President Bob Knight held an open discussion Oct. 22 in front of a packed Fireside Lounge to answer an array of questions, mostly related to the proposed budget cuts of $2.6 million.
Many in attendance were passionate. Paralegal professor Layne Russell presented Knight with a petition signed by 164 Paralegal students. Several French students stood outside the room holding signs. One sign read, “If you cut French, I will take my money elsewhere.”
President Knight reiterated that no cuts have been made at this time, and that the Instructional Council will continue to look at data about each program.
“Not everything will be cut,” Knight said. “As we go through this process we can back some things out.”
Knight said low enrollment due to an improving economy is the reason the cuts need to be made. “Everyone is having to deal with this,” he said, speaking about other colleges in the state. “Now it is our turn to deal with it.”
Paralegal faculty and students said they fear a lack of justice in Clark County without the Paralegal program. They also pointed to the revenue that the program brings in.
“We don’t base our decisions on exact cost,” Knight said. “If we did that we would only have a college of history, English and math because they have a very limited cost. If we went with a strictly for-profit model, we likely wouldn’t have any career focused programs.”
One student asked if tuition could be raised to save programs the same way it was proposed to be raised to expand the O’Connell Sports Center before students voted against it. Bill Belden, Vice President of Student Affairs, said student fees can not legally be used to fund the operational budget. Tuition is set by the state legislature, according to Knight.
While most comments were speaking out against the cuts, a few faculty members stood in support. “How can we have innovation and growth if we don’t make the cuts we need to?,” asked one faculty member. “The college is intelligent when eliminating programs,” another said.
Knight also gave an update on the STEM building’s construction, saying it was about halfway done and is still set for completion for Fall 2016.
Unsatisfied with the results of the meeting, one humanities student took matters into his own hands. Michael Pain scheduled a rally on Oct. 27 so students could come together to discuss their concerns. “Administration needs to know who’s going to be affected by these cuts, and how this is going to hinder students,” Pain said.
Students attending the event took turns weighing in on the proposed cuts. Many said that if entire departments were cut, they feared they would have fewer career paths to pursue. Others voiced concern for faculty, speaking about those who could lose their jobs and the low pay that teachers receive.
Pain said he hopes the Instructional Council will listen to students when finalizing cuts. “I think students should have a say in these budget cuts,” he said. Pain has already met once with Tim Cook, Vice President of Instruction, and plans to write a letter to the Instructional Council about the concerns raised by students at the rally.
Pain said he would rather see sections cut from every department than entire programs eliminated. He said he worked with Cook to find an alternative to cutting entire programs.
Pain urged students to email members of the Instructional Council and submit their feedback to the administration to become part of the decision making process.
He credits his Humanities class with motivating him to improve his grades and helping him find his major. “It only takes one person to make a difference. That’s why I held this event.”