“It’s pretty inspiring,” said Dewar Arefin, a first-year science student. “A lot of my friends are pissed off like this.”
Many students wore red shirts, with a white cross symbol at its center and the words, “Save Education.” About 60 students rallied, while others like Arefin and Chloe Pittman were passing by the campus quad.
“Tuition’s been raised and that sucks,” said Pittman, a third-year biology student. “What are you going to do? You can’t drop school.”
Tuition fees are set by the California Community College system, which raised the cost of classes this year by $6 to $26. The state’s community college system is the largest higher education system in the nation, with 112 campuses.
Board of Trustees member Anita Quinonez Gabrielian addressed the rally and reminded students that community colleges are institutions where teachers, firefighters and other critical professionals are trained.
“I just think that we live in an economy with emerging technology and we’re facing global competition, so a continued focus on higher education is a good choice,” she said later in an interview.
The rally continued with a march around the campus grounds, with students chanting, “No more cuts.”
Some students had met with elected officials in Sacramento on Monday as part of a rally that drew thousands of students and faculty to the capitol steps.
“We have letters prepared and students are signing them and agreeing with them,” said Lilya Avagyan, the student trustee and student body president. “Hopefully, that will change a lot.”
College faculty spoke and singled out Proposition 13, which capped property taxes in 1978.
They also said legislators should look for new revenues rather than close a $20-billion state budget deficit by cuts alone.
History professor Gordon Alexandre said that meant raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians, rather than raising community college tuition from $26 to $40, which is being considered in Sacramento.
“It is wrong; it is anti-democratic,” he told the crowd.
“And it’s going to hurt you and those who are struggling.”