Students protest Laney College cuts

December 15, 2009 11:32:58 PM PST
It is not just the California State University system proposing major fee increases for students, community colleges across California are raising their tuitions as well. On Tuesday night, students in the East Bay protested plans by the Peralta Community College District to increase tuition by nearly a third -- a hike that affects 30,000 students.

The community college students are fired up over the proposal to increase tuition by $6 per unit, followed by $13 million in cuts to staff, classes, and services.

"I know how it is for people who are trying to get help and can't afford their books. It's tough. It makes getting an education even harder," said Leonard Hutton, a Laney College student.

Hutton spent two years in prison and, like many of the community college students who work and have families, he says the services are vital. The computer science major is staring his future right in the face.

"If it wasn't for EOPS, I wouldn't be able to afford my books. I wouldn't be able to go to school and try and change my life and provide something for my son that I wouldn't otherwise be able to provide," said Hutton. When asked what he would be doing if he weren't in college, he replied, "I'd be doing some things that aren't acceptable."

Tuesday night, the board of trustees pulled their vote to approve the final budget off the agenda, saying they want the public to understand it better before they vote on it.

"Quite frankly, Peralta has cut fewer classes percent-wise than any of our peers throughout the state," said Bill Withrow, the Peralta Community College District board president.

"When working people are struggling to get by, if administrators take an inch they're going to end up taking a mile," said Alessandro Tinonga, a Laney College student.

The board angered the crowd after it postponed the vote until January 12, when most students will still be on holiday break.

After that, one student reminded the trustees of the student occupation of campus buildings across the state, which sounded a lot like a warning.


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