Cal State LA students call for more online classes next semester


Cal State LA is expected to continue providing students with online and hybrid classes in the Spring 2022 semester.

Mia Alva, Managing Editor

Many students at Cal State LA are not thrilled that the majority of classes offered next semester will be in-person. 

“I started this petition because if not me, then who?” said Nicolette Elia, a second-year transfer student. “Sitting around hoping for things to change will not accomplish anything.”

Elia decided to start an online petition calling to give students more options for online courses. The petition was created on Oct. 20 and now has over 3,600 signatures. 

Even though she is fully vaccinated, Elia would still prefer to take online courses next semester.

“My mental health has significantly gone down because of this pandemic, and by being forced to go in person, risking my mental and physical health, that will only make matters worse,” she said.

Elia believes there should be options for both students who want to be in-person or online since many people are in different situations. 

“As an institution, they have the responsibility to maintain the well-being and safety of every single student and staff member in that school, as well as providing accommodations and giving us all equal access to education,” said Elia. “They are failing to do both.” 

When the University Times reached out to the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at Cal State LA on Oct. 27 by email, the department said that the university was aware of the petition started by Elia. Administrators also shared some information on the percentage of online classes next semester. 

“Of the classes that Cal State LA offers for the spring semester, 12.5% are hybrid or online,” said the university.

On Nov. 3, the UT received an emailed response from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs that said that the current spring 2022 schedule has over 600 hybrid or online formatted classes. This makes up about 16% of offered classes. The university is working with faculty to add more hybrid or online classes and expects 20% of spring courses to be offered online or in hybrid formats.

This week, some faculty reported they were told it was closer to 25%.

In an informal survey, the University Times asked students if they would prefer strictly in-person classes or a mix of both online and in-person classes for spring. Out of the 259 responses, 15% said they would like to be fully in-person while 85% said they want a mix of both. 

“These past semesters at home I was able to take more classes due to the fact that I was at home,” said Karina Valdez, a social work major. “I am a full-time student that works full-time and will be a first-time mom this upcoming spring semester. I was hoping they offered more online classes so people like myself can spend more time at home while still getting our education.”

Valdez was “bummed” to see that most classes were planning to be in-person. 

She said that she signed Elia’s petition hoping that she can have some time next semester to bond with her expected child. 

Despite the many students calling for more online options, there are still others like Abel Guillen, a mechanical engineering major, who prefer classes to be fully in-person.

“I kind of missed a lot of hands-on opportunities, like machining a flashlight, a gearbox, some robots, and other cool projects that I could have done if COVID never happened,” said Guillen. “Sometimes I felt like last year was more of a waste.”

Guillen said he does not feel like he learned anything last semester in an online setting because of distractions at home, like his phone. When his professors pre-recorded their lectures, he noticed that “hardly anyone watched it” because there were less views on the video compared to the amount of students in his class. 

“I think being in-person would help us be more social and just have more motivation than sitting in front of a bright screen for the majority of your day,” he said. 

As a tutor for the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Student Success Center, Guillen did not see the online environment fit for his interactions with other students. He said that all of them had their cameras off, and he would receive full silence when he asked a question. 

“It was really tough to make them socialize with each other and make them understand the material because they didn’t really focus,” he said. “I can’t really blame them. I do the same.”

Now, Guillen is able to tutor in-person, and his current students are “learning more and are more invested.” He can see that they are actually doing their work, and they are more involved by asking questions. 

Other students, like kinesiology major Michael Rodriguez, would prefer a mix of both in-person and online classes. 

“When attending in-person classes, I feel obligated to pay attention, and I’m also free from any distractions,” said Rodriguez. “This allows me to essentially do classwork and take the class in a more efficient way. On the other hand, taking an online class allows me to create my own time to work on classwork for that particular class and do it all from the comfort of my home.”

Rodriguez did not know about Elia’s petition, but he said he would sign it to have both online and in-person classes. 

Elia decided to take a winter course so that she will have one less class to take in-person: “$980 is a lot for one course, but I prefer that over the stress of an in-person class.”

Elia said she has emailed President William Covino, Vice President Jose Gomez and the president’s assistant, Ana Caudillo, multiple times regarding the petition. 

“I haven’t gotten a response back from any of them, but I will continue emailing them every single week until I get an answer,” she said. “That’s the least I ask for with this petition. A response to our concerns and acknowledgment of the situation so that students’ voices can at least be heard, regardless if it’s approved or rejected.”