Camosun College President Kathryn Laurin speaks to a group of about 30 applied communication students after they walked across the Lansdowne campus to protest the school’s decision to axe their program next year.

Camosun College President Kathryn Laurin speaks to a group of about 30 applied communication students after they walked across the Lansdowne campus to protest the school’s decision to axe their program next year.

Camosun College plans to cut media training, radio station

Applied communication program at college falls victim to budget cuts

Applied communication students at Camosun stormed the office of the college’s president on Wednesday afternoon in protest of the recent decision to suspend their program indefinitely.

About 30 students and supporters held up banners touting the applied communication program. They gathered in front of a classroom green screen and marched toward Kathryn Laurin’s office in an effort to save the program from cancellation.

The group hoped to invite the college’s president to attend a final showcase of their work scheduled for tonight (April 13) and to hear first-hand why the program is no longer accepting new students.

“We want her to see what she’s axing,” said Carol-Lynne Michaels, a second-year applied communication student. “What we’re capable of doing is really amazing. Media generalists are very powerful people and we want to know if she’ll come see that.”

News broke last week that the two-year media program and associated radio station, Village 900 AM, were under review, a result of Camosun’s $2.5-million shortfall leading up to the 2012-13 budget.

Laurin, who did not commit to attending the student showcase, called the visit “very well organized and not unexpected,” but held firm the college’s position to suspended the program indefinitely.

“At this juncture, we’re looking to cancel the program,” Laurin said, adding that those details will likely be formalized over the next two months.

The college has exhausted every possible option for balancing the budget, Laurin said, attributing the decision to suspend the communications program to factors such as low enrolment and higher-than-average costs to deliver to students.

Camosun cut a total of 46.1 positions from the 2012-13 budget – a number which the school hopes will amount to just 20 layoffs, after early retirements and attrition are factored in.

Three full-time faculty members and one part-time support staffer are currently employed through applied communication.

Students who are now completing their first year of the program will return in September to complete their training as planned.

“We’re trying to make cuts that have the least amount of impact to students. Of course everything we do is going to have some kind of impact,” Laurin said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com