PCC staff and students gathered into a conference room in the Shatford library on Tuesday to discuss the recent proposal by the Trump administration that would reduce funding for the TRIO programs on campus.
Funded by the US Department of Education, TRIO is a set of programs that help graduating high school students with low income or disadvantaged backgrounds in pursuit of their college career. Serving over 790,000 students nationwide and over 1400 here at PCC, the TRIO programs have helped many achieve their dreams of pursuing a post high school education.
PCC alumna, Gaby Perez, spoke of her experience in the TRIO programs.
“I started my TRIO experience back in 2007, and it has changed my life in ways that I would not have imagined,” Perez said. “Without [TRIO] I would have been lost throughout my high school experience when it came to preparing for college. This program provided me the skills and resources I needed to be able to access college.”
The budget request released by Congress goes into further detail of the change coming to the TRIO programs.
“For fiscal year 2019, the Administration requests $550 million for the Federal TRIO programs, a decrease of $393.5 million from the fiscal year 2018 annualized CR level,” said the budget “This proposal supports a number of the Administration’s most important objectives, including shifting authority and responsibility from the Federal government to the States…”
Many throughout the meeting voiced their opinion on why they think this budget cut is being proposed, including Patricia D’Orange-Martin who works in the Veterans Resource Center.
“It seems as if the current person heading the Department of Education is not from a public school background, and is someone who is in the top one percent to put it mildly,” D’Orange Martin said. “This current administration is finding a lot of areas and programs that have been very successful in the past, but are cutting just for cutting. Past administrations wanted to help bring people out of poverty and move them up the economic ladder and that does not seem to be the current administration’s focus.”
The dean of student services, Dr. Ofelia R. Arellano, spoke about what negative effects would happen if this budget is approved.
“It would be disastrous, we would not be able to afford to help as many students,” Arellano said. “If this budget is passed then we might not be able to keep the TRIO programs here at PCC.”
PCC staff is not taking this lightly and is fighting back. PCC Superintendent-President, Rajen Vurdien, wrote a letter to representatives in Washington D.C. supporting the funding of the TRIO programs. This is not where the fighting stops. Current PCC TRIO members and alumni are traveling to Washington D.C. to speak at a policy seminar.
Crista Casillas, the director of the Upward Bound Math-Science division of TRIO, explained what will be going on in the nation’s capital.
“The event is so amazing,” she said. “TRIO participants get to fly to Washington and speak at a policy seminar. They get to meet representatives and share their experiences with the TRIO programs. They are going to speak and hopefully increase funding for TRIO. We are also bringing along a petition to give to the representatives in hopes that it will convince them to not pass this budget.”
A lot of students’ futures are riding on the backs of this seminar. If the budget is passed, thousands will be left without help.