Students are fighting against EOF program budget cuts

Defunding of the program could affect a number of students’ chance to achieve a college education

Yesterday, the Educational Opportunity Program Student Association (EOPSA) held an event at the Center for Latino Arts and Culture to advocate against a 2.5 million dollar budget cut against the EOF Program.

Governor Chris Christie recently proposed a $2,565,000 cut to New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Fund, a program that provides financial assistance to disadvantaged students.  Universities across the state have been fighting against the budget cuts, including Rutgers. EOPSA, the official representatives of the EOF student body on campus, sponsored an event allowing students to have the chance to speak up. At the event, students recorded videos and wrote emails to their legislators explaining what the program means to them.

Students sending emails to their legislators

EOPSA’s president, Wanda Quintanilla, stressed the importance of why the program should not lose funding.

She said: “I look at the EOF community and I see all the amazing students, all the great things that they are doing will be reduced. Because of the defunding of a program, a lot of dreams and a lot of amazing things that are happening will end.”

As an EOF scholar herself, Quintanilla credits the program for her success in her academics.

“EOF, to me, has been the one link, the reason why [I’m] able to come to college. I guess how it makes it special is because without EOF, that wouldn’t have been possible for me. I probably wouldn’t have been able to because I am an immigrant. I realized that did push me back from probably performing well in standardized tests and the EOF program allows [me] to come to college regardless of that aspect.”

Darrell Real and Wanda Quintanilla

The EOF program allows students to access higher education despite their race, ethnicity, and low-economic status and defunding of the program could affect a number of students’ chance to achieve a college education.

Darrell Real, the public relations chair of EOPSA, explained why it was important to attend the event and advocate for the program.

He said: “I think it was important to come because I’m not only representing myself, I’m representing something that happened 49 years ago and that was the riot of ‘67 and I think that a lot of people don’t know what happened in the riots of Newark. It helped push the creation of the EOF program in 1968. I think that even though the riots are over, the fire that burned within the riots has transcended through EOF.”

The Newark riots of 1967 were a series of riots calling for more educational opportunities to be available for minorities. Two years later in 1969, students at Rutgers-Newark took over Conklin Hall and protested for more diversity in Rutgers. Their efforts allowed the EOF program to thrive and make Rutgers one of the most diverse universities in the United States.

Although the program has come a long way since then, it continues to face issues that could potentially affect students all across the state. On March 14, students will be traveling to Trenton for EOF Student Day in an effort to fight for the program.

Rutgers University