Technology

Policy changes for CFCC’s marine technology program leaves students in rough waters after two key employees resign

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – After a recent change to CFCC’s compensatory leave policy for the marine technology department, two employees with the program resigned. One of them, the captain of the research vessel, Cape Hatteras.

About a week after the policy changed, it was reversed but the employees had already quit. Students say they still feel adrift.

“Why do we have to go through this as students? I lost a lot asleep. I know a lot of my peers did a lot of study time to put into this. So it’s like, why did we even have to go through this when you would reverse it in a week? Why did it happen so suddenly? We’re still not so sure.” Maggie Oxendine, Marine Technology Club President, said. “Mr. Rogers came out, he’s the chair of the department, told us that some of the crew had resigned due to a change in their contract and compensatory time. So from there, students kind of got organized together, we all got together, looked at policies, read what was going on, educated ourselves as much as we could, came together and got them to reverse the policy, apparently. But, we’re still questioning like, you know why it even happened in the first place, we still don’t have those answers.”

Trustee Ray Funderburk brought up the topic in Thursday’s meeting.

“I would have liked to known clearly what exactly has happened, because I was asked.”

Morton responded by saying Funderburk can call anytime if he needs an explanation.

“I think it was about being legally compliant. We were talking in the committee meeting, we were trying to make a move so we could not use the term comp time. You know, there’s legal tentacles attached to it. But, we need to get more legal compliance going with the program,” Morton said.

“I understand that, but I would have liked to see a real clear explanation of what had happened,” Funderburk said.

Funderburk was not available for an interview after the meeting, but he says he still feels left in the dark.

Meanwhile, students say they will keep pressing for answers as to why the program has run into rough waters.

“[I’m] still confused, and the fact that we don’t have answers, [is] so very upsetting. I can’t speak for every student that showed up today to the meeting, but I just know I was so confused as to why we don’t have those. We would love to have those answers. That’s all we’ve been asking for since day one. I don’t feel like we’re asking for too much and we’re doing it in a respectful way in my eyes,” Oxendine said.

The loss of two key employees in the program is significant because without a captain students aren’t able to safely be on the waters about Cape Hatteras, the programs research vessel. Without Cape Hatteras, Oxendine said she isn’t getting the hands on experience she needs and expected from the program.

“We’re going out in our smaller vessel, on day trips, so we probably leave nine in the morning, and come back at three or four. We do not have a captain as of right now. I know, Mr. Rogers, and them we’re looking for one,” Oxendine said. “I love this program, I love what we learn is hands on. That’s how we get the job offers, the hands on opportunities offshore, not sitting in a classroom. I mean, these day trips do help, but they’re not equivalent to going offshore and spending time on that vessel for about 10 days, we don’t have that right now. And that’s something that we all look forward to it. I know. That’s why I joined the program was the Cape Hatteras. And that time we get in training hands on.”

President Morton declined an on-camera interview, leaving many people still questioning the specifics of the policy change.

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