Students starve for affordable education

CN/Kien Ha

By Amanda Mayberry

Recently, students from six CSU campuses have announced they are on  a hunger strike in protest of  budget cuts. The students are demanding that administrators freeze tuition for five years and instead make decreases to the pay raises for CSU chancellors and presidents. They say they will continue to starve themselves until these demands are met.

The persisting budget decreases and fee hikes made to community colleges and Cal States continue to make being a successful and progressive student increasingly difficult. As if the stress of being a student wasn’t enough on its own, the consequences which students now find themselves subjected to as a result of these cuts only adds more stress. Evidently, students are getting mad as these cuts are putting their futures in jeopardy.

This hunger strike is definitely one of the most extreme student reactions, but students are reacting, and have been. In protest of budget cuts, students from various CSUs and community colleges started their own “Occupy” protest, following in the footsteps of their mother movement Occupy. Even ELAC had their own encampment located at the front of the school in front of the would-be library.

Just last month a group of students from Santa Monica College were maced by police officers while protesting fee hikes. It is evident that this situation is getting out of hand, and it’s not the students’ fault. Budget cuts are spiraling out of control, and so are the students affected by them. Over the past three years the cumulative budget cuts made to LACCD have exceeded $100 million. This number will continue to grow as there appears to be no end in sight for the increasingly devastating cuts.

In a budget update released March 29, LACCD Chancellor Daniel J. LaVista said, “By any standard, the percentage decreases in our budget represent powerful barriers to our central mission of helping students have a better life through education.” Yet nothing is done to prevent or even help the situation.

As a result students are forced to take the matter into their own hands, and apparently they’ve been pushed to a breaking point, where they feel desperate enough to go on a hunger strike to get their message across. Who can blame them?

Higher education used to be a luxury only affordable to privileged white men. Rich white women were offered an education, but a limited one. Slaves, black and white, risked their lives for the sake of learning, and all they wanted to learn was to read. They were meant to be kept ignorant. Education was a privilege which they were not worthy of.

Now, as society has supposedly evolved into a more advanced and intelligent way of living, education is something which is allowed to everyone and anyone who cares enough to realize and seize the opportunity. However, with these obstacles which are increasingly difficult to overcome, it seems almost as if society is falling back in to an archaic mindset. Again they are deeming lower-class citizens unworthy of an education.

Apparently people have resumed risking their lives for their education. It won’t be long until education is only affordable to rich white men once again. At Santa Monica College, classes are already up to $50 a unit.

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