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District must be held responsible for budget cuts: Staff Editorial

 Clubs counted on their budgets, only to have them frozen for reasons out of their control. (Illustration /Antonio Garcia  )

 Clubs counted on their budgets, only to have them frozen for reasons out of their control. (Illustration /Antonio Garcia)

By The Herald Editorial Staff

Harold Washington has gutted the budgets of all of its clubs, claiming “budget constraints” coming from the district office of City Colleges of Chicago.

The clubs are raising concerns, petitioning, calling for meetings and more importantly, they are seeking real answers. They all seem to say “we are not stupid.” They understand expenses, responsibilities and of course Illinois’ budget issues. But these same scripted answers they are getting from CCC leaders are not enough.

Here are some examples of what district has recently defunded at HWC: Student Government Association, responsible for all leading clubs and organizations on campus; The Garland Court Review, our school’s printed magazine since 1962; SPARK, the mentorship program that aims to increase CPS graduation rates and put them into college; the UN club, which exposes students to urgent international issues through speakers and events. And now, an evolving art club’s fliers have a notice that states “due to budget cuts, the date in which the supplies arrive has been pushed back.”

Every budget sent to administration has been approved or disapproved with no explanations or reasons behind the decision, according to SGA. Recently, they were told that funds could only be used for “necessities,” but of course with no detail of what truly constitutes under that description. The announcement was sudden, leaving members frustrated that they did not know sooner before spending. 

“We want to know where our money is going, especially after the tuition hike,” said Athena Guizar, senate chair of SGA. 

A percentage of every student’s tuition goes to SGA and they facilitate all the clubs that have been cut. As of now, district has not provided any space for negotiation or communication, creating an immense amount of disparity between district leaders and student leaders. 

What this tells everyone is that either district has no legitimate answers or proof for what is going on, are not courageous enough to step up to the truth, or they simply do not take their students seriously. And if this is the case, then at least some communication or effort should be made to assure that they are listening and that they care for their students. And if the students are not important enough to speak to, then administrators and presidents should be informed to let the students know.

We appreciate President Martyn’s open meeting with SGA to discuss the concerns (see page 1). This is something we hope all CCC presidents are doing for their students. But again, because of the lack of information provided even to administration, no direct figures, explanations or answers were provided.

“We care about our education, so we are investing it,” said student senators. 

These students care and understand the importance of clubs and organizations on campus. Budget cuts have not stopped them from putting their flyers on the walls and having their meetings. Some reported that they would even ask for donations. They are trying to make this the ultimate college experience for all students and to show that an education at City Colleges is worth it.

An academic institution where students simply come to school then go home might as well be called high school. How does CCC expect more student enrollments if there are no assets, leadership opportunities or programs for students to express themselves and engage in? How will they show that city colleges can be a pivotal moment in students’ academic careers or a place for reinvention?

Listen, district. We do not know what is going on there or what your plans are. We are not ignorant to the important and stressful work that you do either. We only know where we stand and what we are doing on our part. But if you care at all to defend your actions and address our concerns, then there is one simple thing you can starting doing: talk to us.

hwctheherald@gmail.com

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