GCC students, faculty and staff gathered in Plaza Vaquero Jan. 15 for a rally promoting Proposition 92. Hundreds of participants cheered and waved signs in support of the measure that will appear on the Feb. 5 ballot.
Prop. 92, the “Community College Governance, Funding Stabilization, and Student Fee Reduction Act,” aims to lower fees from $20 to $15 per unit beginning in the fall of 2008, give about 11 percent of state mandatory school funding to community colleges, and place limits on any future fee increases brought about by the legislature.
GCC President Audre Levy addressed the importance of community colleges within the academic system, stating how they educate 3.5 million students per year and are the “largest training mechanism” for the workforce. She added that 70 percent of all nurses come from community colleges.
“Prop. 92 will stabilize our funding,” said Levy. “That is critical.”
Levy then pointed to the failed promise of Prop. 98, a California measure passed in 1988 that set to allocate 11 percent of any money that came through education to community colleges.
“If the state gave us all the money we are owed under that particular proposition  community colleges would have another 4 billion dollars,” said Levy. “Because we’ve had to rely on Prop. 98, this has been the impetus for us to go out and advocate Prop. 92, which will give us the power to be able to say we want our share, and we are deserving of our share.”
Also championing the initiative were GCC students and faculty.
After the rally, Megan Ernst, a non-credit ESL teacher at GCC’s Garfield campus, told El Vaquero that many of her students “who are from other countries say that this kind of system [community colleges] doesn’t exist anywhere else. We are so fortunate to have this here in the U.S. and I think it’s very important to preserve that and move forward to make sure that we continue to get the funding we need.”
Chris Beltran, full-time theatre major, said, “The cost of units is sometimes really hard for students who don’t have the fee waiver, on top of what we already have to pay for books. I think community colleges are great for people who can’t afford to go straight to a four-year [college or university], or can’t transfer to a four-year. I think it should be made easy for the students so they can achieve their potential.”
Although the rally brought together supporters of the measure, there are others who are opposed to it.
Offering a different perspective was Hagop Mkroyan, a part-time chemistry major who attended the rally. Although he agrees that the five-dollar decrease in tuition is good, he said “not everyone knows what the proposition is going to do. If everyone knew the consequences of Prop. 92, you might find more people who are against it. . I’m trying to find out more about it by looking through this pamphlet.”
The website www.noprop92.org offers opposing viewpoints. David A. Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association, said even though they “strongly support community colleges and the very important role they play in educating California students . Proposition 92 is a flawed initiative that will cause more problems than it claims it would solve.”
“Prop. 92 drains $70 million a year from our public education system with no way to repay those resources and no guarantees that any additional funding will end up helping students,” said Sanchez.
Other speakers at the rally included Steve Ferguson, ASGCC member; Tony Tartaglia, GCC Board of Trustees member; Dina Fonseca, GCC Student; and Gordon Alexandre, GCC Faculty Guild President. They encouraged participants to vote for the initiative on the upcoming ballot.
“This is our shot,” said Alexandre. “If we don’t get this done on Feb. 5 we are sunk for a number of years.”
For more information visit www.prop92yes.com.