Tuition is Increasing & Everyone Should Be Worried
In early December, President Mark Mitsui sent out an email notifying how Governor Kate Brown’s proposed (or lack of depending how you look at it) budget plan and how this would affect all seventeen community colleges in Oregon, as community colleges would take a major hit. Depending on what the Board of Trustee’s at PCC votes on and the vote has been delayed til early February in hopes to have a better estimate as to what the budget will be. A few of the outcomes could be Oregon Promise would be eliminated, tuition would increase from a $6.50 or $8.50 credit per hour increase, career and technical education (CTE), student support services, and jobs would be cut. What needs to be pointed out with this credit increase is that this is not the price for international and out of state students, that increase in ONLY for Oregon residences. International and out of state students; it is actually double, possible TRIPLED. Why this may be the first time your hearing this is because during finals week last term, is when the schedule for the Budget Forums open to students, staff, faculty and the PCC community went out.
The forum the Bridge attended was on January 16th at Sylvania.
All board members, including President Mitsui were all in attendance along with a room full of concerned students and faculty. There was some discussion about the future of the YESS and the President’s Dashboard Report Draft about Fall 2017 Successful Credit Completion by Race/Ethnicity, Enrollment numbers, Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Reporting System or STARS. It was not until the Interim Vice President, Finance and Administration, Eric Blumenthal and Interim Associate Vice President Finance, Dina Farrell came up before the board to present the possible (and at this point not the exact number) budget numbers from Governors proposed budget. The numbers were very alarming, and from what Blumenthal said, seemed more realistic the amount PCC would receive would be much, much lower (as whatever is given to community college would be split between all 17 schools). President Mitsuki described the reality of the budget after meeting with governors team would be “brutal”.
Then came the portion of the meeting where students could speak before the board. Students shared the realities of what it would mean if the tuition increase would happen. The realities of being in finical crises, maxing out credit cards to pay for tuition and fees, the lack of affordable housing resulting in being homeless, the impact this will have on students mental health, but ultimately the opportunity that will be stripped away from thousands of students and how this will impact students future.
On the positive note, the board seemed to have been touched by the brave, scared and very well frustrated students that came before them. It was encouraging to see that the board is on the side of the students and that brings comfort in knowing they do hear us and share our frustrations with the lack of support from government officials. To clarify, it is not the lack of support government officials aren’t giving out, but the follow through for all the “love” they have for community colleges.
If you feel frustrated, disappointed, and or worried about what the future of your academic career looks like, I say good. We should ALL be worried, take this as a wake up call as this will affect EVER PCC student, faculty, staff, and community. The opportunity for higher education is does not just change your path, but the path of those you meet on your journey. There will be action and lobby days starting with a town hall in East County at the South East Campus from 10 am to 12 pm on the 25th of January. If you want your voices to be heard, please SHOW UP. There is strength in numbers and OUR VOICES MATTER. Show up for yourselves, show up for your classmates, show up for your co-workers, show up for your partners, show up for the future. Just. Show. Up.
The last two Budget Forums [in relation with DSC and Office of International Students] will be at Cascade on January 29th at 1:00-2:30pm in the CA SU 202/203/204 as well as Sylvania on January 31st at 11:30-1:00pm in the SY CC 233 A/B. The vote will happen in the middle of February.