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Cutting University System not the answer
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Editor, The nearly $600 million in budget cuts proposed for the University System of Georgia struck a chord with me when I learned how the budget cuts would affect my region. I am a senior at Dalton State College majoring in social work.
Last week, I learned that DSC administrators have identified the School of Social Work as an academic program that could be reduced or eliminated as a cost-cutting measure. I will graduate with a bachelor’s in social Work in May, so the proposed cuts are not likely to affect my plans. However, the local community would clearly be negatively impacted by the loss of the DSC School of Social Work.
 The social work program, which is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, is the only bilingual, bicultural program in the nation. All of the 2009 graduates already have jobs in social work. Many graduates have participated in a program funded by the state and federal governments to provide specialized training for graduates who want to work in child welfare within the Department of Family and Children Services. There is a critical shortage of specially trained, professional social workers in the public welfare system.
Social workers have the right education, experience and dedication to help people help themselves whenever and wherever they need it. Social workers help people in all stages of life, from children to the elderly, and from all situations, from adoption to hospice care. You can find social workers in hospitals, police departments, mental health clinics, military facilities and even corporations. Professional social workers are the nation’s largest providers of mental health services. Eliminating or weakening Dalton State’s social work program at a time when the economy is strained, local unemployment rates are among the highest in the nation and families are in desperate need of social services seems to me to be unwise and counterproductive.
Helping people help themselves is also a fundamental principle of social work, and when the news of the USG budget cuts became public, I was able to use the professional social work skills I have acquired to facilitate collective problem-solving and networking with people from every region in Georgia. My fellow students and I have been working tirelessly to encourage others to contact legislators and make their opinions about the proposed USG budget cuts known. We have visited the Capitol, spoken to legislators about our concerns, attended legislative committee meetings and organized a small protest in front of the Georgia Capitol. We also held press conferences and coordinated planning among students at USG colleges and universities.
We appreciate the support for the USG that Gov. Perdue has expressed, and USG students are eagerly looking forward to seeing him make good on his promise to protect higher education. Unfortunately, the public is painfully aware that, in politics, promises made are far more prevalent than promises fulfilled. We hope that Gov. Perdue will write a new chapter in the political textbooks that will inspire a generation of Georgia’s college students. We are under no illusions: the economy is strained. But generating additional revenue would eliminate the need for further cuts to the USG.
Supporters of the system from across the state have planned a peaceful protest of approximately 4,000 people to protest the proposed budget cuts and to call for alternative solutions for the budget crisis. Some Dalton State students will attend the rally at the Capitol; other DSC students are helping to organize and prepare for the rally. We are aware of the gravity of the state budget situation, but we are also committed to keeping quality higher education within the reach of students regardless of their income.
Education should be available to every qualified person — not only to those who can afford to attend a private, expensive college or university. We are determined to see the battle for quality, affordable higher education through to its conclusion. We will not back down. The public is welcome to join us at the rally in Atlanta, and I encourage readers to continue to write or call you legislators. For additional information, please go to
— C. Isabella Sanhueza
Dalton State Colleg
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