Staff and students are working hard to keep costs at Chemeketa as low as possible
By Nathan Pisano – Photo By David Hallett
Chemeketa is on your side.
Both the Associated Students of Chemeketa and college staff are working to keep tuition low, even if the student rally that took place on Feb. 12 at the state Capitol is not successful.
During the 2013-2015 biennium, state funding for the 17 community colleges in Oregon was $465 million. The reported goal for the 2015-2017 biennium is $550 million.
If the government does not fund $550 million, tuition will be increased, Jon Kiser said.
Kiser is the executive coordinator of ASC, the student government group at Chemeketa. In his duties he acts as the liaison between students, the administration, and the Board of Education.
At its monthly meeting on Feb. 18, Chemeketa’s Board of Education met to discuss a plan for tuition should the state’s funding goal not be reached.
The proposal for 2015- 2016 is tied to at least three funding targets:
State funding of $500 million or less would result in a $2 increase per credit;
Funding of $500 to $535 million would result in a $1 increase per credit; and
Funding of $535 million or more would mean no increase.
The results of the efforts made during the rally and in subsequent lobbying efforts may not be known until late June or early July, when the Legislature makes its final decision.
The rally may be over, but that does not mean that student government representatives have finished their work on keeping tuition costs down.
“The student rally and lobbying is a big project that ASC worked on this term, but they are also collecting student surveys,” Adam Holden, the college’s civic engagement coordinator, said.
The survey focused on the effect of tuition costs on Chemeketa students and was circulating the campus for at least two weeks.
More than 300 surveys have been filled out and ASC continues to collect surveys through March 6.
Among the survey’s findings: 85 percent said that affordability of education was a major issue, while 88 percent did not support tuition increase.
The results were given to Board of Education members during the Feb. 18 meeting.
“They seemed pretty interested about it,” Kiser said. “And now that we officially have Julie as president, I think that will help us more with these kinds of things.”
Julie Huckestein, the college’s former chief financial officer and interim president, was appointed permanent college president at the meeting. Kiser said she has shown tremendous support for what ASC was trying to accomplish.
Two student government members, along with Holden, are heading to Washington, D.C., March 27 to 30 for the National Grassroots Legislative Convention, where students have the opportunity to rally and lobby in D.C.
The trip is being funded by Huckestein and Jim Eustrom, the college’s interim vice president for Instruction & Student Services.
“ASC put together a request for funding and sent it to President Huckestein’s office because she had previously shown interest in possibly sending ASC students to a national legislative conference like this,” Holden said.
Along with efforts to keep tuition low, Chemeketa staff members are also working on reducing the price of textbooks.
Chemeketa has been in contact with Cable Green, the director of Global Learning at Creative Commons. He is scheduled to visit the campus March 4 for a presentation and workshops on ways for Chemeketa to use open education resources to potentially reduce the cost of textbooks.
Holden said that additional methods of keeping textbook costs low were being discussed.
If students want to help, Holden said, they are urged to write letters that describe the financial hardships they have had as a result of the cost of education.
These letters could then be delivered to Oregon senators and representatives at the Capitol Building in Salem by Holden and ASC members.
For more information, contact Holden at firstname.lastname@example.org.