March in March

Student protestors from schools all over California fought through the rain to come to Sacramento and make a united stand against those who want to impose budget cuts on their education.

Santa Monica College was one of the schools attending the protest with 150 students, Inter-Club Council and Associated Students members included.

The increased tax extension must go on the ballot for voting and pass or California community college students will have to pay $66 per unit. If the tax extension does pass, there will still be a fee hike to $36 per unit because of the $12.5 billion budget cuts.

Mike Tuitasi, SMC Vice President of Student Affairs, was one of the college's staff who came to support the students at the protest.

"Either way is a disaster for SMC, but passing the tax extensions is a better case scenario," said Tuitasi.

The SMC Board of Trustees has created guiding principles because of the budget cuts, which Tuitasi confirmed is SMC's budget plan.

One of the principles of their plan is to keep course offerings at SMC "that are responsive to student needs and consistent with the State priorities of transfer, career technical, and basic skills education."

SMC will not reduce or cut programs without carefully reviewing them, but there will be courses and programs cut because of the budget cuts. SMC will also pursue spreading cost reductions fairly.

SMC will attempt to lower costs over time with "energy saving retrofits, alternative energy sources, reduction or consolidation of facility usage, etc."

Another way for SMC to reach its budget target is to cut staff and existing jobs where possible. SMC will avoid layoffs of permanent employees, focusing on the freezing of salaries, furloughs, and decreases in salaries.  

David Stavis, the 20 year-old ICC Vice-Chair, was one of the dedicated leaders during the protest and his voice fired up protestors to chant and decry the budget cuts.

Stavis was angry with the budget cuts targeting higher education. He agreed that the tax extension must pass, otherwise SMC faces the hardest times imaginable.

"Even the best scenario is a nightmare," said Stavis during the bus ride to Sacramento.

Chantelle Eastman, Associated Students Vice President, was one of the leaders and voices along with Stavis during the protest and she spoke out against the budget cuts and the effect it has on SMC. She also agreed that the tax extension must pass in order to escape the $66 per unit fee.

Benny Blaydes, Lead Counselor and ICC Advisor, was also on one of the three buses filled with SMC students going to Sacramento to protest and voice their thoughts on the budget cuts targeting higher education.

Rosilynn Tilley, SMC Counselor, was on the same bus as Tuitasi and Stavis. Her dedication to support student protestors was self-evident and appreciated by all student protestors who were riding the same bus as Tilley.

It is still unclear as to what will happen with the tax extensions and budget cuts, since the Democrats and Republicans haven't come to terms yet. However, it is clear that whatever they decide on, California's higher education will pay the price.

Governor Brown wants to make a decision on the tax extension by the end of this week and SMC students can only watch and hope that the decision will place the tax extension on the ballot for the June election or else the $66 per unit nightmare will be a reality.