Students Shoot to Save Classes; Hope to Dribble Past State Cuts

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Community colleges are in crisis. Classes are being cut, class fees are rising, forcing some students to work and study harder for an education they might not receive.

In a situation of high financial strain, anxiety and stress, what is a person to do? Play basketball!

During April on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. in the Verdugo Gym, various basketball teams of students and faculty dribbled, shot and sweated in front of spectators who paid $1 to see them.

All the proceeds went to a special GCC bank account, called the ??oSave a Class??2 fund.

According to Steve White, acting executive vice president of instructional services, he and Lawrence Serot, vice president of administrative services, started the fund in response to the government??Ts emergency budget cuts and last minute cutbacks.

??oIt??Ts a fund to pay for classes that have been eliminated due to budget cuts,??2 said Ann H. Ransford, GCC director of communications, marketing and foundation.

What, haven??Tt heard of the fund, you say? That??Ts because most of the fund raising has been through word of mouth, said Ransford.

??oWe??Tre not really making a major publicity campaign off campus, we??Tre not going outside to the community,??2 said White. ??oIt??Ts just teachers and students willing to contribute, a way we can try to minimize the impact of the cutbacks.??2

Alex Leon, Sports Information Director, also involved with the fund raiser said, ??oWe??Tre in the midst of a really serious budget crisis, and anything people can do to help is appreciated. Peter deserves a lot of credit.??2

Peter Braganca, 21, a political science major, is the brains behind the basketball games, so to speak. He stands out for many reasons. During the semi-final student round on April 22, you may have noticed him because he was the only one in the gym with a punk Mohawk, wearing a preppy polo shirt and bright red shoes.

Or you may have heard him cheering, during the basketball games. But being heard and standing out may not be what it??Ts all about.

??oWe can all stand around and wonder and say, ??~Oh, I hope someone takes up this worthy cause!??T But it??Ts a matter of actualization-what you can do and what you can bring to the table,??2 said Braganca.

Braganca said he came up with the idea for the fund-raiser after watching the social science department play basketball against the math department.

??oI thought, ??~Wow, wouldn??Tt that be great if we had clubs and faculty departments, students playing teachers???T??2 said Braganca. ??oThe clubs get publicity but we also get the opportunity to give back to the school.??2
Braganca had his ??owhat??2 and ??ohow??2 for a fund-raiser, but initially did not have a ??owho.??2 He talked to Roger Bowerman, the social science division chair and an assistant professor history teacher, who helped him present his idea to the academic senate.

Eventually, Braganca chose the ??oSave a Class??2 fund because ??oit was exclusive to Glendale Community College,??2 he said, ??oand it??Ts necessary that somebody bring awareness to the California budget crisis, especially the way the community colleges are disproportionately affected.??2

Braganca set up the basketball tournament so that the student and faculty teams played each other at first, with the ultimate winning student and faculty team playing against each other in the final round.

The student clubs of Alpha Gamma Sigma, the Pep Club, the Scholars and International Students participated in the fund-raiser. On the faculty side, the departments of social science, instructional technology, and the ??oMisfits,??2 a team made up of faculty from different departments, played.

Organizing an event with many participants is no mean feat, but Braganca seems like he has energy to spare.

??oI understand that there needs to be a certain level of participation coming from the student body if we??Tre going to have any impact on the world around us,??2 said Braganca, between yells during a game. ??oParticipation is key.??2

But only a handful of people attended the student semi-final round of the Scholars versus the Pep Squad. Yet it was anything but quiet.

The audience actively cheered their teams on. ??oPeople actually are into it,??2 said Adriana Leon, 19, undecided, one of the attendees. ??oThey??Tre excited, they??Tre playing hard, they seem like they??Tre enjoying it.??2

Maureen Fanous, 20, anthropology, said the number one reason she came was to support the cause and also because she is a basketball lover.

??oAnd they??Tre fun games,??2 she said. ??oI??Tve been to them all and they??Tre pretty exciting, the players and audience just have so much energy.??2

The winners of the student semi-final round, the Scholars, were definitely in a jubilant mood. Jason Donner, 19, broadcast journalism, a player on the team, said, ??oIt??Ts all about for the classes, but it was also fun. It was just an awesome time.??2

One of his teammates, Andre Zakavian, 19, business, said, ??oIt was a great experience. Faculty are next and they??Tre going down!??2

The faculty team challenging that assumption will be the Misfits. The faculty had their own semi-final round on Thursday, April 24, with the Misfits and the Instructional Technology team battling it out. Contrary to their name, the Misfits held it together and won.

Six basketball games have been played since the start of April, and so far, $255.38 has been raised for the fund, according to Alexis Leon.

But while the mood in the gym may be exciting and rowdy, Braganca had some sobering words to say. ??oI know this [fund-raiser] isn??Tt going to have enough impact to save a class,??2 said Braganca. ??oI don??Tt mean to sound dismal and discouraging about my own cause, but classes take a lot of money to fund.??2

??oTo me, it??Ts more symbolic. It??Ts not meant to be practical. It would be great if it were practical, but it??Ts just a steppingstone to a larger idea.??2

White said that, ideally, he hopes the fund will be able to support a ??ofew more of the classes with the greatest waiting lists, like the English, ESL and math classes.??2

But even the ??oSave A Class??2 fund seems more like something of a good idea. Ransford said, ??oAt this point we don??Tt have a specific plan or enough funds. To date we have collected about $2,000. The cost of funding a class is $3,000.??2

There??Ts one more chance to help save a class through this basketball fundraiser.

The student team, the Scholars battles the faculty team, the Misfits, on Thursday, May 1, in the final round that will determine who really gets schooled. A $1 donation is suggested.