Local News

Mar 5, 2010 12:32 AM by Ariel Wesler

Hancock College rallies against state budget cuts

Students and staff at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria are fighting back and speaking out.

The college is facing more than $2 million in budget cuts for the upcoming year. That's in addition to a $4.5 million dollar cut from last year. Student services have been slashed and faculty members let go.

One by one, students and staff took to the podium. Their fight isn't with Hancock College in Santa Maria but with state lawmakers.

"We've gotten their message and now we want to send a message to them," said Rob Forest, student rights and development representative for the student body.

Millions of dollars in cuts impact all students, but especially programs like EOPS, which provide extended opportunities for disadvantaged students, students like Nate Hernandez.

"Without financial aid, I wouldn't even be here because I have no money for college whatsoever," Hernandez said.

"Never in the history of our program have we ever been cut this much. 40 percent this last year. . .We normally give them book grants for the semester but we had to cut those in half this year and next year we'll probably have to cut them even more," said EOPS Director Will Bruce.

Fewer teachers and Fewer classes means students have to delay transferring or getting their degree.

"When you have maybe 150 people who need that same class and you can only have 30 in that classroom, it makes people have to wait," said Marcus King, the school's student body president.

Students wrote to lawmakers on these hand-shaped pieces of paper. Each tells a personal story.

This is just one of several rallies being held on college campuses throughout the state. Students are sending messages and later this month, they'll do it in person. Around 50 students are headed to Sacramento on March 22nd to come face to face with key legislators.

"Write your assemblyman, write your district, write them, let your voice be heard," King urged.

A powerful plea in an educational struggle that's far from over.

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