Some South Louisiana Community College students feel they are being dealt an injustice. Ironically, it’s a group of criminal justice majors that are feeling that way. Brittany Carlton, a criminal justice major graduating in May, is bringing into light a change in curriculum that she says will negatively impact 130 of her fellow criminal justice program colleagues. She said she and her classmates were approached with an announcement that the SLCC administration would be making changes to availability within the criminal justice program.

“It’s not going to affect me because I graduate in May, but those who are graduating after me are not going to be able to graduate with a criminal justice degree because there’s going to be a new curriculum,” she said. “The new curriculum will only be open to first-time freshmen. They are not going to be allowed to join the new program.”

Fulton said she is concerned for the 130 criminal justice students who are currently enrolled. She was told those students should change their major to general studies to graduate with a degree at the end of their two year college career. This could cause students to lose their credentials, earned by graduating with a criminal justice degree rather than a general studies degree, or it may cause students to have to jump financial and academic hurdles to transfer to another university.

“Not everyone can afford to go to a four-year university,” Carlton said with concern. “Some students just do not have the grades, or the ACT score, to transfer. They’re gonna have to start in remedial classes and start all over again?”

Officials with South Louisiana Community College responded, via e-mail, noting the new criminal justice program will be offered this fall as “an accelerated program for working adults.” The new program will offer a mix of online, hybrid and traditional on-site classes that will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The school administration added that students can work in law enforcement or corrections or pursue a four-year degree after completing the two-year SLCC program.

The SLCC Web site still lists two academic concentrations under the Criminal Justice major that are being offered. Both the corrections and law enforcement concentrations require students to complete 60 hours of academic study within two semesters.

“There’s currently between 130-150 students enrolled in criminal justice each semester,” she said. “So I know it’s not because there is not enough people to fill up the classes. It’s not due to budget cuts. Then, why? That’s what we want to know: Why?”

The school is also offering the “accelerated program” for business administration majors this fall, as well, but business administration majors will have the added option of taking their courses in the existing, daytime format.

Therein lies another issue for the criminal justice students. According to SLCC administration correspondence, the classes will be offered as night classes only on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, thus limiting scheduling availability. Carlton said she works in the evening and attends daytime classes.

“I’m a full-time waitress,” Carlton said. ”I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay my bills going to night school.”

Carlton said she chose SLCC because her TOPS scholarship covered her tuition in whole, in contrast to choosing an in-state 4-year college, she would have had to pay a substantial part of her tuition from her own pocket. Though her choice of institution was primarily a financial decision, she said majoring in criminal justice was a choice of passion.

“I’ve always wanted to be the change that I wanted to see in society,” she said. “I want to help rehabilitate people coming out of jail as functioning members of society and law-abiding citizens.”

“The program that I’m in now is very effective,” Carlton said. “There’s no problem with the program. The classes are fine. The instructor (Dale Broussard) is fine. He’s very hands-on and includes personal experience that he has gone through in the field. That is very important to us.”

To hear the entire interview with Carlton, click below.