Representatives from the Associated Students of Glendale Community College (ASGCC) traveled to Sacramento to demonstrate in the March 4 March for higher education on March 14.
There were 20,000 people at the march. These students, faculty and even concerned citizens joined together from campuses all over the state. They all marched together across the State Capitol to protect California schools.
The members of the ASGCC that attended the rally were Janet Shamilian, Pedro Kim, Ani Tatintsyan, Anahit Grigoryan, Suzy Sargsyan, Tryra Quinones, Hayarripi Nersisyan, and Nerses Aposhian.
The dedicated team representing GCC met at the school at 3:30 a.m., then flew to Sacramento and gathered at the state capitol. These students are doing what they can to put a stop to the dramatic budget cuts that are affecting the higher education programs of California.
“We’re doing everything in our power to defend our school,” ASGCC President, Janet Shamilian said.
The event was an important opportunity for students to stand up for what they believe. They came together and rallied, protested and even talked to legislators about how the budget cuts are affecting their lives.
March 4 March was a crucial event for all 2.9 million students in California colleges. The ASGCC went to this event understanding that the month of March is an essential time in the state’s budget cycle. Many decisions still must be made, signatures are still needed and ballots are still pending. Basically, the budget is still being negotiated. The Gov. is attempting to get a measure on the June ballot to extend taxes that will benefit the schools in California.
California is known for having the largest higher education system in the world. The state also prides itself in being the most affordable system of higher education in the United States, according to Nanette Asimov of the Article Collections of Sacramento. These qualities were exactly what the protesters at March 4 March were fighting to keep.
Everyone in California is feeling the consequences of the $26.2 billion budget gap. In order to help close the loose ends, Gov. Jerry Brown is being forced to cut $1.4 billion from higher education programs.
If this is successful, students may face the loss of their winter and summer sessions.
They may lose out on the opportunity to join any sports teams. The demand for classes will increase. The chances of getting the classes needed to transfer or graduate will become even more difficult that they already are.
In order to stop this from happening, a series of events must first take place. First, two Republicans from the state senate and two votes from the Republican member of the state of California must vote in favor of putting the tax extensions on the June Ballot.
Shamilian, who is also a student member of the Board of Trustees, said that members of the student government landed in Sacramento with a plan. At last year’s March 4 March she saw that the majority of students and protestors spent their time outside of the capitol, chanting and marching.
This year ASGCC decided to spend their time talking directly with the Republican legislators, trying to convince them to vote in favor of putting the tax extensions on the June ballot.
Before they faced them, they launched a letter writing campaign. They set up a booth when they arrived at the capitol. They asked everyone at the rally to write a letter explaining how the budget cuts have been affecting them personally.
“The stack was huge as well as heavy, and the project was difficult but it was worth it. We surprised everyone,” Shamilian said.
At the end of the campaign they had a total of 500 letters. The ASGCC members made 30 copies of each letter and sorted them according to zip codes. Once completed, they handed over the large stack of letters to the legislator of the zip code they worked for. This way the legislators were personally confronted with students from their own district.
“We just want the tax extensions on the ballot. We just want the choice to vote for what we are after,” Nerses Aposhian, representative at large for ASGCC, said.
If this is successful then the residents of California will have an opportunity to vote on tax extensions that the ASGCC supports. The extensions will release some of the pressure from the budget cuts on the school systems.
In the end, after all of this is accomplished everything will lay in the hands of California residents.
After the rally the students began to realize that they were not getting any direct answers. When they left the march, nine Republicans were still undecided. They did not leave discouraged, but with hope.
“It was a great experience to go to the capitol and be able to speak with the legislators. It gave us an opportunity to see their point of view and reasoning for why they are doing what they are doing,” Aposhian said.