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Students cannot back down from fight to keep campus resources available

Vice+President+for+Student+Affairs+Mary+Jo+Gonzales+discusses+the+impact+of+recent+budget+cuts+Oct.+26.+Last+week%2C+Student+Affairs+found+permanent+funding+for+two+retention+counselors.
Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales discusses the impact of recent budget cuts Oct. 26. Last week, Student Affairs found permanent funding for two retention counselors.

Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales discusses the impact of recent budget cuts Oct. 26. Last week, Student Affairs found permanent funding for two retention counselors.

LAURA BATE | Daily Evergreen File

LAURA BATE | Daily Evergreen File

Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales discusses the impact of recent budget cuts Oct. 26. Last week, Student Affairs found permanent funding for two retention counselors.

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Just over two weeks after announcing that all retention counselor contracts would expire without renewal, Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales sent a memo stating that permanent funds would be reallocated to fund two of these positions, starting next semester.

Five retention counselors will still be cut. Students value retention counselors because they are the one-on-one help many people seek, especially in light of recent campus climate issues. By drastically reducing the number of counselors, they are putting the work of seven into two people.

Keeping the positions was exactly what students and faculty have asked for, but cutting them this much will not allow them to produce the same quality of work that students fought to keep.

Administrators were right to renew their contracts, but reductions still put counselors and the students who rely on them for assistance at a disadvantage.

The fact that there will be retention counselors at WSU at all is because of students and faculty voiced their support for Multicultural Student Services.

It took the outcry to force Student Affairs put any real effort into finding additional funding.

It took a room full of students with homemade posters at an ASWSU meeting.

It took a social media storm of disapproval.

All of this added up, pushing the administration to decide they could find the funding after a second budget review.

With WSU President Kirk Schulz’s $10 million spending reduction per year for the next three years, administration wants to cut funding in places they feel will hurt the least. As the backlash shows, their evaluation was wrong.

Students care about these cuts because they utilize these resources. Administration doesn’t. Alumni don’t.

“By taking away something as crucial as a retention counselor, it’s showing that you’re not prioritizing students,” ASWSU Sen. Kacie Kubosumi said during an October ASWSU meeting when it was announced that retention counselor’s contracts would not be renewed.

Administrators underestimated student resolve by believing they could take such a valuable resource from them without resistance. Students spoke, and they spoke loud enough that administrators heard and scrambled to appease them.

“I’m sorry that we made commitments we can’t keep right now,” Gonzales said at the Oct. 18 ASWSU meeting. “I’m gonna fight like a dog to keep some of those positions permanently funded.”

She held up her end when confronted with disapproval, but had students not brought so much attention toward the cuts, there’s no telling whether the contracts would ever have been renewed. And even though two retention counselor positions were saved, there are still five others that are not being renewed.

We don’t know what cuts will come next, but if we have learned anything from Student Affairs this week, it is that we should not digress.

The Daily Evergreen believes that as students, the only way to make a change in our community is to speak truth to power. If students continue to push back on some of the unreasonable actions taken by administration, we will have our voices heard.

Students cannot afford to relax. If we do, the administration will continue to take advantage of, as Provost Dan Bernardo would say, the main revenue generators of the university — the students.

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