Budget cuts target journalism programs at community colleges
By Marilyn Fernando
The head of the Journalism Department at College of San Mateo retired on Aug. 31 after 23 years of service. Issues related to low enrollment, course cuts and conflicts with administration over the student run newspaper, The San Matean, were blamed.
“With no Journalism classes on the horizon and all efforts to remedy enrollment problems either failed or were thwarted, the most natural step at age 62 was to take retirement,” Ed Remitz wrote in a farewell letter to colleagues.
Remitz advised the students who ran the school newspaper.
“There was an ongoing disagreement,” Remitz said. “Administration wanted a different sort of publication.”
The administration enforced a Program Improvement and Viability Process, which ultimately decided the fate of the department. Remitz said the program shut down The San Matean and then a similar paper started that was mandated by administration.
In order to salvage what was left of the journalism department, some classes were moved to Skyline, a branch of College of San Mateo, and other classes were integrated into the the digital media department.
San Jose City College’s journalism department is also fighting to keep crucial newspaper production courses intact this semester.
“It’s very unstable,” said Farideh Dada, a San Jose journalism instructor, regarding the status of newspaper production classes.
Classes in jeopardy of being cut were reinstated until Sept. 4 Dada said. Courses will continue to run if they have a minimum of 20 students, otherwise they will be cancelled.
“Once the classes are cancelled, online editions and the newspaper will stop running,” Dada said.
The same rule applies to the journalism department at San Mateo.
“The enrollment for journalism classes last semester had classes that had zero, two, three and six students and we just can’t afford to run a class on that little of people,” said Beverly Madden, the director of college business development, marketing, outreach and public relations for College of San Mateo.
Madden said a total of 17 classes ranging from journalism and digital arts to physics and art were cancelled last semester because they couldn’t muster enough students to keep the classes afloat.
“The journalism department had a healthier enrollment but those times are behind us,” Madden said.
The Editor-In-Chief of the San Jose City College Times, Jonathan Marinaro, believes the largest challenge facing the journalism department involves first amendment rights.
“Our paper has published scoops on faculty and administration that has caused a scandal to be given light. It appears that they are trying their hardest to squelch any possible repeat performance,” Marinaro said.
Follow Marilyn Fernando at @esornyliram.