ASI scuba program develops virtual programs for fall semester

BY LAUREN MUTTRAM, STAFF WRITER | @MuttramLauren

With COVID-19 restricting travel in the United States, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) scuba program has ceased all travel plans for the fall semester — no longer utilizing the $80,000 travel budget increase granted to the program last spring.

In one of its final spring meetings, the ASI Board of Directors approved the increase with a narrow 7-6 vote. The approved budget was intended to fund out-of-state and international travel as well as provide additional diving certification courses for student members.

Scuba Dive Center Coordinator Doug Hayes confirmed that in accordance with social distancing orders and travel restrictions, the program is forced to hold off on these plans.

“Our travel has been suspended for the entire year,” said Hayes. “So, we can’t really do anything outside the knowledge development portion of our course.”

The scuba program held in-person training fall 2019 | Matthew Marra, ASI Photographer

ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh, explained that scuba’s budget will instead be used for the upkeep of equipment and instructional materials for virtual classes.

“Although travel is currently not an option, the funding that scuba gets helps to pay for the staffing of the department,” Singh said, “… We have been working throughout the summer on options for these savings and look forward to presenting our work to the board in one of the upcoming meetings.”

Director of Financial Services, Carol Lee, further clarified that any left over from the $80,000 will be saved in the ASI reserves at the fiscal year’s end, though none of the ASI’s five specific reserve accounts have been identified to hold the savings.

“We are very fortunate to have talented staff, who designed creative virtual programs that are fun and engaging.” added Lee.

In July, the board had also approved an updated subsidization rate of 80% for student scuba fees. This gives students the opportunity to access virtual scuba programs at a lower cost, and introductory diving technique courses start at $10.

With in-person courses no longer an option, the scuba program is moving to develop virtual certifications for students on scuba diving and preparing them for confined water sessions. The Program plans on offering water sessions when in person instruction is permitted.

“We started offering as much as we can virtually so we can meet the students wherever they’re at,” added Hayes.

Those involved in the scuba program remain hopeful that travel restrictions will be lifted in the spring.

Fifth year mechanical engineering student Johnathan Kelvin joined the scuba program in his first year at CPP. Kelvin finds the virtual instruction and discounted fees a helpful resource that students should take advantage of.

“If you want to get certified in the future, now is a great opportunity,” Kelvin said.

Scuba program information, available certifications, and community events can be found at https://asi.cpp.edu/campusrec/programs/scuba/.

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