Unity for a common cause
The plans for the implementation of Contract Ed were in place long before the protests and pepper-spraying of April 3, but the violence of that night’s events awoke the consciousness of a lot of SMC students to the debate surrounding the form of the future of public higher education in California.
Which is exactly what everyone wants, right? If there’s one thing a college education is supposed to provide (besides plenty of partying and drinking adult beverages opportunities), it’s motivation by fellow students and professors to get involved with not only campus politics and issues but national and international politics and issues, especially ones involving students and young people. In all five classes I currently I’m taking, the professors have taken time out of class to talk about contract education which all evolved into student lead discussions that have taken at the very least 30 minutes out of at least one day. Now I must profess that I’m a humanities student, and everybody knows that people who teach humanities courses are all lefty commie pinkos, but I know that same discussion was going on all across the campus in all departments between students and professors whether they be liberal, conservative, or a-political.
This great awakening of student consciousness manifested itself into the protests and demand for the public Board of Trustees meeting, which demonstrated to the Board and the administration that students were now united and committed to further action and participation in the school’s governance.
Then cracks started to form. At the Board of Trustees meeting, many students and professors spoke out against the Contract Ed plan, but many others voiced their support for it. Some students even questioned the events and intentions of the Student Organizing Committee on the night of the protests of April 3. Towards the end of meeting, a small shouting match erupted between student supporters and protesters of Contract Ed over what took place at the April 3 protests.
Since the meeting, and the following schisms and new elections of the Associated Students the student body, unity has almost all but dissipated, and that’s a shame.
Multiple letters to the editor and opinion pieces have been published in The Corsair voicing opposition to the Student Organizing Committee and calling for students to take a clear-eyed look at the benefits of Contract Ed and to ignore the supposed misinformation coming from protesters and the Student Organizing Committee. One story urged students to just work and strive harder to achieve their educational goals and accept that Contract Ed is here to say.
None of these articles seem to say what I think was the most important lessons learned from the protests: the power of a united student body. Whether you agree or disagree with the Student Organizing Committee or Contract Ed you can’t say that the protests didn’t show the Board of Trustees that before they implemented a drastic change at SMC they’d have to get the students approval.
What I’m saying is simply that the student body needs to be organized to democratically discuss what the student body wants the future of SMC to look like, with the professors on our side to make the administration and Board of Trustees sit up and take notice of the wants and demands of the students they oversee. This in no way means we should all rally around the Student Organizing Committee or The Associated Students, or we should all rally around anti- or pro-Contract Ed organizations; it simply means that we, as students, should take the future of public education into our own hands, with help from our professors and hopefully our administrators in a united effort to preserve public education in California for not just our generation, but future generations as well.