COA Rally against budget cuts video courtesy of Peralta TV's P-Span
Over 100 students, along with faculty and staff, staged a rally on the College of Alameda quad March 4 for momentum in the battle of budget cuts. Organizers hoped to get COA students to attend an evening rally in San Francisco and to participate in the March 22 demonstration at the State Capitol.
“We’ve been getting a lot of bad news lately; teachers and staff being laid off, friends and fellow students being turned away from the classroom,” COA student Jean Washburn said. “And there’s more bad news to come.” She added that students could not sit around and wait for things to get better.
|“I want to hear some good news now, but it’s not going to happen unless we make it happen. Together we can take back our education. Together we can take back our future and our dreams."|
Speaking after Washburn, COA Political Science professor Robert Brem said that students will be ignored if they do not stand up for education and democracy. He added that students could not just protest on campus and expect the media and legislators to take them seriously.
"The purpose of this protest is not to protest at COA,” Brem said. “The purpose is to get your ass to San Francisco tonight,” referring to evening rally at Civic Center where students from throughout the Bay Area later ascended.
“We are currently experiencing the evisceration of our educational system,” Brem said. “You are experiencing the creation of a third world nation. Democracy is built on education.”
COA Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) Coordinator Helene Maxwell said funding for her program was cut in half. She said that long-term action was needed to save education in California.
“We are currently experiencing the evisceration of our educational system."
“This is not a one day movement, it has to continue,” Maxwell said. She encouraged students to sign the petitions for the California Democracy Act (CDA), a proposition to change the state constitution to allow a simple majority to approve state budgets opposed to a 2/3 majority.
Jurena Storm, vice-president of administration for the Associated Students of College of Alameda (ASCOA) was pleased to see so many students “uniting for a cause that affects all of us.” Storm was recently a panelist in a discussion on Higher Education along with Two East Bay lawmakers and said that lawmakers were clueless to the impact of budget cuts on students’ educations.
“They had no idea about students sitting on the floors because there’s not enough chairs in the classrooms,” Storm said. “They had no idea about students dropping out because they can’t afford the tuition. They have no idea about students struggling because their parents have lost their jobs and can no longer afford for them to go to school.”
|"Nobody has told you, but they’re talking about raising tuition to $40 per unit. If you’re not registered to vote, nobody cares what you think. You want to get rid of legislators, vote.”|
Toni Cooke, coordinator of the campus’ EOPS program, encouraged students to “come together as a community” and not “stand back as bystanders.”
“Nobody has told you, but they’re talking about raising tuition to $40 per unit,” Cooke said, referring to the California Legislative Analyst Office’s (LAO) proposal to raise community college enrollment fees. “If you’re not registered to vote, nobody cares what you think. You want to get rid of legislators, vote.”
Following the speakers, poetry about education was read, and other students were able to come to the microphone and express how budget cuts affected them.
Washburn ended the event with a call-and-response chant, yelling “Who got the power?” to the crowds’ unscripted response, “We’ve got the power!”