Monday, June 17

Student leaders unite, plan to save outreach from cuts


With the possibility of student outreach programs facing
extinction by the next school year, concerned student leaders and
outreach affiliates have decided to take matters into their own
hands.

The Save Outreach Coalition ““ consisting of members of the
Undergraduate Students Association Council, outreach counselors and
UCLA students ““ was recently formed to galvanize the public
in supporting outreach and to protect it from budget cuts
threatening its existence. The coalition had its first meeting last
week.

Many students said they felt obligated to make an effort to save
outreach in the face of severe budget cuts.

Last December, a 50 percent budget cut was made to K-12 outreach
programs. After Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget
cuts to outreach programs, a decision for a 100 percent budget cut
for the 2004-2005 school year may be made by the University of
California Board of Regents in June. This cut would eliminate the
programs from the UC, California State universities, and state-run
community colleges.

“Everyone involved understands outreach plays an essential
role in academic preparation of high school students who would
otherwise not be able to gain entry into the university because
their high schools lack funding,” said USAC Academic Affairs
Commissioner Sophia Kozak.

The new effort to save outreach unites various groups and
offices bringing different resources to the coalition.

Justin Schreiber, USAC Community Service commissioner, said his
office will speak with leaders from community service organization
on and off campus about the issue of outreach and encourage them to
spread the word to their members.

“In five months, we have a lot of people we can
contact,” Schreiber said.

Though the coalition is faced with the daunting task of
influencing the the governor’s decision, members of the state
Legislature, and the regents, Schreiber said he has confidence in
the success of the coalition because of the growing manpower from
the members’ collective effort.

Though no events have been held yet, organizers said several
events are currently in the works.

Petition drives and demonstrations are a few of the events
planned for the coming weeks. In addition, members of the coalition
are encouraging supporters to write letters to the governor and
state legislators to save outreach programming.

Coalition members also plan to speak out at K-12 schools that
will be affected by the potential outreach cut, and recruit the
help of students, teachers and parents.

“We’re getting self-organized so we can mobilize all
those who support outreach to prevent these cuts, and defend the
importance of outreach as an essential component of higher
education,” Kozak said.

The UCLA campus provides seven outreach programs including the
Early Academic Outreach Program and the Student Initiated Outreach
Committee.

Different programs offer different services to schools lacking
adequate funding for college preparation. Many of the programs
tutor high school students for the SATs and offer assistance with
college applications.

“It’s going to affect students coming from low
social-economic status, low-performing schools, and students of
color,” said Oscar Navarro, a fourth-year sociology student.
Navarro is also an administrator for the Career Based Outreach
Program.

The idea for the coalition came out of the SIOC when committee
members expressed the need for action to combat the budget
cuts.

Patty Lopez, the SIOC chairwoman, said because the coalition is
still in its beginning stages, there is a lot of energy and
momentum with the members.

“We’re just putting together our initial plans right
now, but hopefully we can have a real strong campaign,” Lopez
said. “Outreach affects a lot of people and we’re just
trying to do the best we can.”

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