President Gerald Pumphrey and administrators recommended tactics students can use in order to voice out against higher education budget cuts at the town hall meeting put on by the Student Senate. Of the 13 attendees, only one was a student of their own accord, Cameron Cumberland.
The lone SPSCC student said the lack of attendance to this informative meeting was unfortunate.
“Rising price, deducing access,” said Pumphrey, as the administration “tries to meet philosophical standards while providing opportunities and keeping employees employed,” students are strongly encouraged to go to the capitol to make their voices heard.
Admitting to be nothing more than a “hired gun” at the legislature, one of thirty-four community college presidents with only a certain amount of influence, Pumphrey urged students to take matters into their own hands.
Even after the poor turnout at last month’s higher education rally at the capitol, Pumphrey hesitated in encouraging student actions on campus, preferring the inconvenient and acoustically marginalizing capitol building. He added, campus actions are a “useful tool” but not an end in themselves.
Coats said writing letters can be an effective tool. But quickly added, if you were to send an email do not use a student (.edu) account, as it could be seen as a misuse of lobbying.
Organizer of the meeting, Megan Rowland, said, “I think it’s really important for students to know what’s going on at the school, at the legislative level….Accessibility is decreasing for higher education. Students have a strong voice that they are not utilizing.”
Another topic hastily addressed at the meeting was the non-smoking policy. Pumphrey conceded that the policy was a “hardship on some students” yet did not specify which students he was referring to.
Pumphrey said that with the current budget situation it was not appropriate to spend public funds on supporting “bad public health.” The funds referred to are those it would take to erect several small structures around campus that would be used as smoking zones.
The policy was first proposed by the student senate of 2007. Several of the administrators present reassured the fact that there had not been a lot of backlash experienced from the policy’s enactment, even though many of the policy’s first supporters have moved on from the SPSCC campus by now.
Senator for Legislative Affairs, Matthew Shrader then spoke of the newly available and highly innovative Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) scholarship. It is a scholarship to the amount of $1000, which is funded entirely through community and student effort, including a fundraiser which took place during a ‘Pay What You Can Day’ last October at New Moon Cafe in downtown Olympia, which raised $500.
The meeting also addressed the upcoming budget cuts with Pumphrey’s acknowledgment of their “potential to effect students.” While the exact amount to be cut from SPSCC is not yet determined, courses will be diminished, the college will be pinched on supplies, and tuition will be increased by 12 percent.
Nancy McKinney explained that the severe tuition hike comes from Governor Gregoire’s budget which attempts to balance cuts with tuition increases. These cuts are disproportionately spread however, with a higher percentage of the $160 million cut to higher education affecting community and technical colleges.
Also in attendance:
Senator for Public Relations Linh Huynh
Senator for Administrative Affairs Michelle Le
Vice President for Student Services Rhonda Coats
Vice President for Instruction, Dorna Bullpitt
Executive Director of the College Foundation, Cecelia Loveless