has been with the El Camino College community since 1979, is concerned about the loosening of restrictions for vaccinated community members as he is exempt from the vaccination. Rubin feels unsafe attending campus in person because vaccinated students and faculty are not required to get tested, nor are they required to have their temperatures checked.

“The fact that I’m the only one who has to get tested,” Rubin said, “I don’t know it’s like jumping into a pool of sharks.”

El Camino College is currently requiring students to use the World Back to Work service to obtain a wristband that grants them clearance into campus as proof of being free of COVID-19 symptoms.

“We have always aligned our work and our guide practices with the guidelines from the federal government, from the CDC, from the state and from the county,” Thames said. She also said the testing of unvaccinated individuals is required by L.A. county.

Throughout the town hall meeting, many students asked personal questions centered around topics such as campus resources and academic help. In reaction to the influx of personal student questions, Thames brought up the need for a forum to better address student grievances at El Camino College.

“We need to do a better job as a college of providing with a forum where you can get your questions and issues answered,” Thames said.


Editor’s Notes:

  • Added featured image on March 2 at 11:58 a.m.
  • Corrected factual data error for accuracy on March 2 at 2:45 p.m.
  • Added reporter name for writer’s credit on March 3 at 2:16 a.m.