Occupying our own futures

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 America has become a wasteland for opportunity and the American Dream is collecting dust on a shelf in a nostalgic museum.  Former members of the middle class have slipped back into poverty and home owners are being thrown out on the streets by ruthless banks. Our nation has become a land of oligarchs, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a chosen few. Many of the largest corporations pay no taxes whatsoever. How could they afford to? They pay CEOs upwards of $30 million a year while the people who are doing the real work are lucky to bring home $30,000.

California has become a national laughing stock with its hemorrhaging deficits, poor services and decaying education system. Proposition 13 has come home to roost and the selfish voters who supported this generational cash grab should be ashamed of themselves. Their greed has destroyed the Golden State and may yet destroy what was once the world’s best education system.

Three Southwestern College professors are calling on students to assert themselves and push for change. They are sending out an S.O.S. with a grassroots organization called “Support Our Students.”

S.O.S. fits because students are in trouble.

Soaring fees, textbook prices, transportation and housing costs combined with fewer and lower-paying jobs have created a perfect storm for California students – particularly working class scholars from this community. Our universities are shutting their doors on students from this community and in so many ways, Southwestern has too. Sure you can register for school, but good luck getting into classes.

Professors Phil Saenz, Alejandro Orozco and Victor Chavez are targeting book prices first. They are calling for a book exchange among students to save money. They are also urging professors not to use the new editions, especially if they are churned with few updates.

S.O.S also is calling for an oil extraction tax on energy companies. A tax of 15 percent extraction fee per barrel would create billions of dollars in new revenue from a capricious industry that has soaked Americans for generations. (Americans and our leaders seem to forget that this nation’s natural resources belong to all of us.)

An action of this magnitude requires signatures and a ballot initiative. It is time we start to use the ballot box and our democratic rights to force some change upon the folks who have forced so many egregious economic hardships down our throats.

As voters and taxpayer we need to tell the folks on Capitol Hill that they work for us, not big banks, corporations and Wall Street. People that remain silent are victimized and taken advantage of. Voting is our strongest voice, yet as the youth of this nation, we are the silent majority. Silent and compliant.

We support Professors Chavez, Orozco and Saenz, and call upon the ASO to take a leadership role advocating for students’ rights, access to public higher education and the return of education as a priority in California.

Southwestern College students, perhaps more than any other, ought to have some faith in ourselves as agents of change. Students played a key role in deposing the corrupt and incompetent Chopra/Alioto regime. Students showed their resolve by speaking truth to power when they cut half of this institution’s classes. Eventually the tyrants crumbled and we were free. It happened during the American Revolution and again during the SWC Revolution last year.

As Bob Dylan sang in 1963 “Your old road is rapidly aging/Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand, because the times they are a changing’”

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