Students march to capitol, protest fee hikes

March 16, 2009 5:33:55 PM PDT
Hundreds of Bay Area community college students went to Sacramento -- some in bus caravans -- to join students around the state to protest budget cuts and proposed fee increases.

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Students, faculty and administrators from City College of San Francisco, San Jose City College and Evergreen Valley College boarded buses before dawn. They took their pickets and their passion to Sacramento to show lawmakers they're angry about budget cuts and proposed tuition increases.

"Some of us are full time students and work part time, so we really can't afford to pay more tuition," said Estrellita Munoz, from Evergreen Valley College.

De Anza College student Jake Parenz is afraid that lawmakers won't hear the student's message despite the big turnout at the capitol.

"Going to protests is nice, but you really have to lobby and spend the kind of energy prisons and businesses spend on that and we'll get the same kind of results that they do," said Parenz.

Cuts to the community college system could hurt more than the students. Community colleges are the state's largest provider of job training -- an important part of the state's economic engine.

For example City College of San Francisco has a nursing program, a stem cell program, and the college says it might also soon have a green-jobs program, which is exactly what 19-year-old Adrian Lopez wants to do.

"I'm looking in to innovative jobs. Something new, rather than what we have now," said Lopez.

Single mother Livah Sheppard is one year away from becoming a substance abuse counselor. She says a tuition increase would mean not finishing the program.

"Absolutely not. There's no way," said Sheppard, from City College of San Francisco.

In addition to the march and rally, some students also met with Sacramento lawmakers.

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