Bakersfield College ‘cannot be paralyzed’

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Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an interview with BC President Dr. Sandra Serrano on Jan. 31.

I believe that students need to be aware of how their futures are going to be affected by the drastic budget reductions proposed for education, but specifically California community colleges.

I believe if students don’t understand the impact of the budget reductions, then those in Sacramento who will be able to take action to minimize the impact are going to feel that we can manage through this magnitude of cuts, and the fact of the matter is we cannot manage through this magnitude of cuts and still provide the comprehensive educational program with which we’re charged and is in response to what our community needs.

Already this semester, we’re receiving — I’m receiving — e-mails and phone calls from students saying, “I need one more English class. I need one more philosophy class. Can’t you add one more section?” And while we’d like to add one more section, it does take money.

Our faculty are already adding more than the maximum enrollment. To open up another section means hiring another faculty member, but if we don’t have the resources because I have to find $1.2 million or $2 million in the current year’s budget, then, in essence, access is being denied.

The reason students need to become involved is because it’s always the human element that is best understood.

When those that are affected by a decision tell their story, it is better understood than raw numbers.

Are the numbers staggering? Three thousand residents of our community are expected to be denied access to higher education, to work-force preparation. Is that staggering? Yes. But when you know that that’s Jarrod or Sandra or Molly or the like, and the fact that maybe they have a family and they need a job or they’re the first in their family to attend college and they have these dreams, and it means that they’re not going to be able to become gainfully employed by next year or three years from now, I think those are the stories that move people.

If students don’t become involved, I foresee that we will have to implement the magnitude of reductions that are being proposed by the governor.

While the community colleges and Bakersfield College are prepared to be a part of the solution to the budget crisis, we cannot be paralyzed.

And what we’re looking at is the potential of not being able to meet the needs of this community, which is truly our mission. That is why we exist. We exist for our students and community.


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