Cuesta students protest potential cuts to Emeritus program

Students in Cuesta College’s Emeritus program on Wednesday blasted potential budget cuts that could mean an end to free classes for students over 50.

Ruth Goodnow, one of five Emeritus students that attended the meeting, represented other students when she read a statement to the Board of Trustees at its meeting in Arroyo Grande.

She said she understands the budget situation, but said possible cuts to the program were discriminatory and political. Emeritus students create a vibrant atmosphere at the San Luis Obispo campus, Goodnow said.

“I was not attracted to this program because it’s free, I wanted to be part of it because of the high-caliber instruction it offers,” Goodnow, 57, said. “I consider myself a life-long learner and one of the college’s missions is to provide studies for the lifelong learner.”

Five Emeritus students and one instructor attended the meeting.

Diane Halsted, an Emeritus writing instructor, contested the possible cuts to the program by saying Emeritus students have better attendance records than academic students, some have won poetry contests, and even received book deals.

Board members responded by saying no decision has been made to cut the program, and added that rumors were started when a staff member “spoke out of turn” at an Emeritus class.

Emeritus students urged the Board to clarify the situation because, they said, most students in the program think it is going to be cut from the school’s budget. Cuesta’s Emeritus College offers free classes including courses on writing, literature, yoga, photography and painting and drawing to students over age 50.