Rowan-Cabarrus students travel to Raleigh to advocate for community colleges

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2015

Students from community colleges across North Carolina have been visiting the General Assembly over the last few months to voice their support for raising instructor pay, funding community colleges for year-round instruction and maintaining affordable tuition rates. Rowan-Cabarrus students will join the group next week.

“It is so important for our students to have the opportunity to voice their concerns with their legislators. Exercising your right to vote and speaking up about what you care about is a critical part of our role as good citizens. We work hard to instill that here at Rowan-Cabarrus,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

During the visit, students have the opportunity to meet with their district’s legislators, attend a meeting of the N.C. House’s Education – Community Colleges Committee and be formally recognized by both chambers. In addition, student advocates have been emailing their legislators and using hashtags to show their support on Twitter.

In advance of their visit to Raleigh, 2014-15 Student Government Association President Anthony Rossi presented an update to the college’s board of trustees.

“This year has been ‘eye opening’ for me,” he said. “I would not have learned any of these great skills if I didn’t take on this role as student body president or if I was afraid to fail.

“The student government team this year has accomplished many of our goals … but I feel that our greatest accomplishment this year is evident in the relationships we have formed and the opportunities to learn from each other, leaders here at the college, and leaders in the community,” he added.

One such issue discussed was the concept of an interest gap. Employers have long talked about a skills gap between the skills they need and the skills that job-seekers have. Another recent identified gap is in interest – an interest gap.

“People get nervous when they hear about jobs in manufacturing. But manufacturing isn’t dead – it’s different. It’s high-tech and clean,” Spalding said. “We need our parents and young people to know that this is a viable and promising career field.”

As a result, students are calling on the N.C. General Assembly to support initiatives that would bridge the “interest” gap between the jobs that exist and the interest of students in exploring those fields. Advocating students are also calling for an infusion of funding to support high-tech equipment and community college instructors and staff.

“I appreciate the support the N.C. General Assembly has given community colleges. Investing in community colleges should be a priority. My community college, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is the most affordable, high-quality, educational choice for me and it deserves the financial support so that it can continue to be just that for others,” said Rossi.

The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College board of trustees also passed a resolution of support for a similar statewide campaign for community colleges earlier this year.

“The affordability, the quality and the accessibility offered to me during my community college experience paved the way for my success,” said La’Quon Rogers, a student at Pitt Community College in Greenville and president of the N.C. Community College Comprehensive Student Government Association. “Instructors go above and beyond to ensure that their students have everything they need to enter the workforce or transfer to a university.”

Providing the region with exemplary public higher education that anticipates and supports economic and workforce development while increasing, improving and automating services and curriculum programming is a top priority for the college.