Students stage downtown "Zombie" walk to support education
About 100 community college students, some outfitted as zombies seeking to prey on education, marched through downtown Los Angeles on Friday to highlight the danger of further state funding cuts.
The zombies in the seasonally themed march were meant to represent forces such as increased fees and class reductions that are preventing many students from graduating and transferring to four-year universities.
Gabby Quintana, who is in her third year at Los Angeles Valley College, said it has become almost impossible for students like herself to get the classes they need. The criminal justice major said she was only able to register for two classes this semester.
“The way things are going it may take another two years to transfer if not more,” said Quintana, 20, whose face was made up with red paint to resemble blood dripping onto her white T-shirt.
The students from about 14 local community colleges chanted “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho These Budget Cuts Have Got To Go,” as they marched along Spring Street from City Hall to the state building housing Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.
They held a rally there in support of Proposition 30, a November tax measure supported by Brown that would temporarily raise taxes on incomes of more than $250,000 and impose a quarter-cent hike in the state sales tax.
Some polls show the measure losing support, and it is opposed by some taxpayer groups who argue it would harm families and small businesses.
California’s community college system, the nation’s largest, has lost about $809 million in state funding since 2008. It faces another $338-million hit mid year if voters reject the tax measure.
The number of class sections decreased 24% from 522,727 in 2008-09 to 399,540 in 2011-12.
Courtney Perkins said the cuts prevented her from getting a math class she needs to transfer after failing to make the cut in several lotteries. "There’s no space in classes, and the delays are making it really difficult,” said Perkins, 22, a Valley College sociology major.
Pierce College student Ruben Garcia said his campus is already making plans to cut more classes and services should Prop. 30 fail.
“We’re down to the bone already and can’t afford any more,” said Garcia, 20, a sociology major who is also a member of student government. “I’m in my third year of what is supposed to be a two-year school. What worries me most is my sister, who’ll start college in a year and my younger brother. For the coming generation, it’s going to be really bad."
In a recent survey conducted by the chancellor’s office, nearly 67% of colleges reported that students have had to wait longer for financial aid, counseling and other appointments since 2009-10, with an average wait time of 12 days. About 470,000 students began the fall semester on waiting lists, unable to get the courses they needed.
Meanwhile, fees increased to $46 per semester unit from $36 last year.
Friday’s march was one of a number of events on college campuses scheduled ahead of the Nov. 6 election, including a rally next Tuesday at East Los Angeles College.
Herlim Li, an East L.A. College student who also attends Cal State L.A., said a month-long registration drive in the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College Disrict, succeeded in registering about 3,000 students to vote.