Rise in tuition ignites campus protest

Lauren J. Mapp, Editor-in-Chief

San Diego Mesa College’s Mesa B.E.A.T. club – Bringing Education and Activism Together – held a walkout rally and protest on March 1 in response to the most recent rounds of educational budget cuts throughout the state of California.

March 1, the National Day of Action for Education Rights, was the inspiration for budget cut protests across the state of California, including the Mesa College rally that was organized by the Mesa B.E.A.T. club. This new campus club strives to make students more aware of what affects them as students, California state residents and U.S. citizens.

“We also bring issues that concern the student body, try to get people aware of what’s going on and try to make the students aware that they can step up and make changes and voice their opinions,” club member and sociology major Ana Ruiz, 23, said.

Approximately 100 protesters met at the rose garden in front of the Learning Resource Center at noon and marched their way through campus, around the G building and back to the garden to host speakers. The speakers included members of the Mesa B.E.A.T. club, Mesa College students and teachers, all sharing their stories of how the budget cuts have affected them.

“Right now I’m only taking about two classes and it’s a total of like nine units, and with this increase it doesn’t seem like much, but it starts to add up. I can’t come to school full-time because I can’t afford it,” wildlife conservation major Vidal Ochoa, 21, said.

Some protesters, including behavioral science Assistant Chair Dr. Evan Adelson, blamed the statewide campus woes on the economic system as a whole.

“Somehow, the economic health of the country has nothing to do with the economic health of the people in the country. I don’t know how this makes sense. They think that you should work for the economic system. The economic system is supposed to work for you,” Adelson said.

English professor Wendy Smith spoke about how the “no floor” or “gatekeeper” classes create a system that she feels discriminates against minority students. There are four levels of basic English classes that some students need to take before being eligible for the transfer-level 101 class, and the success rate is approximately 23 out of 100.

“Something is wrong with the system and who it excludes through the gatekeeper method. Basic skills are a border fence,” Smith said.

In terms of how to solve the state budget issues, protesters are recommending that registered voters sign the petition to get the Millionaires Tax on the ballots this November.
If enacted, this measure would increase taxes by 3 percent for California residents who earn more than a million dollars a year and by 5 percent for those who make more than two million. The revenue generated through this tax initiative would be used to increase California’s education budget.

“The idea that we don’t have money to pay for education is f***ing bull s***. We have money; it’s just in the wrong hands,” sociology major John Reid, 24, said in regards to the proposed measure.