Over 100 students interrupted the board of trustees meeting at Santa Monica College. They tried to push their way into a meeting room. The board was set to move forward to offer classes not subsidized by the state. Police standing outside pepper sprayed students as they tried to get into the room.
The meeting was stopped due to the student protestors, but continued a few hours later.
“I know some things happened tonight that I don’t like and a lot of you guys didn’t like,” Board of Trustees Chairwoman Margaret Quiñones-Perez told the students after resuming the meeting.
The students called for a campus-wide referendum to stop the two-tier funding plan. Due to severe state budget cuts, the school wants to resort to private funding in order to run 50 courses this summer that could be eliminated if they don’t.
Rallies across campus were held by angry students chanting, “No cuts, no fees, education should be free!”
Students argue that the proposal is “privatization” and believe it will separate the rich from the poor. They would like the Board of Trustees to advocate for the restoration of state funds instead.
Sasha Whitaker, 21, a student at Santa Monica College attended the protest, but he was able to avoid exposure to the pepper spray.
Whitaker felt compelled to protest against the proposal because “it’s not just me; my children will be affected” by the board’s decisions.
In the meantime, Santa Monica College officials said they are investigating the incident.