Protest’s coffin makes its way across L.A. colleges

The “Education is Dead!” coffin that paraded through Pierce last month is expected to make its way through Los Angeles area colleges and universities before heading to Sacramento in May.


During the “Education is Dead!” protest that occurred last month at Pierce, students guided the coffin, filled with letters addressed to Gov. Jerry Brown, through campus in a mock-funeral procession.


The coffin is expected to arrive in the state capital in May, where it will be presented to the governor and state legislators.


“It really just symbolizes this idea that if you don’t give students an opportunity, you’re killing their dreams,” James McKeever, assistant professor of sociology, said. McKeever also spoke at last month’s protest.


The coffin so far has been to CSUN, and is expected to go East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles Trade Tech College, Los Angeles Valley College, and Los Angeles Harbor College.


Between now and May though, any college is welcome to take the coffin, said McKeever, who’s also advisor to Black Student Union, Sociology Club, and Students Organizing for Success. All three organizations participated in last month’s protest.


The idea behind the coffin demonstration originated in Resistance Against Gutting Education (R.A.G.E.), an informal organization at Pierce, and the coffin was built by R.A.G.E member Ruben Garcia and his father.


R.A.G.E first began organizing the event during the winter session, said Carlos Cruz, president of Sociology Club and R.A.G.E. member.


“We want to send it to as many community colleges in our area,” Cruz said.


After making a stop at Cal State L.A., the plan is to transport the coffin by hearse along the I-5 to Sacramento, potentially making stops at colleges along the way, said McKeever.

While he acknowledged that the recession of the 1980s doubled fee increases from $6 a unit to $11 a unit, he said the doubling of fee increases from $26 a unit to $46 a unit over the past few years was much more significant.


The result he said, takes a toll on working-class and minority students that look to community college.


“I find it incredibly–not just disappointing—but disheartening watching all these students have to go around begging for classes,” McKeever said.


Cruz has seen this firsthand.


“I’ve seen my friends drop out of college just because they couldn’t get a class,” he said.


Of those friends that try to enter the job market straight away, they find even worse luck, he said.


The strain of tuition increases also affects student’s abilities to afford other things, such as books.


“With the rise in tuition and the number of classes being cut, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on books,” Ishmael Karim, a political science major, said.


Instead, he opts to check out his books in the libraries.


“Some of these books are more expensive than my classes,” Cruz said.


In response to the struggles many students face today, McKeever encourages students to make their voices heard to state legislators.


“They need to let them know, ‘If you don’t give us an opportunity for the future, you have no future in politics,’” he said.

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