LBCC Students ”March In March” At the State Capitol for Education

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Students marching towards the Capitol Building in Sacramento on Monday. Photo by Jesus Hernandez.

On March 3, 11 Long Beach City College students and two advisors took off from the Liberal Arts Campus and headed to Sacramento to join thousands of community college and university students for the 5th annual March in March protest where concerned students from across the state march in solidarity for 1.5 miles from Raley Field to the Capitol Building.

Participating LBCC’s students arrived armed with information about their school’s recent budget cuts, which includes more than $8 million since the Spring 2012 semester and has required the Board of Trustees to make reductions in everything from advertising costs to administrative salary. In January, the Board voted for the official discontinuance of 11 programs, which will restructure and integrate most of them into still-existing ones.

The college was handed a slight break by voters last November, when the passage of Proposition 30 reduced the amount of necessary cuts from $9.8 million to only $5 million, providing what LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley said was a light at the end of the tunnel.  

“Last November the voters delivered a clear message… enough with the cuts,” said Jonathan Lightman, Executive Director of Faculty Associations of California’s Community Colleges, during the March in March rally on the Capitol steps Monday. Lightman was crucial to the success of the first March in March in 2009. 

In unison, protesters’ chants bellowed up the Capitol steps in front of the higher-educated mass and into the building filled with California lawmakers. 

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Students from LBCC wait outside of Aseemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal’s office at the Capitol.

“Since 2007, our three systems of higher education have cut billions of dollars. Today we are here to demand that our representatives make higher education a priority again,” Ian Ruddell, Student Trustee for the entire California State University system, told the crowd.

After the march, the LBCC students met with Mary Flores, a Legislative Aide to Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, who represents Long Beach and was formerly a Long Beach City Councilmember. Flores took diligent notes about the issues that were brought from Long Beach by the group of concerned student leaders.

“We asked for Assemblymember Lowenthal to write a letter in support of students at LBCC after being made aware of how the program discontinuance process we just went through did not involve any student input at all,” said Jason Troia, 32, LBCC student trustee. “It violated Title 5 of the California Education Code in at least 10 places. I would hope that she would accept the very reasonable request that we made [which is that] we would like for the Board to start the process over again, only this time allowing the adequate amount of student input in the process.”

Jesus Hernandez is the Co-Owner of 562citylife.com and Editor in Chief of the Viking News at LBCC.

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