California protests take holistic look

Community colleges are important to the University of California system.

A day after the largest University of California system-wide protest in recent memory, we must remember that while the California State University and UC systems have sustained the deepest cuts in state funding, the California Community Colleges face an unprecedented need in the wake of enrollment cuts at other state universities. And just last week, state legislators found out that the community colleges will receive $90 million less in stimulus funds than expected. The funds will be enough to cover the budget cuts from 2008-09, but are a drop in the bucket compared to the $520 million reduction in the current budget. The majority of UC students may not have much interest in the fate of community colleges, especially with our own university in such dire straits, but these institutions represent the closest thing to truly public higher education and it’s imperative that we recognize the valuable service they provide; they are one of the last affordable options for Californians. As of 2008, transfer students composed roughly 25 percent of UC undergraduates. For students who can’t afford four years of UC tuition or meet the requirements out of high school, the transfer route is an affordable, achievable alternative to the traditional four-year path. Because so many UC Berkeley students make their way to this campus as transfers, it’s critical that we maintain and adequately fund the community colleges that make this conduit possible. Forcing community colleges to turn away needy students and eliminate courses required to transfer is extremely detrimental to the future of the state. Thousands of underrepresented students rely on community colleges to acquire advanced degrees and, as we fight to advocate for a fully funded University of California, let us not forget the important role community colleges play in maintaining the diversity and quality characteristic of the UC system. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley. Please send comments to [email protected]