Latest budget cuts affect student resources on campus: Meeting focuses on budget restoration

by Gustavo Buenrostro

Restoring the budget for the computer labs was a topic of discussion at the meeting for student funds held Monday in the G1 administration building.

Early in the semester, budget cuts affected labs and other student services, prompting Vice President of Academic Affairs Ruben Arenas to call a meeting to discuss the funding for the labs.

Arenas said there may be money in the general or Basic Skills Initiative fund. BSIs are funds that the state provides for developmental programs like Math and English.

He said his primary concern is to set up a minimal lab fund from the unrestricted general fund, which can be spent on anything on campus. His reasoning for this is so tutoring isn’t the last resource to get funded.

With unrestricted funds, there needs to be a minimum level of funding so that the labs can always rely on them, said Arenas. The difficulty comes, however, from the distribution of the restricted funds.

Restricted funds are part of the general fund that the school receives, but they can only be used for a specific purpose.

Arenas said that if the money comes from the general fund, it becomes easier to justify the expenses and they qualify to get money back from the state. If labs get money from other sources like BSIs, however, it becomes harder to get the money back. He also said setting up the minimum funding for labs and tieing it to utilization is the best course of action moving forward.

Amanda Ryan-Romo, director of the Learning Assistance Center, said that because the center’s budget was cut, they had to let go of several of the student workers this semester.

“Last semester, we had to turn away around 72 students in the lab. This semester, from September to today, we had to turn away 79 students,” said Ryan-Romo. She said that having student workers makes a difference in the lab.

Arenas said there is money in either the general fund or BSI and that department chairs can put together proposals for the supplies fund by December 20.

“As a college and constituents, we need to know what our priorities are. From the chair’s council, we know there needs to be cuts and sacrifices but student services cannot be one of them. We need to be reasonable about looking at our budgets and seeing what we can cut,” said Sherrie Davey, department chair of Psychology.

The Reading and Writing Center is one of the labs that received funding from not only the general fund, but also from other sources like the BSI.

Arenas said the Reading and Writing Center student worker budget was cut, but not their tutoring budget, which is perhaps larger than it has been before. He also said that the budget in the math lab from the unrestricted general fund is bigger than it has ever been.

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