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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Students rally for education at the state Capitol

 

 

Marching across the Tower Bridge in Sacramento, Calif., a wave of chants rippled through the crowd of thousands of protesters.

“The students united cannot be defeated.”

Sixteen Pierce College students from the Associated Students Organization and Students Organizing for Success travelled to the state Capitol on March 4 for the March in March, protesting budget cuts and advocating increased college funding.

The Pierce group met at the Pierce campus at 10 p.m. on March 3 where they boarded an ASO-funded charter bus that took them to the Capitol overnight.

The march began at 10 a.m. on Monday, beginning at Raley Field, crossing the Tower Bridge up to the steps of the Capitol where a rally was held.

Around 5,000 people took part in the march, according Dr. Zachary Knorr, a professor at the University of California, Riverside.

The attendance was surprising to professor James McKeever, the faculty mentor for the trip, who thought the passing of Proposition 30 in the November elections would make students more apathetic.

“I think the turnout is amazing,” McKeever said. “I thought it’d be a third of this.”

Also surprised with the attendance was SOS member Ruben Garcia, who travelled to Sacramento ahead of the bus.

“People are still interested in education,” Garcia said.

Despite the passing of Proposition 30, attendees, including professor McKeever, stressed the importance of continuing the fight to stop cuts and bring back lost funding.

“This is when it’s really more important to sit there and demonstrate that the students who voted for those things are still watching and still care about the issues,” McKeever said.

Though Proposition 30 passed, the price per unit has not gone down from $46, which McKeever said is an important issue to bring to the state government.

“Some people, even Jerry Brown, have made statements about how tuitions are still lower than the national average so we still have room to move up, and I think that’s the wrong way to look at it,” McKeever said. “I think we should be looking at $14 or $15 per unit, or even free actually.”

Former ASO president Ken Sherman was also on the trip, and he was also critical of the cost of community college.

“When I went [to Pierce], it went from $5 to $11 per unit, and now it’s forty-something dollars per unit?” Sherman said. “That’s ridiculous, community college isn’t supposed to be like a Cal state school where you can’t afford it.”

Other than lowering costs of education, protesters also want the new funding from Proposition 30 to be properly allocated, including SOS member Bernard Hanamichi, who went on the trip to keep legislators accountable.

“We want funding to go specifically to the classrooms,” Hanamichi said. “[Pierce has] the physical space for more classes, but there are lots of students who have to crash courses.”

Sherman also took issue with a proposed 90-unit cap on students who wish to attend community colleges in Calif.

“I have 138 units. If I were to come back to Pierce to try to help myself get a job, I wouldn’t be able to,” Sherman said.

Many protesters held a similar view. Chants of “90-unit cap? That’s a bunch of crap” were frequent throughout the march.

Representatives from all three systems of higher education helped organize the event, including the president of the University of California Students Association, Raquel Morales.

“Our point was to stand in solidarity with one another as the three systems and to get the point across that we need more funding,” Morales said. “The students were really fired up. Hopefully the legislators got the message.

The theme of the event was summed up by the president of the Associated Student Council at the City College of San Francisco, Shanell Williams, who spoke at the rally.

“Higher education should be available to all, regardless of their economic means,” Williams said.

Afterwards, participants had a chance to speak with legislators, though the opportunities were not guaranteed without an appointment.

McKeever was pleased with the overall event and was happy to see the students’ passion, especially from the SOS members that had traveled over eight hours by bus to reach Sacramento.

“They are a group of students that really, truly inspire me,” McKeever said.

Marching across the Tower Bridge in Sacramento, Calif., a wave of chants rippled through the crowd of thousands of protesters.

“The students united cannot be defeated.”

Sixteen Pierce College students from the Associated Students Organization and Students Organizing for Success travelled to the state Capitol on March 4 for the March in March, protesting budget cuts and advocating increased college funding.

The Pierce group met on campus at 10 p.m. on March 3 where they boarded an ASO-funded charter bus that took them to the Capitol overnight.

The march began at 10 a.m. on Monday, beginning at Raley Field, crossing the Tower Bridge up to the steps of the Capitol where a rally was held.

Around 5,000 people took part in the march, according Dr. Zachary Knorr, a professor at the University of California, Riverside.

The attendance was surprising to professor James McKeever, the faculty mentor for the trip, who thought the passing of Proposition 30 in the November elections would make students more apathetic.

“I think the turnout is amazing,” McKeever said. “I thought it’d be a third of this.”

Also surprised with the attendance was SOS member Ruben Garcia, who travelled to Sacramento ahead of the bus.

“People are still interested in education,” Garcia said.

Despite the passing of Proposition 30, attendees, including professor McKeever, stressed the importance of continuing the fight to stop cuts and bring back lost funding.

“This is when it’s really more important to sit there and demonstrate that the students who voted for those things are still watching and still care about the issues,” McKeever said.

Though Proposition 30 passed, the price per unit has not gone down from $46, which McKeever said is an important issue to bring to the state government.

“Some people, even Jerry Brown, have made statements about how tuitions are still lower than the national average so we still have room to move up, and I think that’s the wrong way to look at it,” McKeever said. “I think we should be looking at $14 or $15 per unit, or even free actually.”

Former ASO president Ken Sherman was also on the trip, and he was also critical of the unit cost at the community college level.

“When I went [to Pierce], it went from $5 to $11 per unit, and now it’s forty-something dollars per unit?” Sherman said. “That’s ridiculous, community college isn’t supposed to be like a Cal state school where you can’t afford it.”

Other than lowering costs of education, protesters also want the new funding from Proposition 30 to be properly allocated, including SOS member Bernard Hanamichi, who went on the trip to keep legislators accountable.

“We want funding to go specifically to the classrooms,” Hanamichi said. “[Pierce has] the physical space for more classes, but there are lots of students who have to crash courses.”

Sherman also took issue with a proposed 90-unit cap on students who wish to attend community colleges in Calif.

“I have 138 units. If I were to come back to Pierce to try to help myself get a job, I wouldn’t be able to,” Sherman said.

Many protesters held a similar view. Chants of “90-unit cap? That’s a bunch of crap” were frequent throughout the march.

Representatives from all three systems of higher education helped organize the event, including the president of the University of California Students Association, Raquel Morales.

“Our point was to stand in solidarity with one another as the three systems and to get the point across that we need more funding,” Morales said. “The students were really fired up. Hopefully the legislators got the message.

The theme of the event was summed up by the president of the Associated Student Council at the City College of San Francisco, Shanell Williams, who spoke at the rally.

“Higher education should be available to all, regardless of their economic means,” Williams said.

Afterwards, participants had a chance to speak with legislators, though the opportunities were not guaranteed without an appointment.

McKeever was pleased with the overall event and was happy to see the students’ passion, especially from the SOS members.

“They are a group of students that really, truly inspire me,” McKeever said.

Nick McNamara
Opinions Editor - Spring 2013 Program Director of KPCRadio.com - Fall 2013, Spring 2014 Managing Editor - Fall 2014

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