Student Organizing Committee meets in preparation of May 1 protests

About 30 students gathered at a Student Organizing Committee general assembly Tuesday morning to plan the upcoming May 1 protests against Santa Monica College’s controversial  “Advance Your Dreams” contract education program. It is the continuation of the movement organized by the SOC that led to 30 students being pepper-sprayed by campus police before a Board of Trustees meeting April 3.

The fallout prompted the Board to cancel the self-funded Contract Ed program for the summer, but critics vowed to continue demonstrating and protesting until the measure is scrapped permanently.

Protest ideas presented at Tuesday’s meeting ranged from campus wide walkouts to allying with unions and marching downtown.

Vocal member Mikhail Pronilover proposed a campus “camp out” starting the night of Monday April 30, a proposal the group approved.

The SOC stated that it plans to rally and picket on campus beginning Tuesday at 7 a.m.  They will then join with the Occupy movement’s “May Day” protest, a country wide strike that aims to, “shut down commerce worldwide and show the 1 percent we will not be taken for granted,” according to their website.

“We need to be building alliances with Occupy downtown,” Student Trustee Joshua Scuteri said at the assembly. “They’re extremely helpful to our cause.”

Pronilover said that the group will then return to SMC and once again demonstrate at the Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for that evening.

Constitutional Law Professor Lenoard Isenstein, who also blogs for public radio station KPFK, attended the meeting to offer his support but ruffled feathers when he asked to film the meeting for his website.

Isenstein said, “The leadership of this group attempted to censor this,” he said and SOC’s Pronilover responded that his comments were, “way out of order.” The SOC nevertheless allowed him to film, and later apologized, stating that it wasn’t their intent to censor the blogger.

Isenstiein was still not happy. “They’re trying to make decisions without doing their homework,” he continued. “They’re ignorant. The SOC doesn’t know the history of this school.”

Outgoing Associated Students President Harrison Wills also appeared and spoke at the meeting. “We need to educate everyone about how the corporate mainstream media is trying to distort our cause,” he said. He was joined by Parker Jean, a candidate for AS President running on the “Paradigm Shift” slate, whom Wills endorsed Tuesday.

The meeting lumbered through proposals for more than an hour, somewhat hindered by what critics described as the group’s lack of official structure.

When an attending member asked about creating “some organization” for the SOC, Pronilover deflected. “That is irrelevant to my proposal. You can make a separate proposal.”

Members leading the discussion then apologized for the “kinks” in Tuesday’s meeting adding that “democracy isn’t easy.”

“It’s messy,” Scuteri said. “But I know we have been effective in postponing [Contract Ed]. It’s only a failure if we don’t continue the struggle to try and stop it.”

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