S.W.A.T.'s all the fuss about?

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Santa Monica College students made their feelings known about recent cuts to the California education funding by airing their grievances in a public protest that took place across the main college campus.           


Orchestrated by the Student Worker Action Team (S.W.A.T.), a student organization actively opposed to further hikes in tuition costs, a small but vociferous band of protestors held aloft banners while calling out to students to rally against recent cuts to student services, rising tuition fees and cuts to the numbers of classes offered across Californian campuses.


"The reason that we're all here is to get an education," said George Gordillo, protest leader and political science student. "We're trying to better ourselves and promote higher learning. But I feel, and we feel, that we are not given the best opportunity or atmosphere to do so.


"Gordillo continued, "There should be more money spent on books, on hiring teachers and more classes should be opened up.  Hopefully we will spread like wildfire."


S.W.A.T., whose inception was in response to the 2009 decision by the UC Regents to approve a 32 percent hike in tuition fees, have been active throughout a number of University campuses. As the start of the new fall semester, and with it a more urgent call for students to crash classes, they have taken the opportunity to spread their message to disenfranchised students.


One of those was Maron Sanmartin, 19, and an electrical engineer major at SMC, who said, "I do have two classes, but that isn't enough to fill up my roster to go to UCLA."


Sanmartin's sentiments were echoed by fellow SMC student Angela Gelich. She said that, "we are students trying to organize other students and workers in SMC and throughout LA to demand that our public education isn't privatized and that we have a quality free education for all."


Not all who came in contact with the small group were in agreement. One of those was Anthony Ortiz, an SMC student who voiced loudly his opposition to the content of S.W.A.T.'s argument.


"The only I problem I have is that you guys are chanting ‘Education should be free,'" said Ortiz, "and I think it should not be free, but maybe should be cheaper.


"Ortiz continued, "Look, like I've had to crash courses, but if you say it should be free, I don't think so. Teachers need to be getting paid more and if we make going here free, then they will be getting paid, what, like thirty grand a year? That's just not enough."


S.W.A.T. will continue their efforts with another SMC protest scheduled in October.