Students rally in protest of cuts in California’s education budget

 

Despite planning issues, the ‘Where’s the Funding?’ (WTF?) rally, a protest against increased budget cuts for California’s community colleges, continued as planned at Pierce College Wednesday.

The rally, four weeks in the making, was organized by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Students Organizing for Success (SOS), a campus club dedicated to encouraging students to fight for their right to an education.

“[The budget cuts] are having profound effects on our students,” said Chair of the Modern Language Department Fernando Oleas, who is also a member of AFT. “This is a way to show that we care.”

One of the major changes to the original plan was the meeting location. Originally, students who wanted to participate were to congregate by the Brahma Bull statue on the Mall at 12:30 p.m.

However, another event, Justice Day, was already underway prior to the planned start time. In conjunction with this, a number of vehicles from groups at the event, like the Los Angeles Police Department, were parked on the Mall.

The rally, which drew approximately 150 supporters at its new location in Rocky Young Park, continued through Parking Lot 1 before heading to the Mason Avenue exit and down Victory Boulevard.

The ASO decided to pull their support for the rally after first attempting to convince the SOS to push back the date.

The event was poorly planned, according to the ASO Senator for the Political Science Department Shane Mooney.

Last semester, ASO members went to classrooms weeks before the event informing students of the rally. They also sent out mass emails and posted ads to Facebook.

“I was hoping that it would be a better turnout, like we had last semester, but I don’t think that we advertised enough,” said Mooney.  “I don’t think students are as motivated as they were last semester.”

The Sheriff’s Department wasn’t notified until 2p.m. Tuesday, according to Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Nohles.

STUDENT ATHLETES

There were no athletes or athletic department representatives present at the WTF? rally.

They was no notification or advertisement about the rally anywhere for the athletic department, according to Pat Croal, athletic department secretary.

Although no athletes were present at the event, Pierce football players were concerned about about the budget cuts and tuition being raised.

“It is unfair because students that don’t have nothing financially will be limited in their opportunity for education,” said wide receiver Matthew Jones. “If America wants smart students for the future they can’t raise tuition and cut funds, what we really want is for education to be as cheap as possible.”

Dancers and Music Majors

Paula Salvador, a dancer, was unaware of the WTF? rally until one of her professors offered the her extra credit for attending the rally.

“If dance classes were to be cut, it would take me longer to transfer,” she said.  “I just wish we were more informed.”

Supportive theatre students, who were aware of WTF?, showed up to express their support.

“We’re going to make our voices heard,” said Daisy Perez, theater student. “They can’t just keep taking more money from us.”

Perez joined SOS leaders as they passed out signs and listened to McKeever’s speech.

“We need to not just march today, but also march tomorrow,” said McKeever in an attempt to aspire students to continue to fight against the rise in tuition fees.  “Next fall, you may be getting less classes for more money,” he said.

Rabecca Geeslin, music student, claimed to be a supporter of the free market, and, therefore, against the protest.

“I think people should pay for what they use,” she said.

Geeslin did not participate in the WTF? rally, but walked by the protestors as they cheered McKeever’s speech.

“I don’t want prices for our tuition to go up, but I also don’t want the burden to go on to the tax payers,” she said.

 

 

 

Contributing:  Kevin Reynolds, Lior Heykenn, Shannon Ma, Alex Smith, James Hermon, Alana Kennedy, Rodrigo Carbonel, Navid Nhoi, Temi Fajemisin, Anthony Bates, Coburn Palmer