By Cristina Galvan
Motivated by the Occupy movements, East Los Angeles College students plan on protesting against budget cuts in what they call Occupy ELAC this Monday.
ELAC and other schools have experienced budget cuts throughout the past semesters, and tuition has increased. This semester, tuition has been raised to $36 per unit from the $26 per unit of last semester. It is expected to be raised even more. Besides paying for classes, students also have to buy books and other materials that are essential for learning.
Education and social services might see a $4 billion cut which will affect services offered to students. “We are fed up. We need change. We need Jerry Brown to prioritize our education,” said Angie Rincon, Feminist club president.
Rincon said this movement will allow students to get involved and protest for something that directly affects them. Since students are paying for their classes, it is encouraged that they do not walk-out or miss their classes to participate in Occupy ELAC, but that they instead fit it within their school schedule.
Student leaders from various clubs said students need to educate themselves about the issues and become aware of what they are protesting. The goal of Occupy ELAC is to “shine a light on the topic (tuition rates),” and that “You have to know why you are going to pay so much,” Rincon said.
Herlim Li, who is a member of Fighting Intensively for Resources in Education club, said that the protest is set to start-off at the free speech area located by the lunch truck followed with a march around the school. Protesters will carry a coffin filled with textbooks and school supplies. “This was our group’s idea as a creative way to symbolize the death of public education due to budget cuts and fee hikes,” Li said.
The march will end at the front steps of the school where the ELAC letters are located. Speakers will address attendees to start the first day of Occupy ELAC. “We are coming together as students, not clubs. Yeah, clubs are involved and are the way to attract people and inform students, but it’s not a feminist movement. It’s a student movement,” Rincon said.
Esperanza Ortega, president of ELAC Students for Political Awareness, is a mother of three-year-old twins. “I have a strong family that understands my passion for civil rights. The girls will be taken care of and there is actually a kid’s zone downtown at Occupy LA. So why not start one for Occupy ELAC?” Ortega said.
“I’m motivated in keeping higher education affordable and accessible because I feel community college is a special place, it’s a place of second chances,” Rincon said.
“Whether you are retraining for another career, sprucing up your resume because you’ve been laid off or just continuing your education because community college is more affordable. This is the one place that everyone in the community should be able to come and be able to better their lives,” Li said.
Interested students can attend a meeting on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. in room E3-114.