Mountain View Voice

News - March 5, 2010

Cuts could cripple De Anza's Voz

by Kelsey Mesher

De Anza Community College President Brian Murphy announced at the end of January a slew of looming layoffs, including one position that could shut down operations at one of the region's most important student newspapers: La Voz.

Murphy said in a letter to De Anza staff and community members that in order to balance next year's budget — $4.8 million less than this year — dozens of hourly classified positions and 24 full-time staff members will be laid off effective June 30, with 14 more losing their jobs on June 30 of the following year.

Among those in the second round of layoffs is Walter Alvarado, the learning lab and student publications assistant who does pivotal work for La Voz, the weekly student newspaper.

"While no one has saidLa Voz will have problems, the union president has told me, once this position is gone the work that he does is going away," said Beth Grobman, De Anza professor of journalism and mass communication and chair of the department.

The union president, Blanche Monary, explained to the Voice that her union — the Association of Classified Employees at Foothill De-Anza, which represents most of the affected workers — has contractual control of Alvarado's position, meaning that losing him eliminates the position for good.

"The best way to look at it is we own the work, or the work is actually our property," Monary said. "When they lay someone off, no one outside of the union can do the work."

"A lot of people are saying 'We'll help out,' but it would be against the contract," Grobman said. That's a shame, she added, since "La Voz gives a First Amendment voice to the students and the staff on campus. This is our main method of communication, and a lot of people will be a lot less informed without it."

The budget shortfalls at De Anza are just part of a $10.6 million gap facing the Foothill-De Anza Community College District as a whole, according to district spokesperson Becky Bartindale. That figure, she said, is after every employee took a health benefits cut to save $5.3 million at the end of 2009.

"Sadly, I think all of us there, whether we're faculty or administers or worker bees, we're there because we believe in the students, and they're the ones who are really going to suffer," Monary said.

E-mail Kelsey Mesher at kmesher@mv-voice.com ?? ?? ?? ??

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