With the November elections just around the corner, Students Organizing for Success (SOS) has made it a goal to educate students at Pierce on the issues that could be affecting them on this year’s ballot.
Like other students on campus, the members of SOS have been affected by the cuts to education in California.
Wandoly Juarez, a business administration major and SOS member, has seen fees rise and classes disappear since coming to Pierce three years ago. Over the summer, she also had difficulty in seeing a counselor due to the fewer number available, she said.
“During summer I tried walking in [the counseling office], and I had to wait for about four hours,” Juarez said.
Other members have also seen their friends struggle to access an education.
Ruben Garcia, a sociology major and member of SOS and Resistance Against Gutting Education (RAGE), has a friend at CSUN who’s able to get all the classes he needs.
The increased cost compared to a community college put a financial strain on his friend, though.
“From a lack of opportunities and hope, my friend has decided to drop from school,” Garcia said.
Witnessing the difficulty in attending college galvanized some members to join the club, along with a desire to educate their peers on student issues.
“The number one issue right now is Proposition 30,” Juarez said. “If the measure fails during the November election, the state would have to cut $6 billion from the education budget.”
SOS has stepped up its efforts to make sure students vote in November.
The club focused on registering students to vote, doing class presentations, phone-banking on the weekdays, and helping out with Pierce’s recent Day of Politics.
In total, the club registered over 300 students, according to Juarez.
Outside of spreading awareness on specific issues such as Prop. 30, empowering students in their ability to affect change is a long-term goal of the club, according to Garcia.
“By voting, I believe that it’s the student’s role to be at the forefront of any social movement,” Garcia said.
The club believes that younger voters tend to be stereotyped as apathetic, when apathy is a problem that spreads across demographics, according to James McKeever, club advisor and sociology professor.
“It’s not just students,” McKeever said. “It’s a problem in the nation when we have such limited choices in our political parties.”
McKeever acknowledges the road to a fairer education will not be an easy one, drawing comparisons to other movements that pushed for the rights of women and minorities.
“We have to realize we’re gonna have to work for it,” he said. “We’re gonna have to fight for it.”
Juarez believes that students must weather that difficulty or risk losing the progress they are making.
“If activism does stop, we’re just going to go downhill from here,” she said.
Presently, Garcia believes that students can mobilize and change their education for the better.
If not, the weight of state cuts will fall on them, and students will have to fight back after things get worse, according to Garcia.
“Either way I believe change will occur,” Garcia said. “But the question is can we the students afford to wait.”