By Marco Leon | Staff Writer
Kapiʻolani Community College offers tutoring at the Study Hub (located on the second floor of Lama Library), the STEM Center (on the second floor of the Kokiʻo building), and online tutoring through MyUH Services known as tutor.com.
But due to budget cuts and a reduction in grant money to the Math/Science department and Lama Library, the hours have been drastically reduced for both tutoring and study area use by more than 24 hours a week each.
“I have gaps between morning and evening classes,” said 31-year-old Rey Urbano, who used tutoring at both Study Hub and STEM and visited the STEM Center. “I try to take care of my research stuff during those times though. STEM and the library used to be accessible on weekends, but not anymore. It definitely makes it harder for students like me. I can’t find a place to study, I waste more time finding someplace to study. Most of my friends had to opt to use UH Mānoa facilities for study and tutoring.”
The Study Hub offers tutoring services for all levels of math and writing. In previous semesters, the hours of operation were Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The new hours, which started in the Fall 2019 semester, are now Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and now closed on Friday, cutting a total of 24 hours a week. And with many students taking the majority of their courses between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is difficult for them to seek out tutoring.
Lama Library not only offers tutoring services, but it also provides a study area and a testing center. Annie Thomas, the current acting director for Lama Library, explained how the budget cuts impacted the library hours. The budget was reduced by 20 percent, which ultimately led to the decision of reducing student help and opening the testing center later
“Upstairs, the Study Hub tutoring is a little bit different situation because actually, that was for the last few years funded by a grant,” Thomas said. “It’s a Title III grant, which is a federal grant. That grant ended just at the beginning of this semester [Fall 2019], so there was a little carryover money. That’s why we reduced the hours because we didn’t get the same income from that grant as before. So luckily, the UH system requested funds from the legislature for tutoring, some of that did come to our campus. That’s how we are able to maintain the hours that we have now. We just don’t have as much as we did before so we couldn’t maintain pay for tutors at the old hours.”
According to 18-year-old Emily Martinez, a receptionist for the Study Hub, there have been fewer students going in for help. Martinez believes that part of it is due to a lack of awareness and the later opening time.
“A lot of people don’t know about the Study Hub; there should be a better way to inform,” Martinez said. “If we could open a bit earlier like we did last semester, it would help those students with last-minute questions. There have been a few that come in at 9 a.m. and have class at 9:15 a.m.”
Gerome Ramos, 34, is a returning student who is employed full time at Famous Footwear. In the previous year, Ramos relied on the help of the tutors due to their availability on Fridays.
“It was nice because my schedule as a manager is consistent and has allowed me to come back to school,” he said. “I take classes that fit within the week and take off Monday and Fridays off. I have been away for so long that getting into the groove was difficult, but I could always count on tutors for help. Now, I can’t see them for help, because my classes overlap with the shorter times. By the time I get out of class, I have to hurry to make it on time for work.”
Kai Tang is a 21-year-old student who works as a writing and math tutor at the Study Hub. He noticed that there have been fewer students coming in to seek help due to the hour changes. As a student, Tang also misses out on tutoring help because of his course load. When class is over, the Study Hub is closed, and he is unable to ask for help during shifts since other students are there seeking help.
“I stay after we close so that I can study, and [I] sometimes forget to take my name badge off,” Tang said. “I’ve noticed that even after the Study Hub is closed, students come in at 3:30 p.m. to get help. I feel bad that I have to tell them that we’re closed and that it’s my time to study. This has happened more than once.”
The STEM Center tutoring services cover a majority of the STEM-based Majors like Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Botany. It also provides seating areas for students to lounge, study, and catch up. The previous hours were Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. The new Fall 2019 hours are Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Although the hours have been reduced by more than 25 1/2 hours a week, STEM offers two extra hours compared to the Study Hub.
Keanu Rochette-Yu Tsuen is a 20-year-old third-year KCC student and a peer mentor at the STEM Center. Budget cuts reduced the number of funds available for peer mentors, which in turn led to fewer peer mentors coming back for the Fall 2019 semester. He said that he has noticed that STEM has time gaps where it is empty, and it is hard to see the resource no longer utilized as much as before.
“STEM is funded through a grant, and most of the tutors were international students, experts in their fields,” Tsuen said. “The grant now only qualifies U.S. citizens to become tutors. Among the few tutors, there are fewer classes we can cover. We don’t have tutors covering higher upper-level classes like Biology 265, 275, and Calculus 3. We can cover up to the top half of the general ed courses like Calculus 2, Organic Chemistry. Because of the budget cuts, my hours were reduced from 15 hours per week to 5 hours per week. The dynamic between student and teacher versus student and student is drastically different. When the material is explained by another student, then you can see through your own lens. Whereas going to a teacher for help, sometimes it’ll be exactly how it was presented in class so it’s difficult to have a different perspective. “
Online tutoring is accessible through MyUH services offered by tutor.com. This is a new service that began Spring 2019, replacing brainfuse.com. One of the downsides to tutor.com is the time allotted to each student is 10 hours per semester. Brainfuse had no time limit. Some students have complained that they struggled to find a tutor that could help, and by the time one that was proficient on the material, their time was reduced by the wait time.
Jean Cabrales, a 19-year-old liberal arts student, takes a majority of her classes online and has struggled with the shorter hours and new online tutoring help.
“I have three online courses and one lab that I have to be on campus for on Fridays,” she said. “I miss out on tutoring because they are closed on the day I’m here. I liked the old tutoring site we had and recently had to use tutor.com. There was one time I was transferred through five different tutors because none understood the topic. I gave up after that and 45 minutes of my time was wasted. At that rate, the 10 hours doesn’t seem like a whole lot.”