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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Kelsey Ray shaves Jeffery Asbell at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville, Tuesday, May 15, 2012.
We hope that the board of trustees will not approve the cut of the program and instead recommend to (President Cynthia) Bioteau the she reconfigure the program so that it can continue on our campus. —Gregory Lucero

TAYLORSVILLE — Students at Salt Lake Community College are protesting the proposed elimination of the school's popular cosmetology program.

The Revolutionary Student Union, a student group with a campus chapter, is sponsoring a rally Wednesday at the SLCC Redwood Road campus hoping to send a message to the board of trustees and president of the college that the program should continue.

Gregory Lucero, president of the SLCC chapter, said the program should remain part of the school curriculum.

"We hope that the board of trustees will not approve the cut of the program," Lucero said Tuesday, "and instead recommend to (President Cynthia) Bioteau the she reconfigure the program so that it can continue on our campus."

SLCC has cited the cost of running the cosmetology program as the reason for it being terminated. Students say the college doesn't want to pay to relocate a program that "just cuts hair."

Joy Tlou, spokesperson for SLCC, said the school wants to remain fiscally responsible and the cosmetology program has been losing money.

"The program was costing over $1.4 million a year to run. And the program was only bringing in, in the form of all revenue, just over $700,000," Tlou said. "That presented us with a shortfall of over $800,000. From what I understand, that program has been running in the red like that for years." 

The cosmetology department is currently located in the Administration Building at the Redwood Road campus. The building is scheduled to be demolished.

"We are in the process of building a new instructional and administration building. When that building is complete, we are going to demolish the current administration building," Tlou said. "The labs that program currently houses in the administration building, and the build-out to relocate the labs in another facility, was somewhere around $1.2 million just to start."

Tlou also said that the cancellation of the program isn't happening because of the relocation costs, they are just happening at the same time. 

The Legislative Auditor General found in a 2011 report that public cosmetology schools have higher costs than private ones.

"Public schools tend to offer higher compensation to their employees and have higher administrative costs than private schools," the report states. "As a result, they have higher total costs."

Cosmetology student Brittney Murphy said she hasn't found anyone at the school who is happy with the decision to discontinue the program.

"In the cosmetology program, our clientele is half of the staff of SLCC, because that's one of the perks of being there because you get a free haircut if you're staff," Murphy said. "We are (always) talking to people in all the other departments. There has not been one person in any other department or any other student that has not been upset that our program is closing."

Bonnie Penrose, registration and office assistant for the cosmetology department, said the program has been so popular that it prompted an expanded class schedule.

"We used to teach two times during the day, and they added another time," Penrose said. "We average between 250 and 295 students in a given semester, and until the announcement, we would take 40 new students per semester."

Lucero added that a program as sought-after as cosmetology shouldn't be eliminated from the school.

"This is a popular community program and it should not be cut," he said. "Rather, it should be given every chance to continue in a balanced budget with the wonderful instructors and students that they have."

Department chairwoman Susan Curtis said the administration has cited financial struggles as the reason for canceling the program.

"The reason that the administration gives is finances," Curtis said. "In relocating us and the cost of our program, they said it would be too much money.

Curtis added that the student-run salon will remain open until the program officially ends.

"The first time it was announced our program was going to be discontinued, our clientele dropped off about 50 percent," Curtis said. "We will be open until 2014 and we are still here and we want them to still come as long as we are open."

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