Clubs complain of cuts, chancellor blames the state
Members of student government publicly criticized the City Colleges district office for recent budget cuts that have affected student clubs.
Executive members of Student Government Association of Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College voiced their grievances about the cuts directly to the board and Chancellor at the City Colleges board meeting, March 9.
Cuts of $70 million by the state of Illinois to the City Colleges over a two year period were the reason Chancellor Cheryl Hyman gave for the gap in funding.
The state’s finances should not have affected student activities at any of the seven city colleges, according to Athena Guizar, senate chair of SGA at Harold Washington.
“We payed the student activity fee,” she said. “We said from the beginning, this is something we care about. We paid you guys because we want these activities [and] opportunities.”
Guizar requested for a full breakdown of CCC tuition and fees from district to explain where the student activity fee money went.
“We are requesting transparency and integrity from the board,” she said.
The tuition hike of 2015 followed by these cuts to student activities did not make sense, according to Jocelyn Ramirez, president of SGA at Wilbur Wright College. She advised the board to look at how other college and university campuses are handling student funds.
“They have their own budget specifically for students [to] use that no one can touch,” she said after speaking to other colleges on how they incorporate student fees in their tuition.
Ramirez also called for leadership to communicate with students from each college.
“We are requesting that the chancellor and vice chancellor fulfill one of their requirements that includes having one town hall meeting with our students at each and one of the campuses. This has yet to be done,” she said.
Both schools have collected student signatures from each campus on the issue. Wilbur Wright has collected over 1,300 signatures, according to Ramirez. “If CCC does not step up and ensure that students are receiving an education that includes activity funding, then expect students to be knocking on district’s doors,” she said.
Chancellor Cheryl L. Hyman defended the budget freezes as the least harmful way to soften the blow of the missing funds they expected from the state.
“The state funding situation means our next budget will reflect tough decisions and will require real sacrifices,” Hyman said. “The budget is still being developed but it will certainly be the most challenging we have had to produce since the launch of reinvention.”
The board is cautious of their cuts and is making strategic decisions, said Hyman.
“We’ve taken strategic measures under reinvention, [which] helped stagger off other draconian cuts in spite of the funding challenges,” she said. “We try to invest in those that are critical for students education.”