Rodriguez, BEAT and beyond

Ernesto Lopez and Ernesto Lopez

As he slowly peeled an orange, Jose Rodriguez, a City College student and one of three student founders of the Bring Education and Activism Together Club, said he doesn’t like being called a founder of BEAT because that would give him some sort of status he doesn’t feel he should have.

“I don’t like the title of founder, it gives some sort of status in the club and it may make new members feel less than I do,” Rodriguez added. “Someone else may have better ideas than I do. Credit will be given where credit is due, and if BEAT accomplishes so much there will be enough credit for everyone.”

Whether he likes the attention or not, Rodriguez has been on the campus spotlight throughout this school year. He led his club’s mentorship program with troubled youth, lead a documentary project on budget cuts and the Education not Incarceration event this spring and gave speeches at numerous local budget cut rallies.

Most recently, he gave a speech at the March for California’s Future rally in Sacramento where more than 5,000 students and faculty from across the state were in attendance.

“(Jose) is incredibly dedicated to BEAT, MECHA and the City College Campus. During the March for California’s Future, (he) was consistently making connections with people, creating networks and building coalitions,” BEAT Club adviser Larisa Dorman said. “It has become second nature for him and I think that really impacts his fellow students who see how willing he is to put himself out there for a good cause.”

Rodriguez said his passion for politics was stirred and BEAT was born when he took a political science class from Dorman.

“She definitely inspired me, she explained a different point of view in American politics and we wanted to do something in a different way,” he said. “We immediately wanted to change things we found disturbing in our society, such as political movements and ideologies.”

The activist student said he feels sad when our society doesn’t get involved into politics as much as other countries, like the Greeks.

“Real change only comes when people prompt change,” he said. “And I want change.”

Like most people when they hear themselves on the radio or on audio recording, Rodriguez said he doesn’t like to see video or hear audio of his speeches and presentations.

“Every time I look at myself on camera I think am such an idiot. I don’t like my voice, my posture, too much but I do it because I like it. I like the feeling of speaking in front of others. It sends this thrill, I can’t explain it.”

Professor Dorman said Rodriguez is a great speaker and works hard to have people understand his views.

“He does a great job of relating to people and that is evident in his speaking. He spends a lot of time working on what he says in order to make sure that everyone can understand his point of view and I think he has done a good job of appealing to all different types of people from all different backgrounds.”

Rodriguez said he hopes to get into politics in the future since his passion lies in culture, racism, classism and religion. He added that by having responsible individuals in position on powers is when real change is prompted.

“I am not saying I am responsible,” Rodriguez said. “But I care.”

As Rodriguez continued to eat his orange, a student in an electronic wheelchair who had been riding around the area screamed out his support and admiration for Rodriguez.

“You will make a great politician Jose, judging your personality I think you will make it,” the unidentified student said.”

Rodriguez, who doesn’t know if he will return to City College in the fall as he waits for admissions letters for local universities, said he knows BEAT Club will change but “as long as it keeps going in the direction of social good then more power to it.”