Students step out in protest of cuts

Ernesto Lopez

“We’re not going to take this sh** anymore. If you care about your future, we gotta unite. Together we’ll take over this mother-f***ing system.”

These words, shouted into a microphone by Karim Assaf, a member of Education for All, carried throughout the crowd gathered at Gorton Quad on March 31.

Minutes before, at 11:30 a.m., hundreds of students walked out of their classes to join Assaf, faculty, staff and other supporters. United, they showed their disapproval and anger at the recent announcement that thousands of classes will be cut next school year and that summer school could be cut completely.

City College Public Information Officer Heidi Bunkowske, who was at the protest, said cuts to education are a “frustrating experience because of state legislators’ misplaced priorities.”

She added that students need to understand that cutting classes is not the district’s decision; every action is in reaction to the budget allocated by the state.

“The college is with the students,” Bunkowske said. “We don’t want to cut classes. Administration is trying to do everything possible to hold on to as much as possible.”

Sociology professor Sarah Pitcher, also at the protest, said she was told by campus administration that the behavioral sciences program will be losing about 30 summer classes.

“Losing more than 2,000 classes is a lot, especially when we are at capacity now,” Pitcher continued. “We are not meeting the needs of our students, and to say that we are going to cut more classes means that this is going to further affect the most disenfranchised.”

“Education is social good,” Pitcher added. “For every dollar we put into education, three dollars comes back to the state, so decimating this, at this point, will further decimate our state revenue later on.”

French professor Philippe Patto said the foreign language department will be losing about 10 summer courses.
After the gathering at Gorton Quad, the students proceeded to march around campus shouting “stop the cuts” and “we want an education.”

“It’s the system that requires us to show proof of our education in order to get ahead, but we can’t get our degrees if we don’t have the classes available,” said Denise Gomez, a student in the walk-out.

“I am super upset about summer school,” Gomez explained. “The two or three classes I take during that time help me get ahead. This will put me back another year or so.”

Carroll said that cutting classes during summer session is cost effective to the district and the individual colleges because most classes offered are supplemental to what’s offered in fall and spring.

“Cutting is not a good thing, but the best place to do it is summer,” she said.

Bunkowske said that if the district is forced to severely cut classes, they will attempt to save the core classes that help students meet transfer requirements.

In order to create change, she is advising students to keep voicing their disappointment by putting pressure on legislators.
“Contact our legislators,” Bunkowske said. “Write them, fax them. Tell them your stories.

“It’s the momentum that counts. If they don’t see any of this come in at all, they will think you don’t care.”