Student groups rally potential voters
The campus of Santa Monica College was buzzing yesterday with talk of the November elections as students, volunteers, and administrators participated in National Voter Registration Day.
Much of the focus was centered on Proposition 30, a state ballot initiative that will raise taxes to pay for schools. If Prop 30 fails, SMC has predicted furloughs or layoffs for classified employees and the cutting of 500 course sections.
Associated Students President Parker Jean encouraged students in the quad on Tuesday to register and vote yes on Prop 30. Though younger people are often chided for political inactivity Jean called on SMC’s students to act. “Let’s be the generation that stands up and fights,” he said.
Multiple “Get Out the Vote” tables were set up by volunteers and community organizers to reach out to passing by students. Members of the League of Women’s Voters were alongside them handing out voter information and registration forms.
Administrative volunteer, Erika Leblanc, said her table had seen a mix of students. While some were registering for the first time, others were there to change their address, she said. “First time voters are really exciting,” said Leblanc.
The AS sponsored a Prop 30 information session, which was led by speaker Evan Hawkins, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges director of membership. Hawkins gave facts and figures that painted a picture of the struggling educational institutions of California. “The more deficit, the more higher level education is going to be on the chopping block,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins warned that colleges and universities built by and for Californians would not primarily serve the people of this state if Prop 30 does not pass. Instead, the universities will be forced to increase the number of out-of-state and international students because they bring higher tuition revenue, he said.
According to a report released by the Public Policy Institute of California in September, 52 percent of voters are currently planning on voting for Prop 30, and 72 percent of voters under age 35 plan to support it. “You’re going to be the difference,” said Hawkins.
In addition to advocating Prop 30, Hawkins asked students to vote against the competing proposition, Prop 38, because it does not allocate funding to community colleges. Instead, it goes to K-12 schools, early childhood education, and the paying down of state debt.
Both propositions call for an increase in taxes on California residents, but proponents say that the majority of California residents would benefit from the added funding to public services.
If both Prop 30 and Prop 38 are passed, the proposition receiving the most votes will be enacted.
Student Kimberly Hagey was able register as a California resident, and said that although she does not believe her vote will have an effect on the presidential election, she knows she will be affected by changes in education and feels it’s important to be politically aware.
Student Ken Lynch said he registered out of love for his country. “If I’m not exercising my freedoms, I’m not doing my duty,” said Lynch.
Registrations will continue until Oct. 26, and volunteers will help students with the process in the quad during school hours for the next few weeks. Registering voters need either their government-issued ID, or the last four digits of their Social Security number.