The value of a Thank You


Karla Enriquez

Physical Education Instructor and Coach Debbie Jensen coined the term “Power of a Thank You.” Jensen believes the work of the staff is shown through the multiple awards won by students and their success.

Karla Enriquez, Editor-in-Chief

Physical Education Instructor and Coach Debbie Jensen sat in the back of the Cheryl A. Epple Board Room on Wednesday, January 22 with a sign that read “The Power of a Thank You.”

While the Cerritos College Faculty Federation President Solomon Namala addressed the board, Coach Jensen occupied one of the back rows, quietly holding up her sign.

Since then, the slogan has appeared across campus and is seen in the red shirts that the faculty federation wear.

“I was trying to figure out a connection to why would faculty deserve to have a raise, what would make the board feel like they should give us a raise.”

She continued, “For some reason I [thought] ‘ok the students get to say thank you in these ways and how would [the board] say thank you, and I said well the thank you from the board would be in the salary schedule.

“It sort of snowballed from there to how powerful would it be if they would give us a raise and then it went to that would be their thank you.”

Jensen contacted Kinesiology Club President Amanda Passi in January, who assisted her in making the poster with the slogan.

“She told me to make the sign and then I started to understand what it was for so I was really happy I did make [it],” Passi expressed.

She sympathized with the struggle part-time professors encounter at the college.

“Part-time faculty have been dubbed freeway flyers because of the back and forth trying to create a steady income and they can’t just work at one institution, they have to work at several.

“I’ve known people who go to Citrus and Asuza, all the way down to Golden West in Huntington Beach, so I’m totally behind the faculty’s movement, they’re people they should be given a decent raise.”

Passi is referring to the contract negotiation that is currently taking place between the faculty union and the district to get a complete contract.

According to Jensen, the negotiations are at an impasse.

She stated, “It would be powerful for the faculty, you can make the faculty feel better with this raise because that would show that you value us, so the power of that type of a thank you.

“[It is] just an analogy for telling us that you appreciate what we do.”

At the Wednesday, February, 17 board meeting, Cerritos College President Dr. Jose Fierro stated that the faculty are being presented a competitive raise citing data he has viewed.

He continued, “10 percent over a period of three years will cost the district about 10.3/10.4 million in additional salaries,” he stated.

Instructor and Librarian Stephanie Rosenblatt believes there is a difference in perspectives.

“I think everyone in this situation wants to do a good job and wants to serve the students, we just have different perspectives.

“For a long time on this campus money has been saved I would say on the backs of the instructors and also on the backs of staff.

“Staff got a nice raise this year but it has been a couple years since they have gotten a raise. For faculty, the majority of our classes are taught by part-time faculty, those people are paid the lowest of anyone in this area and that is exploitive.

“I don’t think the district would exploit anyone on purpose, it has things it wants to get done and it wants to get the most out of its budget,” she stated.

Rosenblatt expressed that this situation is bad because if the school pays the lowest out of anyone in the area, the institution becomes a revolving door.

This poses a conflict for students who may come back to get recommendation letters from previous professors who may have looked for employment elsewhere.

Rosenblatt also expressed the issue with office hours for part-timers and how that affects students.

“We don’t pay part-timers for more than eight hours of office hours a semester, so that person will schedule those office hours when he or she thinks it is most needed

“But if you need help another time you have to email that person and that person is a responsible teacher, they will email you back but we’re asking them to work for free.”

She continued, “I’ve even had students tell me that they are reluctant to ask those people for help because they know they are working for free. It just makes me sad because I feel like students are being short-change on the quality of their education. […] I think we can do better.”

Board president Dr. Shin Liu stated in the past that she agrees more should be done for the part-time faculty.

“Our part-time faculty has office hours, it was one of the very very few colleges, but I agree that we should do more.”

Coach Jensen noted that as time has gone by, the meaning of “Power of a Thank You” has changed.

“Once it got out there I was thinking about it, it has sense taken another meaning for me. It is much broader than that and I could apply it to anything.

“I was joking around with some of my friends and they said ‘thank you’ and I said ‘oh my god, that made me feel so good, see the power of a thank you,'” she said.

Jensen believes this gesture makes people feel good because it shows genuine acknowledgement and care.

“Who gives an insincere thank you? Who would ever do that? Why would you? Somebody says thank you, you say wow they noticed me. The power of a thank you works for the person who receives it but also the giver,” the coach noted.

The coach likened the board’s behavior to that of a parents ignoring their child.

“You want to make your parents proud. If your parents ignored you all the time, how would that feel? Not that we work for them to come by and say ‘hey great job every single day,'” she said.

Jensen however expressed that the union receives lots of thank you’s from the faculty.

She continued, “The people that you are essentially working for don’t care about what you do, I’m not saying all board members, I’m just making a general statement.

“When you hold up the raise, because that is really the only way you say thank you, when you hold that up, that tell us clearly that you don’t care about the work that we do.”

She went on, “It just comes across to the faculty and myself that we have to go prove our worth, we have to go to the board meeting and say ‘we’ve done this.'”

Jensen believes the work of faculty is shown through student success and awards won.

“That shows when you walk across the quad and you see kids talking with their instructors. That tells you that good things are happening in this campus. We win awards all the time, that’s great.”

She concluded, “I think there is plenty of evidence on this campus that our teachers are doing a great job.”

Rosenblatt noted that another rally may take place this year.