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Campus News

February 8th, 2024

GC students advocate for affordability, opportunity

College delegation participates in Student Advocacy Day in Annapolis


Garrett College students participated in Tuesday’s Community College Student Advocacy Day in Annapolis, including a visit with Delegate Jim Hinebaugh, who represents Garrett and Allegany counties in the House of Delegates. Pictured, left to right, are Garrett College Student Activities Manager Drew Catone, students Easton Rhoten and Tawananyasha Mirira, Delegate Hinebaugh, students Linden Antoung and Samantha Preaskorn, and Garrett College President Dr. Richard Midcap.

Annapolis, MD – Every member of the Garrett College Student Advocacy Day delegation chose GC for affordability and opportunity. The students traveled to Annapolis Tuesday to ask state legislators to restore proposed funding cuts that threaten to erode the advantages of a community college education.

"I came to Garrett because it was close to home, I could play soccer, and it was affordable," said LaVale resident Samantha Preaskorn, a member of the Garrett College delegation who noted a Promise Scholarship increased GC’s affordability for her.

Easton Rhoten, who is attending Garrett College with a Garrett County Scholarship Program award, said attending GC was always his goal.

"Growing up in the area, I always did things at the College like College and Me," said Rhoten, referring to the program that annually brings local fifth-graders to GC so they can get an early college experience.

"I knew from an early age I was going to Garrett College," added Rhoten, a student delegate who also plays baseball for the Lakers.

Linden Antoung, who grew up in Prince George’s County, said Garrett College offered an opportunity he could not find elsewhere.

"It was affordable and it was the only community college in Maryland with wrestling," said Antoung, a second-year starter on the Laker wrestling squad.

Tawananyasha Mirira came all the way from Zimbabwe for "more opportunities" than were available in his home country.

The four students represented Garrett College at Community College Student Advocacy Day, which included delegations from all 16 Maryland community colleges. A major focus of this year’s event was to advocate for restoring $22 million in cuts to community college operating budgets contained in Governor Wes Moore’s proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget.

"It was interesting seeing how things work and how different groups advocate for their interests," said Garrett College Student Activities Manager Drew Catone, who coordinated GC’s participation in the statewide event.

The community college delegates heard from several members of the legislature, all of whom support restoring at least some of the budget cuts to community colleges.

"Your budget is a reflection of your priorities. This is a priority of mine," Senator Cory McCray (District 45 – Baltimore City) said of restoring the budget cuts. "This isn’t a decision we have to let stand."

"This is not where we can cut," said Senator Mary Beth Carozza (District 38-Eastern Shore). "Budgets reflect our priorities."

Senator Sarah Elfreth (District 30-Anne Arundel County) – who said she was a student advocate in Annapolis 17 years ago – challenged the students to make their voices heard.

"This statehouse is your statehouse," said Elfreth, who in 2018 became the youngest woman ever elected to the Maryland State Senate at age 30.

The Garrett College delegation met separately with Delegate Jim Hinebaugh, who represents Garrett and Allegany counties in the House of Delegates.

Hinebaugh praised the students for participating in Advocacy Day. He also told the students he is working to restore the cuts, which would disproportionately impact Garrett College.

"I thoroughly enjoyed talking with the students about the Maryland Legislature, their experiences at Garrett College, and their future plans," said Hinebaugh. "The visit and our discussion reinforced my appreciation for how critically important GC is to Garrett County."

GC’s state funding would be cut 21 percent if Governor Moore’s budget reductions are approved by the legislature.

Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president, said he appreciated GC’s student delegates taking the time to participate in Community College Student Advocacy Day.

"That was a long day for the students," Midcap said of the seven-hour round trip. "But it was important for the legislators to hear directly from the students about the potential impact of these budget cuts."

Midcap said a cut of the scope proposed by the governor "can’t be absorbed without doing significant harm to our students, faculty, and staff."

"It’s impossible to lose one-fifth of our state funding without negative impacts," said Midcap. "I appreciate the efforts of Delegate Hinebaugh and Senator [Mike] McKay on our behalf to restore these drastic cuts."

Midcap noted Garrett College’s enrollment grew by nearly 20 percent in fall 2023.

"A 20 percent increase in students and a 21 percent decrease in state funding simply makes no sense," said Midcap. "We’ll be serving more students with less resources – and that can’t occur without real hardship."