By Sarah Galzerano
On Monday, March 14, a designated group of Cumberland County College students took a trip to Trenton to visit the statehouse; but this was not your average visit. This group of students – Samantha Cocove, Georgia Salvaryn, Anthony Chesebro, Rachel DiMauro, Terron Mitchell-Green, and myself – attended an annual state-sanctioned event with Kellie Slade, Executive Director of Student Activities and Leadership, called Community College Lobby Day. The purpose of this event is to give college students, whom are active in their school community, the chance to express their hopes and concerns to state assemblymen about underfunding.
CCC sat beside New Jersey’s 18 sibling community colleges for their second time early Monday morning at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, where we were introduced and itineraries were reviewed. The walk to the statehouse was slippery, but the rain did not dampen our moods or our minds. We were privileged to meet with Assemblyman Adam J. Taliaferro, Assemblyman R. Bruce Land, and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, and befriended our neighbors Salem County and Atlantic Cape County along the way.
After first thanking the Assemblymen, our personal stories, thoughts, and worries started to flow. Some of the concerns that were discussed were the decreasing graduation rates throughout the state, the percentage of poverty specifically in our county, the expansion of NJ STARS to transfer students, the important “transition” ability a community college can provide, the blatant unaffordability of 4 year schools, the opportunity to start more bachelor programs at community colleges, the unfair underfunding of community colleges in comparison to universities, and the overall importance of receiving an education to benefit our nation’s future.
CCC freshman and education major, Samantha Cocove was honored to attend Community College Lobby Day for her first time and says she looks forward to going again next year! Her biggest concern about the lack of funding for our community colleges is “it will affect the resources that help our students become successful – the lack of budget often reduces the number of available advisors, registrars, tutors, etc.” Cocove elaborates further by saying, “I’m worried about students becoming discouraged and leaving community college altogether.” If more funding was available to us, she would hope to see more student worker programs. “This would benefit students by providing them with valuable work-related experience such as communication, customer service skills, organizational skills, and much more.”
I too am worried that students are rapidly becoming discouraged. As a student leader and active participant in Phi Theta Kappa’s C4 Initiative campaign for the past two years, I have noticed determination dwindling down to nothing. When you ask students if they’re committed to graduating, they hesitate to answer. Do you find community college important?
If you’re interested in attending Community College Lobby Day next year, contact the Student Life and Activities Office. Fight for your right for fair funding.