Students Devise Strategies to Curb Effects of Budget Cuts

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Student athletes are attending local television shows to earn extra funds, quotas are being set for photocopies and even the food menu is being juggled in response to campus wide budget cuts.

The $6.5 million deficit, which originated in Sacramento, has been well publicized and has had a widespread effect. College fees have been raised to $18 per unit and approximately 500 classes have been cut from the fall semester.

“The (2003-2004) budget process has been going on since February and has been extremely painful because of the fiscal crisis,” said Steve White, Vice President of Instructional Services.

Students across campus have been dealing with the cuts in a variety of ways. The Athletic Department has had its supply budget cut in half this year.

“To keep our programs going,” said Jim Sartoris, the Men’s Athletic Director. “Coaches had to realize that things like uniforms wouldn’t be provided by district money.” To provide funds for “non-essentials” like warm-up jerseys and new uniforms, teams are turning to fund-raisers, said Sartoris.

The men’s baseball team has attended the filming of local television shows that pay a small amount to the audiences. They also host other fund-raisers such as the “Hit-A-Thon.” The girls’ softball team is looking into putting up paid billboards on the outfield fence during games.

“We are very fortunate here at GCC,” said Sartoris. “A lot of our sports programs are funded by the Associated Students of GCC.” The ASGCC provides funds for meals for away games, referees and entry fees into local tournaments.

The cafeteria on campus has had to cut daily hours, lay off four workers and close the fast food restaurant, Pacific Rim. The cafeteria is completely self-supporting, paying salaries, benefits and insurance entirely from money brought in from food sales.

“Our biggest struggle is to be self-supportive and yet keep student prices down,” said Candyce Walker, the Cafeteria Manager.

Every member of the kitchen staff has taken a pay cut and foods that are made from scratch, such as soups and pastas, are no longer available because of layoffs.

“The main thing is that we work hard,” said Walker. “We want the students to know we are trying to help them [with less staff].”

Like the Cafeteria, the Health Center does not receive money from the school. The Health Center budget is based on the student health fee charged to each student at the beginning of each semester. The Board of Governor’s fee waiver is used by 45 to 50 percent of students at GCC and among other things, waives the Health Fee of $12. District money has been used to fill the gap in the budget left by the Board of Governor’s Fee Waivers. This year, due to the fiscal crisis, those funds are unavailable.

“We have cut our equipment budget to the bone,” said Mary Mirch, Associate Dean of Health Services. An administrative secretary from the center retired this year and has not been replaced; the rest of the staff has inherited her responsibilities.

The hours of operation for the Health Center remain the same except for closure on Saturdays. The ASGCC funds weekly doctor visits for students and mental health interns volunteer at the Health Center. These are just a few ways that the Health Center keeps their fees low and avoids cutting programs.

“We have always been creative in bringing in services [to the students] and keeping the fees low,” said Mirch.

“As the economy takes a nose dive, more and more students find themselves without medical services,” said Mirch. “They can always come [to the Health Center] to get the basics.”

The 2003-2004 GCC budget was approved by the Board of Trustees on Monday and incorporates pay cuts and mid-year reserves in case of more cuts in funding from Sacramento. California community colleges are not expecting any more reduction in funds from the state legislature, said White.
“I anticipate being able to add back about 100 classes to the winter and spring semesters,” said White. “Students should hold out, as classes will be easier to get.”