There is almost no gathering or meeting on Yuba College that does not discuss the budget situation or shared governance in these times, and the Crossing Borders & Building Bridges meeting on Thursday afternoon was no exception. The auditorium was packed to capacity. The only empty seats were those reserved for the Y.C.C.D Board of Trustees. After giving an address about the importance of not being passive when confronted with corruption, Professor Neelam Canto-Lugo, who hosted the event, introduced the first three speakers. Jake Lavy, 25, a Dental Hygiene major, was the first to speak saying that because of summer school closing his economic hardships will be prolonged and his educational plan delayed. “What I don’t understand are the reductions that are being proposed by the Board as students struggle on a daily basis to pursue degrees, while students see top administrators, some of whom who were just hired in the last year and who enjoy large salaries, will apparently not have to make any sacrifices.” He went on to say, “The burden, I am afraid, falls on the students. Student access and student success do not appear to be part of the goals of the Y.C. board of Trustees, and I can only recommend that the board examine surrounding community colleges and how they will continue to offer their summer session as they look at other areas to address this crisis.”
English major Alicia Gomez, 34, who has been recently separated from her husband and finding she had no assets and non transferable job skills said, “I decided to go to school to finally realize a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.” Soon after enrolling she heard the news that summer school and classes would be cut. “This is a huge disappointment because summer school is a major tool for me to expedite my education. I am a single mother and just do not have the leisure of time in which to complete my education. Summer school is imperative to my educational plan.” The absence of summer school could have a draining affect on what is the second smallest district in the State Mrs. Gomez went on to say, “Because of these cuts I will be forced to look at other colleges, this creates a hardship on me financially because of the cost of gas. My education is being prolonged because of these cuts, this is not acceptable.”
John Irvine, a 20 year old English major cordially greeted the empty chairs reserved for the absent Board members. He pointed out that there are 4 Community Colleges within realistic driving range and that none of these schools had canceled summer session. “We understand that drastic measures must be taken however I was going to ask, was there any discussion of perhaps curtailing summer courses into core courses. Instead of wiping the summer slate clean could we still have those core courses?” With a financial disaster looming for Y.C.C.D Mr. Irvine questioned some of the decisions that have been made by the Board saying that the K-12 districts were getting pink slips in spring of 2008 and the district must have known hard times were coming. “Then what was the rationale of hiring 2 Vice Chancellors, each one getting over $100k a year and a new student President, obviously we need these positions to be accredited so that our degrees mean anything. However was there any discussion of perhaps postponing the hiring of these positions for maybe just a year until management could more responsibly address this current crisis?”
Mr. Irvine reminded everyone present that single parents have programs that they must adhere to qualify for funding and how the absence of summer school will affect another group of students saying, “Many single parents receive subsidies from Cal-Works and other associations, unfortunately these associations have a student timeline in which you have this much time to complete your education. What does the chopping off of summer school do to these people, how can they fulfill that (limited) timeline? The answer is that summer school is imperative. I am here to simply ask is there any possible way too still keep summer school?”
Professor Canto-Lugo opened the floor for questions. Michel Wayne Defranco, a student at Y.C., told the assembled crowd that Y.C. had more administrators than American River Colleges district and because of previous tension with the board members he had decided to run for and announced his candidacy or District Board Trustee and stated his objectives for that office saying, “As of today, in the next election cycle in my district I will be running for the Board, and one of the first things I will do is to get the wages for these administrators cut by at least a fourth along with any perks that come with the job. They can start chipping in and help this college this financial disaster they put us in.” Classified staff attended and spoke out. Teresa Dorantes’basile a classified unit member said to everyone, “We are so deep-rooted with the administration with corruption I cant even start to explain it all. These empty seats you see in front of you are exactly how these individuals feel about all of you and all of us here whether it be faculty or classified. A quarter of our unit was cut, it was blamed on faculty, it was blamed on us accepting our COLA; those thing are not true.” She went on to say, “The majority of us in the classified unit are extremely fearful of the administration ’cause we have seen what has happened to a lot of our classifieds unjustly let go. We need help, we need these (corrupt) individuals out, not here that are making $217K a year while the median for classified staff is $41K. Our top three administrators average is $173K a year!” Donna Veal Spenser, president of the classified staff at Y.C. said she was tired of reading about the college in the news paper and asked why are decisions being made when the stakeholders are not consulted. Professor Canto-Lugo closed the proceedings and implored everyone to begin a letter writing campaign.
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