Students rally against cuts at the college

LEONARD MINSKI gives a talk to students, staff and community members gathered at Northwest Community College’s Kiva Cafe Feb. 1. - LAUREN BENN PHOTO
LEONARD MINSKI gives a talk to students, staff and community members gathered at Northwest Community College’s Kiva Cafe Feb. 1.
— image credit: LAUREN BENN PHOTO

NORTHWEST COMMUNITY College students and staff rallied last week in the face of looming budget cuts which will affect programs and services.

More than 100 gathered at Northwest Community College’s Kiva Cafe Feb. 1 to talk about the need to change the way the college is governed.

The rally also coincided with a national day of action by post-secondary students across the country who want tuition fees lowered.

After an afternoon of presentations hosted by the college’s student union at the Kiva cafe, Local 66, 80 signatures were gathered on two petitions.

The first called NWCC’s board to join in lobbying the federal and provincial governments for money for institutions, regulated education standards, lower tuition fees and to alleviate some student debt-repayment burdens.

“We want (college) president Denise Henning to take $2 million to the bank rather than make cuts to NWCC’s courses, programs and services,” read one of the letters sent to provincial advanced  education minister Naomi Yamamoto concerning the estimated size of the college deficit. “NWCC needs a bailout now.”

The next letter was sent to the federal government, provincial and NWCC board of governors.

“This ($2 million) cut is planned for at a time when our region needs more educational opportunities,” it read. “More cuts will further reduce access to education to post-secondary education.”

The petition called on the federal government to increase money given to provinces for education, provide education grants instead of tax-credits, and eliminate interest on federal student loans.

It asked the province to restore money given to colleges per student to what it was in 2001 with inflation, top-up what the colleges now get in tuition fees, eliminate interest on B.C. student loans and restore grants to education that have been cut.

To the NWCC board of governors, the petition called them to join the lobbying efforts above and also freeze tuition and fees.

Those who gave presentations at the rally included Leonard Minski, who provided the college with advice on the programs it should offer in the 1970s, Kitsumkalum education administrator Charlotte Guno, and local teacher Colleen Austin.

The three encouraged students at the rally to fight for the right to an education in ways most meaningful to them.

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