Student Government Portests Education Budget Cuts

Allan Beglarian

In a historic coalition representing more than 3.2 million California college students, shouting slogans such as “Don’t Slam the Door,” and “The Whole State is Watching,” Glendale students joined the April 21 protest rally at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles under the banner of Students for California’s Future.

The event comprised a united front of three student associations, California Community Colleges (CCC), California State Student Association (CSSA) and University of California Student Association (UCSA). The coalition was organized to turn public opinion against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $1 billion cuts in higher education.

“I remember 1992, that was the beginning of our California recession, we couldn’t get into classes,” said Fabiola Torres, an instructor of ethnic studies on campus. “I was in community college during this time and it took me four years to finish while my parents paid most of the costs of my school, transportation and living expenses. Part-time instructors lost their jobs, programs were completely cut and financial aid was destroyed,” she said.

When asked what she hoped to accomplish by participating in the protest, Torres said, “I’m here to empower the students, to enable them to see that they have a voice, to help our government understand that they can’t be relying on students to pay for a deficit, which they [students] are probably not responsible for.”

Community colleges provide affordable higher education for all Californians, and the coalition has determined that it requires the combined strength and participation of students, parents, politicians and business to create a well-educated public for the future of California.

This is why the three associations have united in a common cause to be marked with calls to legislatures and followed by more marches and rallies.

“No student should be silent in the face of $5.3 billion in cuts to education,” said Dina Cervantes, the CSSA board chair, “the proposed budget should increase investment in education from preschool to PhD, not the opposite.”

The coalition, Students for California’s Future, asks every Californian, whether a student, parent or those directly involved in Californian’s future to join in reclaiming the promise of California’s future.

“Our generation has yet to see another issue with the power to single-handedly affect multitudes of Californians the way these budget cuts could,” said Louise Hendrickson, UCSA board president. “Now is the time to put aside differences, come together and ensure a better, brighter future for all.”