SACRAMENTO — Nearly 2,000 college and university students marched on the State Capitol to let legislators know that years of cuts have damaged their ability to complete their education and earn degrees. Some assembly members and senators were so happy to see them, they poured out of the capitol building to hoof alongside.
Students from community colleges, UC and CSU campuses gathered at the Ralley Field baseball stadium in Sacramento for the annual March in March to raise awareness problems higher education is facing with funding cuts. Southwestern College ASO officials Cyrill Maclan, Charlie Millar, Sherone Ross, Wilnor Jean, Kaila Thacker and Laura Del Castillo took part.
SWC students met Rich Copenhagen, president of Student Senate for California Community Colleges, as well as Assembly member Das Williams, Senator Marty Block and Lourdes Ayon Jimenez, an aide to Assembly member Ben Hueso.
As marchers moved toward the Capitol they chanted, “They say cut back, we say fight back!” and “Si se puede!” Many legislators, professors and business owners supported the student marchers.
“It’s great to be able to come and show how much we love our education,” said SWC student Charlie Millar.
Students addressed the 90-unit cap, the SB 241 oil severance tax and cutbacks to class sections.
“This march is a good thing that can bring change and fix things,” said Peter Costanza, 29, of Los Medanos College.
Senator Noreen Evans of the Santa Rosa/Eureka area authored SB 241, which calls for a 9.9 percent tax on big oil corporations. Evans said the legislation would generate $2 billion annually for higher education.
“I love the energy that the students brought to the capitol today,” she said. “If this bill passes, we will not have to see protests like this for a while.”
SWC ASO Senator Maclan said the march was effective.
“All the SWC students did a great job advocating for SWC,” she said. “The experience and answers we got will help our fellow students.”
Senator Block met with students from Southwestern, Grossmont and Cuyamaca in his office.
“It was helpful hearing personal stories of what students are actually going through,” he said. “Senators do not get to hear personal stories often and do not realize how much students are affected by all these problems.”