Fee Hikes Greet Students as Fall Semester Begins

El Vaquero Editor-in-Chief

The fall semester starts with higher tuition costs, less classes and puts staff salaries next on the chopping block in order to save the $6.5 million needed in the budget crises.

While priority registration students heard a message on STARS that warned of possible fee increase, the new California legislature proposal passed the $7 increase and STARS has officially informed and charged new/late students registering of the $18 per unit cost.

The $18 per unit fee has been an ongoing battle in the state budget crisis. GCC ended its spring 2003 semester with crossed fingers.

The expected increase had been $24 per unit. The May Revision, a mid year proposal by Gov. Gray Davis, included an $18 per unit fee, restoring money for the Extended Opportunity Program & Services and raising taxes.

“The May Revision cut us more than we expected so we would have been starting the school year off with less than expected,” Steve White, vice president of instructional services said. The May proposal did not get passed and on July 29, 2003 California legislation proposed a bill and Davissigned it.

The new proposal did not change much in terms of how much GCC is expected to cut, $6.5 million, but it did include a lot of borrowing.

As with any loan, the money will have to be paid back and with interest accrued the amount may put CA back in the red at $8 billion. GCC will most likely be faced with more cuts in the future, but for now the cuts for the 2003-2004 fiscal year have almost been reached.

According to White, GCC has made an approximate $4 million cut to classes, programs and services in a two-year period. There will be “no academic classes eliminated,” White said, but the 500 classes cut fromthe schedules are certainly hard to imagine.

“If you have 500 classes cut with an average of 30 students per class you have 15,000 empty seats,” White said. Less seats means less room and less room means many students will be turned away.

Students signing up at the GCC administration window will certainly get a registration number, but as they call STARS to sign up for classes they will soon find that the chances of getting a seat in a class may be slim to none, White said.
Despite the fact that the classes offered to GCC students will be fewer, students will still be lining up at the door to get in.

“There is no where else to go,” White said, regarding all community college’saround the state that have been hit with similar situations. Everyone will be scrambling to get a spot in a class. Once the students do get enrolled many will find that the quality of the school’s services
have gone down, White said.

“We are trying to eliminate a little from a lot of things. People do not look at the big picture and they will be upset,” White said. The big picture refers to the numerous cuts that have had to happen around the campus in order to balance the budget.

Sections of Extended Opportunity Program and Services, Disabled Students Programs and Services have been cut. Many Classified worker positions such as student workers, cafeteria workers and custodial staff have been cut out of GCC’s pockets.

These cuts may cause disgruntled students as lines will become longer at the financial aid office, due to a cut back in employees and hours.

There may also be surprised faces as students stumble into an unclean bathroom and hunger pangs upon notice of less food choices at the cafeteria.

While the cuts may seem significant, there is still an approximate $2.5 million that needs to be cut from GCC’s budget and White believes it will come from staff salaries.

“The remaining $2.5 million will come from virtue of concession, meaning reduction in pay,” White said.

The administration has already taken a 4.5 percent decrease in pay and White said, “now everybody else will be cut.”

The reduction in pay will include all other staff and is currently still in negotiations.

While the cuts have been major, White feels that everyone, students included, should help to fund their education.

He feels the best way to do that may be by raising taxes to help pay some of the bills.

According to White, America has the lowest tax rate out of all developed countries. The low tax rate has not been helpful to our economy, White said.

White said that with higher taxes, more classes would be funded and more people would ultimately graduate college.