The Administration of Justice program (A.J.) teaches students about law enforcement and legal studies, preparing them to transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
The program’s coordinator and the sole full-time Criminal Justice professor at Skyline College, Professor Steve Aurilio, stated the major’s success within the campus.
“Over the years, we’ve had a pretty good enrollment,” Aurilio said. “Many courses have been filled up to the capacity, which is 45 students.”
Aurilio credits the major’s enrollment decline to the increased job market.
“There’s been some waning enrollments in the last couple of years that I attribute possibly to being a better economy,” Aurilio said. “More jobs are available out there. When the job market is bad, students tend to go to school.”
Aurilio is optimistic that the major is here to stay. He recalls five years ago when students lined up in the hallway to try and get into Criminology classes.
“In my experience here, since 1995, we’ve only had two classes in a semester that had to be canceled due to low enrollment,” Aurilio said.
Students need to complete 60 units in the Administration of Justice program in order to transfer. In addition to general education courses, there are also some required core courses for this particular major. The courses include Introduction to Administration of Justice, Concepts of Criminal Law, Principles and Procedures of Justice, Community Relations, and Criminal Investigation.
“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback in the past 24 years from people who have gone on with their careers who have said, (for example), ‘Hey professor Aurilio, I just wanted to tell you that I joined the Police Department, I’m in the academy and guess what? Everything you taught us for the past two years is what they’re teaching us now and I’m doing really well in the academy because of this foundation that I had here in the A.J. program and I’m at the top of my class in the academy.’”
Some careers Criminal Justice may lead to can be a police officer, detective or criminal investigator, parole officer, private investigator, employment counselor or juvenile justice counselor.
Aurilio is a retired police sergeant of the Daly City Police Department and had some personal history to share.
“I started teaching at (Skyline College) in 1995 as a part-timer,” Aurilio said. “The classes I had were filled with people coming out of the Vietnam War who wanted to find a job in law enforcement.”
Psychology major Thomas Linker is a Psychology Major previously attended UC Santa Cruz to study economics.
“I would be very interested in taking criminal justice classes at Skyline,” Linker said. “The criminal justice system is very important and controversial. It is a hot topic that a lot of people talk about and have an opinion on because it affects so many.”
Linker is interested in learning about law due to his dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system. He believes that it is flawed and biased, comparing it to the war on drugs and the rising incarceration rate of people of color.
Hospitality management major Oscar Quintana does not want to get into the Criminology field, but he is interested in taking Criminal Justice classes to be informed about his rights, to know when they are being violated.
“To provide a good program, it’s important to have a good demand of people that are looking to get benefits from it,” Quintana said. “I also think that to provide a criminal justice career, they must have certain special requirements from the Justice Department in order to teach.”
Skyline student Shane P. Hennelly, whose major is undeclared, doesn’t plan on majoring in Administration of Justice or taking a criminal justice class.
“Criminal justice is a branch of education that does not entice me because I do not like rules,” Hennelly said. “(Criminal justice), to me, sounds like learning to be a police officer or a part of something institutionalized and restricted. Therefore, I know that if I took a Criminal Justice Class, I would eventually lose interest or it would end up not paying off if I chose to be something other than a police officer or detective.”