DVC debates for shorter semesters


Katharine Hada

Miranda Konoplisky addresses the audience on the benefits of shorter semesters at the DVC speech and debate night, Tuesday April 19 in Pleasant Hill.

Katharine Hada, Co-editor-in-chief

The Diablo Valley College speech team thrilled audience members, Tuesday April 19, with their program highlighting the hard work, passion and eloquence of a few speech and debate team members.

Audience members were privileged to individual dramatic interpretations, informative speeches, as well as programmed poetry and oral interpretations.

The individual speeches included poignant messages on the use of euphemisms to convey difficult messages, the life and health benefits of playing video games, catcalling and it’s effects on women, and a poem questioning black privilege.

Speakers Avangeline Balingit, Amanda Wandesforde, Marie Rollins, and N’dea Johnson were able to create powerfully moving messages about their respective topics which had the audience laughing, crying, and screaming praise in agreement. All four women were able to seamlessly shift between characters they were portraying, whether it be a naive crafts woman from Alaska, a conversation between a loud man catcalling and a sassy woman defending herself, or a cheerfully racist infomercial.

The highlight and grand finale of the evening was the heated debate addressing the pros and cons of shortening DVC’s semesters from 18 weeks to 16. The deficit two weeks would be made up by lengthening individual class time by 10 minutes. 

Starting off the debate was Miranda Konoplisky, who spoke about the pros in making the switch.

“DVC leads the way in the longest semesters, at 18 weeks, as opposed to other schools who have 16 week semesters,” said Konoplisky. Most UC’s and CSU’s are on the quarter system, which have shorter cycles. She questioned the point of DVC’s high transfer ratings, at 67%, the top in the state, if students are unprepared and panic once they do transfer. “A shorter semester cycle would help prep students for their workload after DVC and mean less transfer panic. It would help promote student sanity.”

Christina Smith was quick to follow with a rebuttal on the cons, stating, “UC’s and CSU’s want students they know will succeed. Shorter semesters would not help students with STEM majors, because it would mean shorter lab time, or having to come in on weekends. Pushing classes into less time means more stressful semesters. It’s also harder to get a good work schedule with longer classes.”

Up next for the pro side was Balingit, who got students cheering when she stated, “STEM majors are already hard working. They chose those majors, they know the hard work needed. Class times are already weird. Adding on 10 minutes wouldn’t do much. With four extra weeks of vacation per semester, you could finally have time to go to Coachella! You could go to all the Coachellas! Fall Coachella, Spring Coachella, whatever!”

Alan Fishman made the final comment for the con side, stating simply, “Fewer students will take the difficult subjects if classes are harder and class time is longer.”

In their final wrap up, Konoplisky and Smith spoke one last time, hitting the hard points of their arguments.

“Teachers say shortening the semesters are a bad idea,” said Smith, “We should listen. It’s hard to understand the material if you’re rushing through it.”

“Shorter semesters would mean students are ready for transfer and not in a position where they have to come back to DVC because they weren’t ready.” said Konoplisky.

The winners of the debate were decided by audience applause, and it was no surprise that the audience majority went to the pro side, fighting for shorter semesters.

For more information on joining the DVC speech and debate team, visit their website at dvcforensics.org.