SMC supporters links hands

Students, faculty, and friends of Santa Monica College were invited to come together and lock hands on Sunday, Apr. 17 for Hands Across California, a statewide fundraising event for California's community college campuses.  However, turnout results varied widely throughout California, amounting to a wide disparity in raised funds.

The event, organized by the Foundation for California Community Colleges, occurred at 2 p.m. and brought out approximately 60 supporters for SMC. Some of the supporters included Mayor Richard Bloom, and Board of Trustees member Louise Jaffe.

"It was a small but spirited group," said Jaffe. "It was nice to have the mayor out there, along with Mitra Moassessi (Faculty Association President) and Nancy Greenstein (Member of Board of Trustees)."

Barbara Ige, an Alumni Coordinator at SMC, led the effort to organize the event with student life on campus. "The match by the Osher Foundation was fantastic," she said, referring to the Bernard Osher Foundation's pledge to match all donations by 50 percent.

Despite the event being considered by some a relative success, some considered the overall gathering to be paltry and insufficient.  Making matters more complicated, the HAC website has been periodically inoperative, making it difficult for supporters to make direct donations to SMC. "To be honest, I was surprised," said an organizer who requested to be quoted anonymously. "There were a lot more people than I expected." Speaking of the FCCC: "They didn't give us a lot of lead time, or any instructions on how to approach this.

"I literally spent hours trying to make this happen. I was really frustrated by the final result," they said.

As of Apr. 19, $32,638 has been raised towards benefiting the California community college system, with $736 raised to directly benefit SMC.          

Jill Scofield, Director of Public Relations for the FCCC, explained that the event was planned on a tight schedule which prevented the FCCC from being able to allocate a date which best served the entire California community college system.  "The idea wasn't even discussed until last fall, so we tried to do it on a relatively short time frame," said Scofield. "We thought the turnout overall was a powerful message that we hope will continue to reverberate."

Supporter turnouts varied greatly campus to campus. According to Sarah Goding, a Staff Writer from The Breeze, 100-150 supporters assembled outside of Chafey College. Codey Shore, Editor-in-Chief of Santa Barbara City College's The Channels, counted 47 supporters. Figures provided by Ige tally 300-400 people who came out to support El Camino City College, and over 1,000 supporters for Victor Valley College.

"I would say it has to do with how students feel they'll be effected," said Alex Emslie, Editor-in-Chief of San Francisco City College's The Guardsman. "The majority of the students who came out to support this event were ESL students, because they feel concerned that the budget cuts could directly effect their courses."

"The fact that people were willing to come out on a Sunday is promising," said Reid Milburn, Campus and Community Relations Director for the FCCC and former Student Senate President of SMC. "Doing this on such short notice probably didn't help us, but hopefully this will be the start of more activities."

"Although only 30-40 people attended the event at SMC, I wouldn't say it was a washout. We were small in number but strong in spirit," said Lyndon Stambler, a Professor of Journalism at SMC. "We were only lacking in reinforcements. You would think that with more than 30,000 students at SMC and hundreds of faculty members that more people would have come out, especially during these lean budget times.

Supporters can donate to Hands Across California by visiting or by texting HANDS to 27722.