Administrators at Salt Lake Community College decided to ax cosmetology without adequately considering public sentiment and honestly assessing the move’s impact, according to students, instructors and others who rallied Wednesday to save the popular, long-standing program.
"Sixty-two salons depend on this school. We can’t afford to close this department," Richard Ajer, a Great Clips franchisee with 14 stores, told a crowd of 50 gathered at SLCC’s main campus. "I depend on students who have math and English. These are areas I depend on for managers."
Cosmetology student Mercedes Sellis, who expects to graduate soon with an associate’s degree, praised the program as a vital pathway to a rewarding career. "I have lots of friends and family graduating from high school and want to come here," said Sellis, who is assistant manager of a group home and cuts the hair of its autistic residents. "What hurts me the most is we never got a chance to say what I wanted to say. If it’s costing money, why didn’t they raise tuition or the price of haircuts?"
SLCC trustees voted last month to cut the program, citing cost concerns and the broad availability of alternatives for learning the art of styling hair. The program operates at a $700,000 loss and is slated to lose its home when the Taylorsville campus administrative building is razed this year. Retrofitting a new space would cost a minimum of $1.2 million, officials said.