By Megan Perry
Californians united as community colleges including East Los Angeles College held Hands Across California to raise awareness concerning recent and future budget cuts on April 17.
Hands Across California was an event that stemmed from Hands Across America, which occurred 20 years ago, and was supposed to be the largest fundraising event in higher education’s history to raise awareness and funds for California Community College students. The line on Avenida Cesar Chavez stretched from Collegian Avenue and Schoolside Avenue with approximately 450 to 500 students, faculty, politicians, friends, stars and family cheering for ELAC and other community colleges.
Some students held signs that asked for people to text “Hands” to 27722 to donate $10, which later turned into a chant. Throughout the stretched line, supporters did the wave to attract attention and to have fun. The ages of attendees at this event ranged from five to 65-years-old.
Jorge Hildalgo, a team representative, organizer and member of the ELAC Students for Political Awareness, said this event was already in progress, and he wanted ELAC to become involved.
Hidalgo heard about the event through the Associated Student Union and said he “jumped on it.” Students and supporters made their message clear that they were frustrated about the budget cuts.
Hildalgo said he was “angry about the budget cuts, but since we’re educated we are not going to riot. We are going to demonstrate peacefully; not through violence, but through intelligence.”
He felt this was most important for high-school students entering college since they do not have priority registration. ELAC President Ernest Moreno said, “Any effort is noble and we have been successful.” The event was supposed to make a statement that community college students are tired of the budget being toyed with.
“A lot of kids can’t come to school because they can’t afford it,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villairagosa, an ELAC alumnus, who later texted to donate $10. “Without an education, we just won’t make it.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu said that the cuts will be the “largest cuts in history,” and that everyone needs to “ fight harder, and fight smarter. Let’s fight for our future.”
The whole point of Hands Across California was to show that com¬munity college students know how to argue their opinion without violence.
The people being affected directly by the current budget cuts are the students trying to attain a higher education. Elans said they should not have to be the ones suffering for a bad economy when they will be the future economy. They came to school on a Sunday to support Hands Across California.
“We are the future,” said Ashley Jauregui. “Instead of just focusing on the present, we should focus on the future along with the present,” said Jauregui. The students seem to be suffering the most from California’s decisions.
Hassan Medina, the Commissioner of Theater Arts and Speech, felt the turnout was not what he had expected, but it was very successful.
ELAC Deputy Garcia said, “This is definitely a step in the right direction.” Cadet Adrian Talamantes said, “This was a good event. The economy is going down, and the community is coming together to support.”
Before the hand-holding, a small award ceremony was held for the 14 winners of the lifelong Osher Scholarship from ELAC, and this was followed by speeches from supporters. The money raised at the event, from selling t-shirts and raffle tickets, went toward the Osher Scholarship.