Tsang talks budget cuts
Dr. Chui L. Tsang, Santa Monica College president, made a last-minute stop at the Associated Students Board of Directors meeting Monday before heading up to Sacramento. "I know what's on everyone's mind is the budget, and I want to at least have a chance to talk to you face to face and answer some of the questions that you may have about the budget," Tsang said to the eager board and students in attendance. "It affects every one of us in this room, and it affects us in a deeper way than we've ever experienced in the last forty years." The proposals for statewide budget cuts have passed, in turn raising community college tuition to $36 per unit, but the tax extensions needed to balance the budget have yet to be passed. "If we cannot get the tax extensions, we're going to have to see further cuts in our budget," said Tsang, "and $15 million just for Santa Monica College."
One proposal that is getting a lot of traction is the raising of tuition to $66 per unit. "I don't think there was a lot of calculation on the outset," said Tsang about the drastic measure that could come to fruition down the road. Tsang believes that it is an outcome that is unfortunately coming closer every day.
SMC is not the only institution facing these problems, as the UC and CSU systems are also being forced to scale back on classes and lay off employees. "If you are graduating from here and looking to transfer next year, the number of students they're taking is less," said Tsang.
"It's unfortunate that you have ended up in the college at this particular time, but we don't see anything looking better down the road for the next five years or so, until the state has worked out of this economic difficulty that it's facing right now," said Tsang.
According to Tsang, cuts could affect anything from the Big Blue Bus partnership to the way courses are taken. Though Tsang sees the Big Blue Bus program as one of his "babies," he stresses how the school's board of directors will have to look at it in terms of all of the programs the school is supporting.
Course offerings that could be potentially cut include kinesiology, Music, Dance, and Arts. "The college is not prioritizing any of the services at this time, because we find there is competing interest for other things," said Tsang, "we are going to look hard at it."
"The ability to repeat a course will most likely be eliminated."
Before he sets off for the state capitol, Tsang encouraged students to write and call the republicans in the assembly and the senate to put tax extensions on their ballot. In the chance that the tax extension makes the ballot, Tsang believes that it is imperative for all students to be actively engaged in voting and pushing the government towards change. There is only a one-week window before the extension has to be voted on,
Tsang will return to host a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, March 23rd at 3:00 P.M. in the main campus' theater.
The A.S. board also approved the funding of graduation medals for this year's graduates. The responsibility for graduation budget would usually fall to the Matriculation department, but since their budget has been cut for over a year, the Matriculation office has collaborated with the A.S. to bring the extra touch to the ceremonies.
A.S. Director of Budget Management Vincent Slevin says that the A.S spends its budget to benefit the student body and create a campus community. A.S. buys movie tickets to sell to the student body for minimal profit. "There is no real tracker for revenue," said Slevin. "About half the price of the A.S. fee goes to the Big Blue Bus program."
If the school drops funding for the Big Blue Bus program, the A.S. "wouldn't be able to absorb the full cost." Slevin added, "if they cut winter, that's a quarter of our budget." In response to being asked if A.S. could find other forms of revenue, Slevin said, "We're holding a special budget setting session and looking at different scenarios for the budget."