Selkirk students protest program cuts

Selkirk students protest program cuts

As many as 100 people – staff, students and members of the community – showed up for a Selkirk College Board of Governors meeting Tuesday night to hear the proposed suspension in college programming that is the result of more than $1 million in funding cuts from the province.

Current Selkirk students Christina Livingston, Arielle Roberts and Henry Gerelle gave a presentation protesting the program cuts.

“The three of us are all science students taking the courses being cut,” Roberts told The Source after the meeting. “We all enjoyed them and feel they’re an integral part of the college.

“First-year students are really getting messed up by this being announced too late – the admission deadlines for other colleges had already passed and they’re being left without an education.”

The  college dean has been contacting other educational institutions to request they consider Selkirk applications despite the late date, but Roberts says this only solves part of the problem.

“Some students won’t be able to afford to attend classes in other communities,” she said.

Livingston said she and her two friends are doing their best to campaign against the cuts.

“We have two objectives: the first is to lobby the provincial government to stop these drastic cuts to post-secondary education, and get them to change their arbitrary and unrealistic policies and funding formulas in dealing with rural colleges,” she said. “And, while we know Selkirk College has to make some cuts, somewhere, and we’re totally in sympathy with the horrible position they’ve been put in, we disagree with the programs they’re choosing to cut, which are the second year sciences and nine out of 16 Associate Degrees. Those are fundamental to Selkirk College’s success and are the reason the college was founded in the first place – it wasn’t supposed to be just a trades and art school.”

Livingston said they also attended the meeting seeking information – she said the board has not disclosed why the focus is on these programs, nor what other options they’ve considered. She also said the information being released to date has indicated “suspensions” as opposed to “cuts”, and has made the whole affair seem like not that big of a deal.

“We’d like people to know what’s really going on – what’s being presented to the public as minor changes are actually drastic cuts.”

Both Roberts and Livingston took the opportunity to urge local residents to call their local MP and MLA, to write to Selkirk College, the provincial government, “anyone you can think of,” as Roberts put it.

Meanwhile, Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff said the city is meeting with the college to explore how the city can help.

“I guess the funding is the key feature – that’s a lot of money to lose from your budget,” Chernoff said. “If there’s anything the city can do to help out, we’ll certainly do it.  We want to see our college growing, and building on past successes …not this.”

The students and the mayor both expressed their willingness to approach the provincial ministry shoulder-to-shoulder with Selkirk College, to lobby for more funding.As many as 100 people – staff, students and members of the community – showed up for a Selkirk College Board of Governors meeting Tuesday night to hear the proposed suspension in college programming that is the result of more than $1 million in funding cuts from the province.