College launches new student programs, keeps wary eye on state budget situation

Linda Satchwell
Staff Writer

As Feather River College gears up for the 2010-11 year, the New Student Orientation Day Friday, Aug. 20, was packed with information, energy and just plain fun.

Students relaxed on the lawn, enjoyed a barbecue lunch, visited and got used to being on campus - or back on campus.

Booths and workshops provided information on what new students could expect when classes started Monday, Aug. 23; who they could look to for various kinds of assistance; and what activities, clubs and organizations were available, said Tess Oliphant, the new student trustee to FRC's board of trustees.

According to Associate Dean of Student Services Lisa Kelly, FRC determined freshmen needed more support to get off to a good start. The Student Orientation and Activities for Retention program was created because, "Students who feel self-sufficient do better," she said.

SOAR included activities designed to help students get to know each other and build a support network, said Students in Free Enterprise advisor Amy Schulz.

"Sundae Sunday" included introductions to various area churches, as well as a campus tour that showed students where to locate their classrooms prior to starting class Monday.

"SWEET Love" (Sierra West End Educational Theater) was a sexual health education workshop, where students learned about community resources and the "trials and tribulations of college relationships," including safety precautions.

"Credit Wise" was a student-led workshop where students could learn money planning tips to help them navigate successfully what is, for many, their first semester on their own.

Tomorrow, Aug. 26, is FRC Night on Main Street, an effort to introduce students to downtown merchants and community members, show them where to shop and demonstrate what a vibrant place their local shopping area is.

SIFE and merchants are planning fun, games and freebies downtown for students, 4 - 8 p.m.

New for students this year is the Pilot Student Meal Plan Program. Kelly reported at the Aug. 19 board meeting that students had been clamoring for such a program since before she came to campus last November.

Plans may be purchased in the admissions-and-records and business offices, as well as at the Eagle's Perch. Meal plans are purchased by semester and are for sale through the first three weeks of the semester (pro-rated for those weeks, depending on week of purchase).

Plan A offers three meals Monday - Thursday, and two meals Friday. Plan B provides breakfast and dinner Monday - Thursday, and Plan C is for lunch and dinner Monday - Thursday. For more information, call Connie Litz at 283-0202, ext. 317.

In more sobering news for students, the state has remained consistent - showing an inability to pass a budget.

Chief Financial Officer Jim Scoubes, backed by college president Dr. Ron Taylor, warned the FRC board of potential dire consequences if the state didn't pass a budget by the end of September.

FRC will get none of its apportioned funding until a budget is passed. The college is using its line of credit to pay for the new library building.

Even so, by the end of September, it will need a new source of funds. Scoubes and Taylor are looking into the possibility of a loan from the county, which would be a complicated and politically charged process said Taylor, since the county is equally strapped for funds.

The lack of money has already affected the college, as Taylor instituted a "spending frost" at the end of July. The college is working with a scaled down staff and without student help.

That's tough for those picking up the slack, but it also means that students who were counting on college jobs will have to look elsewhere.

In addition, Taylor has denied requests for supplies and other requisitions, instructing faculty and staff to resubmit their requests at the end of September.

Finally, Taylor said, it's likely he won't front CalGrant students their funding. In the past few years, low-income students who receive these state grants have been left in the lurch when the state hasn't passed a budget on time. They've been fronted the money by FRC, however.

This year, though, Taylor said he doesn't think that will be possible, which will no doubt leave these students scrambling to make ends meet - a tough way to begin a college career.

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