Programs for disadvantaged face brunt of massive reductions

Leanne Cave

Students with disabilities and those with low incomes may be hurt the most by reductions in programs and services.

Two specially funded programs, Disabled Students Programs & Services and Extended Opportunity Programs & Services, are expected to be cut by 43 percent if the governor’s proposed budget passes, according to Tim Bohan, director of supportive services.

“We recognize that these cuts will have a great impact on the services that students with disabilities are entitled to,” he said.

“The cuts will affect the enrollment of low income and students with disabilities because they will limit the access to programs and services for these students.”

Dane Geer, a blind computer technology student who works at BC, said he got the job was because of the federal work study program.

Even low income students who receive assistance from the state will be hurt, according to Manuel Gonzales of EOP&S.

“There will be educational disadvantages, especially for first-generation college students,” Gonzales said. “It’s ridiculous. Especially cutting funds for people with disabilities at the High Tech Center.”

EOP&S assists low income students with financial aid, counseling, tutoring and books.

Bohan and Gonzales said all students may feel the brunt of cuts.

Teachers already are discussing this in some classes.

“They’re talking about a bunch of cuts,” said Alan Poggio, a computer program major. “They want us to write letters so our voices will be heard. ‘Cause if we don’t say something about it, it won’t get said and nothing will get done.”

Poggio said some teachers fear summer school may be affected.

And students are also concerned about the $13 per unit increase, which is expected to take effect in the fall if the governor’s proposed budget passes.

“I heard about it, it sucks!” said Amy Shackelford, a liberal studies major. “I don’t want to pay money that doesn’t help us here at Bakersfield College,” she said, explaining that unlike fee increases at the UCs and CSUs, the fees will go back to the state.

“This is a community college where everyone has a chance. I don’t see that happening with these cuts.”

Athletes also are concerned about the potential cutbacks in programs.

“We wouldn’t have anything,” said Diana Adame, a political science major and cross country runner.

“We would probably have to buy our own equipment and our reputation might suffer. People would stop coming to BC because it would be hard for students to make it, especially those that receive scholarships.”

Bohan said that community college administrators are encouraging students as well as faculty statewide to write the Legislature and let officials know that these cuts are going to have a great impact on students at the community college level.

If enough public pressure occurs, legislators may amend budget proposals to reduce the amount of cuts community colleges must make.

“Our chances? Your guess is as good as mine,” Bohan said.

— Sports Editor Victor Garcia and staff photographer Anissa Candelaria contributed to this story.