Most West Bloomfield High School (WBHS) students know of a certain pep rally tradition all too well. It can be heard echoed in the gymnasium if you have the unfortunate luck of sitting next to a pack of raucous teenage boys during a pep rally or sporting event. The chanting of the acronym OCC, short for Oakland Community College, is used to put down WBHS seniors and implies that most in their graduating class are not ‘intelligent’ enough to get into a “normal” university. Rumor has it that this tradition has been at West Bloomfield for quite some time. If this has been going on for so long, it begs to be questioned. Where did this trend of putting down community college students begin, and how can we get this stigma to end at WBHS?
Firstly, most students do not even understand how beneficial attending community college can benefit a student’s educational career. Every student has a unique situation and goal for his or her education, and if community college is apart of that, it is a perfectly respectable option. According to WBHS resident college advisor Ms. Bartus, community college is becoming increasingly popular for its flexibility and comparatively low cost. It is also used as a stepping stone to a 4 year university. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education say that more than 40% of college aged students have attended a community college, so it’s not as uncommon as it’s made out to be.
Many community colleges have a smaller ratio of students to professor, so students can foster worthwhile relationships with their teachers. At most universities, hundreds of students can be in one lecture hall, and getting the chance to speak to a professor seems impossible. Students at community colleges benefit more by getting to ask questions and fully grasp the concepts they’re learning. At universities professors often conduct research, and their main focus is not on teaching. Yet, by having small class sizes, many students find learning and focusing in class much easier at any community college. The students have the liberty to thrive in an environment where the faculty are focused on teaching as their main priority.
Another benefit many community colleges feature is the to have hands on experience in a variety of technical fields. Programs such as Nursing, Welding, Culinary Arts, Dental Health, Paralegal Training, and Cosmetology are all fields in which community colleges are advantaged in providing. Students at community colleges get hands-on training with their career path that can help them in the future.The flexibility of community college also gives students the chance to pursue their studies and gain hands on experience in their selected field at the same time.
If community college has so many apparent benefits, why does this chant and the negative stereotype surrounding community college still persist? To find the answer, Spectrum asked a broad variety of current and former WBHS students about how they felt about the OCC chant, and what their perception of community college actually was.
According to Aliza Durack, senior, “Elitism concerning colleges is definitely an issue here. I think it’s just an environment that is started by kids and perpetuated by adults.” Fellow senior Matthew Taub agreed saying, “I’ll admit that I’ve kinda been raised with having a stigma towards community college, but it’s actually a great opportunity for lot of students to move forward.” Azariah Jones, senior, believes that the stigma may exist at WBHS because, “there’s a tradition of having to go to a campus, going to a university, and living the college life.” He admitted that community college does not fit that tradition, and that there may be elitism because people think that community college is meant for poorer students. This compares to how people who attend private schools may look down upon public school students.
Jordan Swanigan, senior, insists that there are “two sides to [community college]. The good side is it gives a person who slacked off in high school a chance to restart. The bad side is, you shouldn’t have slacked off in high school, you should’ve did your work. Me personally though, I slacked off. If I wasn’t playing football, I probably would do a semester at OCC”. Eulojio Rodriguez, senior, admits that, “Some of [the chanters] take it as a joke . . . but most most of them are probably gonna go there. Probably because it’s a smarter choice.”
Lastly, we also spoke with a former WBHS student who also attended Oakland Community College. Alyssa Ford, now a junior at Oakland University, believes that when she went to WBHS, “the whole thought of OCC was a joke, and after seeing it for myself I don’t understand why. It is a good alternative and a great option for people that feel as though 4 years is not good for them. Especially if you have someone who only wants to take a couple of credits to see if college is really something that they want to do. . .” She also informed us that the chanting tradition began long before this year’s seniors were freshman. Alyssa claims that OCC hecklers may have negative feelings towards community college because, “it’s more or less the kids seeing or hearing from like their parents or just around that that community college is something you don’t want to aspire to go to.”
Tell us in the comments below about your take on this issue!