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Students rally against cuts

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By Erene Abdelmeseeh / Interim Managing Editor


By Erene Abdelmeseeh / Interim Managing Editor

 The economic situation has called for many budget cuts throughout the nation and education is among the many areas making large sacrifices. 

Four hundred sections were recently cut from Riverside City campus alone, leaving many students unable to complete their necessary courses because of the scarcity of classes available. 

Many students were left without the opportunity to continue their higher education and are choosing not to return to school this fall.

These students chose to speak up against the cuts rather than sit and wait to see how the government would handle the situation. 

On August 26, students and faculty gathered together at the Riverside Convention Center to rally against the recent budget cuts.

They marched from the Riverside Convention Center to city hall yelling chants like “education now, politics later” and “affordable rates for higher education, open access for the future of our nation.”

During the rally, students and faculty alike spoke about the effect the budget cuts have had on them as well as the outcomes they expect if the cuts persist.

Riverside Community College District faculty, including the new chancellor Dr. Gregory Gray, encouraged the students to continue their protest against the budget cuts.

 “Students’ voices are the most important ones for legislators to hear,” Gray said. “I am proud of our students for organizing this rally and advocating for their education. We hear you and we want Sacramento to hear you.”

Maxine Nanthavong, a Moreno Valley campus student, shared her fears with the others in attendance as she encouraged them to pursue their fight for education.

“I am the first in my family to receive higher education and I don’t want that door shut,” Nanthavong said. “We need to get more people involved and keep fighting.”

Other students, such as Rebecca Christenson, returned to school after being laid off from their jobs in the past year.

Christenson said that she hoped to receive her Associates Degree and attain a good job in order to support her family, but the classes she needed to complete are unavailable. 

Gray reinforced the importance of community colleges to those who choose to return to school saying that community colleges are the answer to the economic problem.

“It is our community colleges and public universities that will help the state and the country move forward,” Gray said. “We are the institutions that put people back to work through career tech programs and advanced educational opportunities.”

Gray went on to say that RCCD is committed to maintaining access for students and the community and that they take responsibility for their own future and that RCCD is actively searching for alternative financial resources, such as grants and private support, to give students the college experience they deserve. 

Once the crowd of students and faculty reached city hall, they were greeted by Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge.

Loveridge supported their rally saying, “It’s easy to be a spectator, but it’s important for the students to get involved and have their voices heard.”

Finally, RCC president, Jan Muto, praised the students for their effort.

“I am so proud of the students using their rights as members of the community to rally in a respectable and intelligent manner,” Muto said.

After the students and faculty spoke, they began a call to action in which they called California legislators to explain their concerns and attempt to persuade them to comply with their needs. Gray encouraged these calls saying, “As administrators and educators we are happy to stand with you and encourage our legislators to do everything possible to preserve funding for California’s public colleges and universities.”

Mary Figueroa, a board of trustees member, ended the meeting with a quote from Frederick Douglas saying, “Progress doesn’t come without a struggle.”

As these students continue their struggle against the many budget cuts, they invite and encourage more students to join in the fight for their rights to higher education.


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