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Students protest proposed community college fee hikes

March 19, 2004|By Michael J. Arvizu

Glendale Community College students joined more than 8,000 others from community colleges across the state of California on March 15 in a mass rally on the capitol steps to protest proposed fee hikes at the schools.

Students, faculty and parents began to convene at the capitol steps around 9 a.m. It didn't take long for standing room to become prime real estate, as a sea of students began making its way slowly to the beat of drums from nearby Raley Field around 10 a.m. The march up the capitol mall took about 30 minutes, and by that time cheers, hollers and people on megaphones could be heard. One man even marched up the capitol mall in what could be described as his best effort to reenact the Passion of Christ, complete with crown of thorns and cross made out of plywood symbolic, he said, of students having to carry their own cross and bear suffering in the form of having to pay a proposed $26 per unit for classes.

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A tuition hike introduced in the middle of last year brought fees at community colleges up to $18 per unit.

"Keep the Doors Open" was the theme of this year's rally, which drew community college students from as far north as Eureka and as far south as San Diego.

Joining the throngs of students at the capitol were 180 additional "students," fiberglass sculptures standing roughly 5 feet high-two for each college, male and female-which were decorated by students. Dubbed the "Missing Student Project," the statues represented the students missing from California's community colleges because they were not able to register for classes or afford higher fees. Each statue was painted and decorated by its respective college in whatever way the artist or artists saw fit. GCC's statues were decorated by Agneta Hurst, Won Jang Lee, Keiko Nimura, Rose Tharp and Cheri Uno.

"The design of the Glendale Community College 'Missing Student' sculptures communicate sadness, mourning, loss, dejection, fragmentation and 'you could be the next student, faculty or staff cut,'" reads a description on the Keep the Doors Open Web site. "Hundreds of typical GCC names humanize the loss of students, faculty and staff."

Indeed, the shells of the statues are covered with names from head to toe in a sort of memorial to the students who were not able to get into a classroom and staff who were laid off.

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