Students march, protest at Capitol
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 16:03
SACRAMENTO — Chanting and carrying homemade picket signs, thousands of students from up and down the state gathered in front of the Capitol Monday morning to show the numbers and strength of California community colleges.
Approximately 4,000 students from 80 of the state’s 112 community colleges, with the support of a small collection of students from California’s four-year universities, walked from Raley Field to the Capitol for this year’s March in March demonstration — a distance of 1.4 miles.
Roughly 40 students from Contra Costa College attended the march by bus sponsored by the United Faculty, Associated Student Union (ASU) Treasurer Ysarael Condori said.
Condori rode on the bus to the Capitol with students and fellow ASU senators.
Last year, community college and four-year university students came together at the steps of the state Capitol to protest cuts to higher education, to promote balance in California’s budget and endorse certain bills, including Proposition 30.
“Even with the passage of Proposition 30 we still need to keep pushing education,” San Jose City College Associated Student President Michael Casas said. “We’re only guaranteed to receive funding to education for the first year of the law. After that, the money will go into the state’s general fund.”
The passage of Proposition 30 in the Nov. 6 election offers California community colleges temporary relief from the state’s budget crisis, which led to roughly $21 million in cuts in the Contra Costa Community College District over the last four years.
The proposition gives the state’s community college system $196.7 million in increased funding for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and the district will receive approximately $3.5 million of that money.
The funds that are accumulated by Proposition 30, which raises California’s income tax rates for people who earn more than $250,000 annually, however, will go directly into the state’s general fund.
Only for 2012-13 were the funds guaranteed to fund K-14 election.
Students must continue to fight for education by forcing legislators to keep education at the utmost importance, Casas said.
“We’re marching to rebuild California’s education system,” City College of San Francisco Student Union President Shanel Williams said. “We may have had victories in the previous year, but we have plenty room to improve. It doesn’t stop here.”
The three official state student associations, collectively representing millions of students in California, came together again to continue their fight for higher education.
“In 2012 students were organized, advocated and won major victories — including Proposition 30 and a tuition freeze across UCs and CSUs,” UC Berkeley Student Association President Raquel Morales said.
“This year we cannot sit back and watch legislators in Sacramento squander those gains. We are mobilizing students again to continue fighting for increased funding to higher education.”
The demonstration also highlighted the preservation of Cal Grants and making education accessible to students in need.
“We must continue to advocate for the preservation of Cal Grants and reject attempts to reduce funding for students with the most need,” Student Senate for California Community Colleges President Rich Copenhagen said.
More than a half-billion dollars was cut by the state from community college budgets in 2011-12.
These cuts are in addition to student fee increases from $20 per unit in fall 2007 to $46 in summer 2012.
Some participants in the march, who attended the demonstration in previous years, were disappointed with the turnout of students.
They, however, expected less popularity due to the lack of an election coming in the fall.
“Last year around 10,000 students came out in support. It was amazing seeing that much attention called to education,” Los Angeles Southwest College student Jason Serrato said. “Since the passage of Proposition 30 and no election coming up people are pretty relaxed with the way things are, but this is how things go back to the way they were. We must keep advocating for education.”
Some students from CCC were inspired by the march.
Culinary arts student Porschia Nelson said the march informed her about information she wasn’t aware of.
“(The march) opened my eyes to the real crisis our education system is in. I had no idea that financial aid may see cuts,” Nelson said.
“We’ve got to tell the legislators in the Capitol that we care about our education,” Student Senate of California Community Colleges senator Daniel Clark said. “Only by advocating and protesting cuts can we once again claim our place as the golden state.”