STEM center shuts down

By Karissa Rivera / Staff Writer

A valuable resource (Russell Hebert / Staff Photographer)

By Karissa Rivera / Staff Writer

The Science Technology Engineering Math Center, a nationwide program offered at Riverside City College, was shut down without any notice to students or faculty Sept. 30 through Oct. 4.

The center was then reopened Oct. 4, according to students.

Portions of the resources offered in the center were limited or were no longer available to students.

“I was upset when I heard they closed it for a while,” said Alberto Acosta, a RCC math and science major. “It’s an essential resource for students, especially for math and science majors.”

Due to the budget cuts that have been continuing throughout the State of California many student services and programs have to make sacrifices and certain cut backs, this center being one of the few.

The program was put to action by the Obama administration as part of the “Educate to Innovate” campaign.

The program is offered for those students who want to transfer to a four year university, mainly targeting those majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, according to its online mission statement.

It not only provides help for those who major in these selected areas, but it also provides a work place for students to allow them to get extra help from a mentor as well as a place to hold study group sessions between students.

The program was first offered to RCC when Biology professor Heather Smith wrote the grant proposal to get the funding for the program.

This year the center was supposed to be institutionalized into the school as part of the deal.

All three colleges, Norco College, Moreno Valley College and RCC got the grant. This year Norco and Moreno Valley institutionalized the program.

“When it became time to renew the grant and for the government to give it more money, Norco and Moreno Valley got it,” said Adriana Curiel, a mentor of the program. “Riverside dropped the ball, the Riverside campus did not institutionalize the program therefore it did not get the renewal, it was denied.”

When RCC’s program did not get institutionalized, it led to the closing of the center and mentors were not able to get paid.

“We used the last bit of the money over the summer,” Curiel said. “A lot of the students stopped working the last day of summer, and a lot of the mentors quit.”

Some mentors however stuck around during summer to help organize data for the program.

“The way I look at it, pay it forward,” Curiel said. “Even if you don’t pay me, help someone else out.”

The staff is not only working for the benefit of their program but is trying to spread awareness on how budget cuts are affecting RCC as a whole.

Action is planning to arise; an upcoming protest on Oct. 19 is the first of many things, according to Curiel.

“It doesn’t appear that they are really going to listen and own up to what they promise, until we make a big deal out of it,” she said.

On RCCD’s website administration page, part of the mission statement states that RCC is dedicated to the success of students and that colleges and learning centers provide educational and student services to meet the needs and expectations of their unique communities of learners.

“They are talking about center like these, they are talking about (Science Technlogy Engineering Math),” Curiel said.

“Their promising to focus on these learning centers to meet the needs and expectations of their student; well right now they are not meeting the needs or the expectations,” she said.