Be heard and vote!

The Santa Monica College Associated Students launched a voter registration rally to get students to vote in this upcoming, crucial November election. The first 100 students who registered to vote got free pizza. Now that’s the way to get students to take interest in voting; give them free pizza. Riling up students to vote is one way to go against the challenges of informing students about the important elections that will determine whether we have to reduce classes, pay even more higher fees, and lay off more teachers and classified workers at SMC. But, students need to be educated with information as to why they need to vote and what the pros and cons are when deciding who and what to vote for during the elections.

The infamous Proposition 30 is on California’s statewide election ballot. If passed, the state will increase taxes on earners who make over $250,000 for seven years and increase the sales tax by 25 percent which would increase revenue an estimated $6 billion per year, according to California’s Legislative Analysts’ Office. These new tax revenues will be used to fund schools and help balance the budget.

But, if voters reject Prop 30, then there would be a reduction in spending, and K-12 schools and community colleges would lose over 5.3 million dollars per year, UC’s 250 million, CSU’s 250 million per year, according to the LAO report.

“If Prop 30 fails, then close to 500 classes will be dropped from the SMC schedule,” said Mohammed Rahman, director of outreach for the AS. Getting students educated and registered is the first step to preventing those terrible slashes. In the first week of fall semester, Rahman said that the AS “did a ‘Welcome Week’ and registered two hundred students [to vote].”

Santa Monica College’s Academic Senate, Faculty Association, Classified Employees and Associated Students will have events over the next few months with the goal to get as many students to vote.

The rally in the SMC quad this Tuesday was hosted by Evan Hawkins, Membership Director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, who came from Sacramento to make his presentation to SMC students. There was student poetry, gift cards and of course pizza for students to enjoy.

During his presentation, Hawkins said that “in the last four years, $1 billion was cut from education.” SMC’s budget will be cut $7 million annually, and that “this is our fight. Our parents pay the state for us to go to college and we have to fight to make sure we are funded.”

In response to the budget cuts, SMC already cancelled winter session and reduced Friday and evening classes. If Prop 30 fails to pass in November, many classes for Spring 2012-13 are likely to be cut, teachers’ hours reduced and classified worker laid-off.

“The best way to talk to students is through their teachers,” said Rahman. “We’re sending emails to ask teachers to take a minute out of class time to tell students to vote.”

Michelle Alvarez, SMC BOT student trustee, is placing voter registration applications in teachers’ mailboxes in an effort to get everyone to vote. The League of Women’s Voters has a table set up to show their support. “It’s a combined effort,” said Olivarez.

This Thursday, The Black Collegians will be holding a “Rock The Vote” event to motivate more students to vote and bring more attention to the importance of voting  in this upcoming election. It is important that more and more events such as this are hosted in hopes that more students will come out and vote.

SMC student, Sylvia Villegas said that “the rally to get out the vote is having a positive effect because it informs students about the issues we’re facing.” Students should really get out and vote in the state and national election because this November election will impact their lives almost immediately and into the future.

The SMC BOT have two budgets prepared; one if Prop 30 passes and the other if Prop 30 fails to pass, which would be disasterous.  As a result of new technology, different tastes, or global competition—which reduces demand for certain skills and increases demand for other skills—students need to be educated for the new jobs that have developed in this new age. In order to accomplish that, schools need to be funded enough money to support more classes and programs that will help students with their educational goals.

Allan Dagalea, SMC student and first-time registered voter said, “it makes a difference when you vote,” and that all students need to get out and vote.