Legislative briefing is canceled

Community college students lose chance to lobby

February 14, 2010|By John-John Williams IV | john-john.williams@baltsun.com

Maureen Evans Arthur was probably one of the few college students upset to hear that classes and school-related activities were canceled this past week.

The 24-year-old second-year journalism and anthropology major at Howard Community College was scheduled to go to Annapolis on Wednesday for the annual Student Advocacy Day, an event that draws more than 100 community college students to the state capital to speak with Maryland politicians about the importance of funding community colleges. The event started in 2001.

"It is just a way for so many students to meet with their elected officials and put a face to a number," Evans Arthur said. "When they are in their meetings and they see statistics - that is just numbers. This puts a human aspect behind the numbers and figures that they see."

The event will not be rescheduled this year because of the demanding schedule of the General Assembly, according to Nancy Santos Gainer, spokeswoman for Howard Community College.

Instead, members from each of the 16 community colleges in the state will create a Web site featuring testimonials and other facts in the hopes of attracting attention to the importance of community colleges.

"We really haven't talked about the details," Santos Gainer said. "The community colleges will be talking about this together. We are still at the gaining and consensus stage."

Evans Arthur, a Columbia resident, was scheduled to present the student address to the General Assembly. A former stay-at-home mother, Evans Arthur originally enrolled in Howard Community College part-time in 2008. She instantly fell in love with the school and became a full-time student the next semester.

The close proximity to her newborn, the flexibility of the schedule and the affordability were the perfect mix for Evans Arthur.

"It was an experience that you wouldn't be able to get at any of the four-year schools," she said.

"Keeping a college affordable is a necessity," Evans Arthur said. "None of us can afford a tuition increase. An increase would be detrimental. If they are going to start raising prices you ask, 'Why shouldn't I be at a four-year school?' "

Evans Arthur attended the event in Annapolis last year.

"I was very much looking forward to speaking," Evans Arthur said. "[But] given the insane weather that we have had, it is understandable. I am kind of bummed. This is my last year. I still feel like Howard Community College will make sure that our voices are being heard."

Evans Arthur, who hopes to attend the University of Maryland, College Park or American University and major in journalism and minor in anthropology, thinks that the Web site will be a great way to convey the students' concerns to politicians.

"That will be a great asset," she said.

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