February 26, 1992
By Yolanda Reynolds
The San Jose/Evergreen Community College Inaugural Celebration drew a host of people to the late Friday afternoon event. The celebration was held to formally present to local communities the new College Presidents, Del M. Anderson – San Jose City College, Richard G. Carpenter-Evergreen Valley College and the District’s new Chancellor, Ronald A. Kong.
Awaiting the politicians, educators and other guests assembled at the celebration, were angry San Jose State University students holding placards protesting the 40% increase in University enrollment fees.
The students protest was not totally lost on the celebrants. The Mistress of Ceremony, KRON-TV reporter Ysabel Duron, politely remarked on the student presence at the hotel’s entrance.
The students that were chanting, “for our future we will fight – education is our right” and “2.4, 6, 8 all we want to do is graduate,” have attempted to use every opportunity to draw public attention and support to their concern.
San Jose State University Interim President, Dr. J. Handel Evans, was one of the celebration speakers. Earlier in the week University students protested the proposed fee increase and after a demonstration at the University amphitheater, stormed the President’s office to challenge the University and its administration to take visible action in opposition to the fee increase. The President declined their request. The President, earlier in the confrontation, had told them that he shared their concerns.
Many of the University students were planning to leave Friday evening for Sacramento where students from throughout the State were gathering for a large protest at the Capitol steps on Monday.
Local State representatives attending the celebration such as John Vasconcellos, a long time advocate of education particularly for community colleges, Dominic Cortese and Alfred Alquist were also targets of the students‘ message.
Senator Alquist and Assemblyman Vasconcellos as chairman of their respective finance committees exert more inﬂuence on the budget process than almost any of their colleagues excepting Governor Wilson (R) and Assembly leader Willy Brown (D).
The celebration was spokesperson made a point of recognizing the four businesses that helped host the afternoon’s celebration.
Another sponsor of the event was the San Jose/Evergreen Community College Foundation. This Foundation was formed in the early 80’s. The Foundation was established with a million-dollar contribution from the college District. It has given scholarships to outstanding students and 18 reported to have purchased some computer equipment for the two campuses. The average total amount awarded since 1988 has been $1,900 is shared among an average of five to six students each year. Mike Hill, the college’s Chief Financial Officer did not return La Oferta’s telephone call for more details on the Foundation’s activities.
Some of the faculty questioned the expense of this first ever inaugural celebration held during a time of class reduction, increased student fees and staff layoffs.
The Colleges, like most educational institutions, have been facing difficult ﬁnancial times. Tuition fees have steadily, increased ‘even at the California Community Colleges – while at the same time financial aid for students is shrinking. The Community Colleges were once free and the envy of other states and nations. Many people have attributed California’s economic prowess in the world to its historic commitment to education. That prowess and achievement is severely threatened by cutback now, even though the competition from other countries has never been greater.
Santa Clara County Board Chairwoman and Supervisor, Zoe Lofgren commented on the need for the State and its citizens to assure the continuation of the priority. © La Oferta Publication.