Cabrillo journalism department avoids possible elimination
Room 407 may look like an ordinary classroom at first glance, but a wooden sign swinging above the glass door sets it apart from any other room on the Cabrillo College campus. “The Cabrillo Voice,” the sign reads, signifying the room as the home of the school’s student-run newspaper.
Inside, students bustle about, craning at computer screens and making suggestions as they periodically stop to pet Riley, the standard poodle that is just as much a fixture of the room as the newspapers strewn about.
As recently as last week, students and faculty feared that this place—and the journalistic efforts it represents—would be lost in the school’s upcoming round of budget cuts. But thanks to a donation from Cabrillo’s English department, the program’s future looks promising.
Journalism had been identified as potential collateral for meeting a $2.5 million target reduction for the 2012-13 academic year. But when the English department got wind of the story, they gave the program eight units to avoid it being cut from 24 to 16 units. Journalism has been reduced from 48 units since 2009.
Journalism program chair and the Cabrillo Voice advisor Brad Kava says he was thrilled to hear the news.
“It’s going to save journalism,” Kava says. “The faculty, English department and Jim Weckler have really stuck with us, and that’s good to know they really care about the department and students’ education.”
Journalism was recently deemed one of Cabrillo’s three least valuable programs, along with real estate and welding. The program’s worth was determined by a ranking system that was created to help inform budgetary decisions, says faculty senate president and history professor Michael Mangin.
“About a year ago some folks put forth the idea to have a subcommittee of administrators and faculty come up with objective criteria that could tell us about efficient savings,” he says.
By the end of the process, they had developed a numerical matrix with five weighted categories, the most significant of which was efficiency, or the cost to run the program. Other categories include the program mission, student success, accessibility and community support. Journalism ranked 16th out of 20 departments in the efficiency category and appeared no higher than 14th in any category.
The results surprised department head Kava, who believes the program should not be ranked so low.
“I don’t really understand the formula,” Kava says. “My classes are full and my students are in the community and getting jobs, so I don’t know what’s better than that.”
Cabrillo student and The Voice photo editor Juan Reyes was equally dismayed by the results, given what the journalism program has done for him. Reyes, who was born and raised in Watsonville, used to work in a bakery from 3 to 10 a.m. before heading to class. He recently quit this job to better accommodate his schoolwork and an internship with Patch.com.
“The journalism program has built up my confidence, and without it I think I’d still be lost,” Reyes says.
Although journalism course units will likely not be diminished for the upcoming academic year, the same cannot be said for many other programs. The number of welding classes offered will decrease and real estate “is cutting back pretty close to the bone, if not down to zero classes next year,” says Mangin.
“Right now, it looks like the college is moving forward with plans to cut a lot of classes from the 2012-13 schedule … impacting many of the programs offered at the college,” he says.
Meanwhile, Kava knows that nothing is guaranteed with the current economic instability. But he feels confident that the English department’s donation will solidify journalism’s place at Cabrillo for years to come.
“We’re all taking it day by day, year by year,” Kava says. “We’ve survived through 2013, but as long as we have those units we can stay forever.”