Picture of Harrison Wills, student body president of Santa Monica College
On April 6, Santa Monica College trustees voted to cancel this summer’s pilot two-tiered fee plan after student protesters were pepper-sprayed at an earlier board meeting on April 3, 2012. The two-tiered plan would have had the public college compete with for-profit colleges by setting up a misguided pay-for-play system or an “access hierarchy”. The victory by non-violent student protesters was met with a flurry of negative media reports that depicted the students as violent protesters. In fact, it was once again the police who instigated violence as they have on campuses throughout the US.
Not only did the students stop the proposed two tier system, but they also garnished support from the California attorney general’s office. The California attorney general’s office has stated that the Santa Monica Junior College two-tier course pricing proposal is illegal. The state Community College chancellor’s office says the attorney general’s office agrees that requiring students to pay the full cost of classes isn’t allowed under the California Education Code.
The Santa Monica Daily Press (http://bit.ly/IyehtB ) went even further, saying the college could be exposed to legal action if officials decide to go ahead with a two-tier fee plan in the future.
Santa Monica College spokesman Bruce Smith says in an email that the college doesn’t have a comment because it hasn’t received a written opinion from the attorney general’s office (http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20120418%2FA_NEWS%2F120419864).
The victory at Santa Monica Junior College should serve as a hopeful sign that students will not give up their human right to an education and instead will fight like hell to assure that education remains a human right, not a commodity to be bought and sold for non-dischargeable student loans. It should also lay bare the insidious autocratic coordinating class that is helping to shepherd public education into the arms of privatization.
In the following YouTube, Harrison Wills from the Association Students of Santa Monica College interviews legendary human rights activist, Dolores Huerta about the student protests of April 3, 2012. Huerta supports the Santa Monica JC students’ movement and opposes the two tier system for class costs that the coin operated politicians and supplicants are trying to create. Dolores worked with Cesar Chavez to cofound the united farm workers. She also received the United States presidential Eleanor Roosevelt award for human rights. You can see the YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHZd-7jCa4c&context=C47f7397ADvjVQa1PpcFNCb71pMU_MP1ZQPVmU7CriiXdgAeNPe2s%3D
Harrison will be on the Project Censored show at 8:00 AM, Friday April 20, 2012 on KPFA, 94.1 FM to discuss the controversy at Santa Monica Junior College and student organizing campaigns