Taking a stand for their education, students held signs high as they gathered at Plaza Vaquero on March 23 to make their voices heard.
The Associated Students of Glendale Community College held a rally in protest of the state budget cuts to community colleges. The California State Government is cutting its educational funding, which would increase the cost of tuition for most colleges and universities.
For students attending Glendale, this could mean an increase of the cost per unit.
“Classes are being cut back, we can’t add the classes we need, and it’s been recommended to increase tuition by adding an extra $14 per unit and we can’t afford that,” said ASGCC Administration Committee member Sose Khachikyan.
This event followed the “March in March” rally held March 22 in Sacramento, where nearly 3,000 students who attend community colleges and universities across the state rallied in front of the Sacramento Capitol building.
The rally in Sacramento was organized by the California State Student Association and Student Senate for California Community Colleges. Several ASGCC members traveled up north to represent this campus and participated in the march.
“It was a great way to be able to get our voices heard,” said ASGCC president Lilya Avagyan.
In preparing for the rally to commence on campus, ASGCC set up three booths, which served to benefit students.
The first booth was set up as more of an incentive for students who chose to participate in the rally. Bright red T-shirts with the slogan “SAVE EDUCATION” in big white letters printed on the front of it were given to students on a “first come first serve” basis.
Next to that booth, along the upper grassy side of Plaza Vaquero, students were given the chance to register to vote. With the help of an ASGCC member, individuals who had not yet registered were able to do so.
The election for Glendale’s district assemblyman is coming up on Tuesday, and the rally gave the perfect opportunity for those who needed to register to be able to vote on time. “Students should vote for who they would want to represent their views,” said Khachikyan.
Chahe Keuroghelian, Mike Gatto, Nayiri K. Nahabedian and Sunder Ramani are the four candidates running in this election. Voting for District 43 state assemblymember would help get students one step closer in the path of getting their opinions heard.
The third booth was set up for signing “letters to the representatives.” There were pre-written letters that students had the choice to read over and sign if they chose to. These letters will be sent to representatives in Sacramento in small batches to remind the senate that they need to support students and their right to receive a higher education.
About 70 red T-shirt-clad attendees were ready to start the march around campus. “Hey hey, ho ho, budget cuts have got to go!” was one chant yelled by students as they marched on over the footbridge, down to the parking lot and back to where the march started, Plaza Vaquero.
“I joined the march today because [tuition] was $20 per unit last year, rose up to $26 and now they wanna make it $40” said political science major Jim Niedziakowski, “How can we attend school if we can’t
History professor Gordon Alexandre and sociology professor Richard Kamei both urged students to stand up for what they think is right and shared their opinions and knowledge of the suggested budget cuts along with board of trustees member Anita Quinonez Gabrielian.
“We stand with you [our students] and we urge our state and federal policy makers, to hear your voices, and make the smart decision for our nation and our states future, education must remain a priority,” said Gabrielian.
President Dawn Lindsay was scheduled to speak at the rally, but because she was advocating on behalf of GCC in Washington D.C. along with president of the board of trustees, Vahe Peroomian, they were unable to join the rally.
President of ASGCC Lilya Avagyan shared a letter with students from Lindsay addressing the budget cuts, and stated that she is fully supportive of the students and their fight for their opinions to be heard.
With hope that the senate finds a better solution to the budget crisis, other than cut funding to California schools for higher education, a better solution for the budget crisis must be structured for the benefit of students across the state.