The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Cuts leave chem labs out of balance

Student Chemistry Stockroom worker Euna Kim organizes supplies while in the Chemistry Stockroom. (Julius Rea/ The Inquirer 2010)

Budget cuts have left the DVC chemistry department struggling with a shortage of laboratory support workers and instructors have been forced to turn students away.

Lab support has been insufficient “up to the point of having to cancel a class because a lab was not prepared,” said chemistry professor Ron Rusay.

Kenneth Myambo, a full-time chemistry lab coordinator, Ellena Kutner, a part-time lab assistant and 13 student workers currently make up the lab support staff.

Myambo said the chemistry department needs the equivalent of 2.5 full-time lab coordinators and a total of 15 to 18 student workers to sufficiently support the chemistry labs.

Student workers are responsible for creating and preparing necessary chemical compounds, setting up labs for instructors and providing tutoring services, Myambo said.

“The students do provide significant support to the chemistry department,” said Myambo.

“Without the lab support, you can’t do the same number or quality of labs that you need in a college chemistry class,” said Rusay.

“There should be two full-time workers. In a perfect world, three would be great,” Rusay said. “Without Kenneth and Ellena, we wouldn’t be able to run the program.”

The chemistry department has been dealing with the staff reductions while at the same time trying to enforce limits to the size of laboratory classes.

According to department chair Mary Ulrich, a few sections have more than 28 students, but there are only 28 stations in a laboratory.

The state looks at the total number of students, not particular overcapped courses, and will not pay for extra class sections when the college is over capacity, said Ulrich. 

Chemistry professor Wayne Larson said there is a little “wiggle room” for additional students in the lecture classes but labs are not as flexible.

Larson said he had a waiting list long enough to fill two extra sections.

“It’s a crying shame that I’m allowed a class max of so many people and I reach that max and there are so many people standing there,” said assistant chemistry professor Craig Gerken.

Contact Julius Rea at [email protected] and Gerardo Recinos at [email protected]

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Cuts leave chem labs out of balance