by Hannah Garcia, Reporter
Lone Star College – Kingwood’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey is a journey that continues with the effort of faculty, staff, and students. Harvey has left only the Student Conference Center (SCC) and the Music Instruction Building (MIB) available to students. Due to this, courses are being held either online or at other campuses. With LSC-Kingwood possibly re-opening in Spring 2019, the road for recovery is progressing with optimism from students and professors.
“The loss of the campus was devastating,” said Katherine Garcia, a second year LSC-Kingwood student. “It is unfortunate that the Kingwood campus will not reopen until Spring of 2019, but it is understandable considering the amount of damage.”
There was a monthly meeting that took place on February 1, 2018, where The Lone Star College System Board of Trustees heard an update regarding the approval of classroom trailers at the Kingwood campus and the impact financially from Harvey. LSCS filed for $34 million of public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and it is said that FEMA began visiting campuses that were affected by Harvey in January and will be finished in February. Although Harvey damaged the Kingwood campus, it did not affect the amount of enrollment according to officials. It is said that the amount of students taking courses at LSC campuses have remained the same while the number of credit hours that they are taking has decreased by three percent.
After being informed with these reports, the board approved several agenda items that will aid the Harvey recovery fund. The board authorized for the installation of mobile classroom trailers at the Kingwood campus to accommodate for academic programs that were previously held in the campus’s buildings that were affected. The estimated cost of installing mobile classroom trailers is $226,000. This fund will be reimbursed from insurance proceeds, FEMA, cash reserves, and bond funds.
Students agree that the Kingwood campus is missed, however feelings of hope are felt about the outcome.
“Although I do miss the Kingwood campus,” said Lena Taylor, a second-year LSC-Kingwood student, “I really feel as if there are great things that are coming out of this and am confident that Kingwood will come back greater than ever.”
Repairs to flood-damaged buildings may not be fully complete until May of 2019, causing several in-person courses to not be commonly held at LSC-Kingwood for the entire year. It is expected that the sanitation of the buildings will take approximately a month and then there will be re-construction for flooring, walls, ceilings, cabinets, wiring, elevators, and doors for the damaged buildings. In addition, a numerous amount of files were not able to be salvaged from the damaged buildings. Medical mannequins for nursing students and dental seats designed for dental hygiene students are in the process of being replaced.
While the Kingwood campus continues on the road for recovery, students and professors have been experiencing learning and teaching at other campuses as well as online.
“Before Harvey, I never thought much about LSC’s other campuses,” said Taylor. “I am taking courses at the Atascocita Center and I enjoy it here. I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel to other beautiful campuses to learn.”
Students agreed that they realized their enjoyment in travelling to other LSC locations.
“I’m enjoying it really well.” said Leo Garcia, a second-year LSC-Kingwood student. “I enjoy travelling to other campuses to experience new things and expanding my learning by working at home. I find it quite refreshing.”
However, there are students that feel differently about the changes.
“There were definitely pros and cons to taking my courses online,” said Katherine Garcia. “The pros are that I did not have to go on campus for class but the drawbacks were that it was challenging learning the material in an online format and the testing center was always crowded during my exams.”
There are also students who had difficulty converting to online courses, but found resolution.
“I found it difficult at first being converted to online classes,” said Taylor. “Then I had a change of heart and began to enjoy learning online as well as the other campuses.”
As a result of these changes, students and professors have spoken about how it has impacted their methods of learning and teaching.
“Yes it did,” said Leo, when asked if the change has impacted his method of learning. “I am used to learning from a professor in-person. With the changes, it has made me use textbooks more often and rely more on it than face-to-face lectures. Learning more out of textbooks has created my interest in learning more from books and reading. However, a negative impact it has on me [is] that if I have a question, it is much more difficult to get help from professors because I am not in-person with them.”
Conflict with methods of learning was felt among students.
“My method of learning has been impacted with these changes.” said Garcia. “Having all online classes made me feel as if I needed to teach myself most of the material and I always felt secluded from other students since there was no face-to-face interaction.”
Students and professors have found themselves being introduced to other LSC locations. The Lone Star College-Process Technology Center has seen a significant increase in student enrollment. This center opened in 2017 and was originally designed for students enrolled in the Process Technology program.The 40,200 square foot center has added more options for students and professors to enroll in and teach courses there. For students and professors who have courses there, the campus arranged additional parking at a garage located at Subsea Drive that is minutes away from the building, and for those who parked there, a shuttle picks them up to transport them to and from the building.
Lone Star College -Atascocita Center has also seen an increase in student enrollment. The Atascocita Center provides students local access to programs, workforce training, student services, tutoring, events, computer labs, and laboratories. Although students and professors spoke about how the impact the changes had on their methods of learning and teaching, the capabilities of these centers have stood out to them.
“I am currently taking a chemistry course at LSC-Process Technology Center,” said Garcia. “I never thought I would enjoy taking a course at a different campus. It’s beautiful here, and it actually has made me realize how beautiful the other LSC campuses truly are.”
Although LSC-Kingwood will be progressing towards full recovery through this year, students and professors find themselves seeing opportunity within everything that has happened with Lone Star College.
“I hope they update things throughout the campus for students,” said Leo. “I hope they make it even more beautiful than before, and I believe that the campus will re-innovate excellent additions for both students and professors in the future.”
Students have their own hopes for the Kingwood campus and spoke about their experience currently with Kingwood being on the road to recovery.
“I hope for the campus to go back to normal,” said Garcia, “I hope it can resume its normal schedule and I look forward to being able to taking in-person courses again. Although losing the campus was devastating, I find myself enjoying other campuses and find that I have gained out of these changes.”
With differences in impact and hopes, students agreed that they are looking forward with optimism to the campus reopening next year.
“I am really looking forward to being back on the Kingwood campus next year,” said Taylor. “I believe that the campus will be even greater than before and I am confident that they will add amazing things for all students, professors, and faculty.”