LBCC students organize meeting at Capitol to discuss rising costs at community colleges
Eric Noll is happy that Oregon’s community college students will get a chance to air their concerns about rising tuition at a Student Town Hall Meeting he was instrumental in organizing.
Noll, 20, a third-year communications student at Linn-Benton Community College from Dallas, has joined with fellow students James Smith and LBCC student body president Ricky Zipp to coordinate the meeting in Salem on Monday, Feb. 13.
“It’s a crazy idea but it’s come together,” Noll said. “What we’re doing will give students an opportunity to address issues that impact their future. Right now that’s tuition.”
The town hall meeting will put students in touch with state representatives at the Oregon State Capitol for an hour-long discussion that will address funding for community colleges with an emphasis on curbing rising tuition rates.
“It’s a big concern for students,” said Smith, 24, who graduated from Sweet Home High School. “I went to work right out of high school. I know the value of keeping the cost of education down.”
The town hall meeting will bring together a panel of six representatives who will field questions about funding. The LBCC group has spent several months bringing the event together.
“The idea came from an instructor here who mentioned he had done something similar as a student in California,” Noll said. “It’s a chance to have input about keeping things affordable.”
Tuition at LBCC rose twice last year and Noll believes it will be an issue again in 2012. In-state students began the fall of 2011 paying $71.99 per credit and after two $7 per credit hour increases were paying $85.99 per credit by the start of summer term.
The increase was part of LBCC’s plan to offset a $5.5 million shortfall from the state.
Noll is the college representative to the Oregon Community College Student Association, which quickly got on board.
“Students are frustrated. We expect every school will participate,” Noll said. “We’ve worked with the LBCC administration as well. We realize their hands are tied because of the state budget.”
Noll is moderator and Zipp will make an opening address, then a reading of a letter of student solidarity will be followed by questions.
Smith said LBCC hopes to have 50 students participate. A bus will take them to the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Transportation will leave the LBCC campus at 4 and return by 7:30 p.m.
Smith and Noll will be in Salem all day to set up and attend Student Lobby Day.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Smith said. “It feels good to be doing something productive and maybe we can inspire other students to act.”
The panel will consist of Reps. Mark Johnson, District 52; Michael Dembrow, District 45; Peter Buckley, District 5; Richard Devlin, District 19; Betty Komp, District 22; and Sherrie Sprenger, District 17.
The meeting is in Hearing Room C at the Capitol building, 900 Court St. N.E, Salem. The public is invited. It will be video-streamed at www.leg.state.or.us/listn. Click on Hearing Room C. Additional information is available by contacting Noll at 503-302-0099.