Several other students and I organized a student walkout on Monday, Nov. 28.
This was a planned action. This was a conscious decision. This was not a day to stay home and sit on the couch. This was a response to the opening of the special session on Capitol Hill which has proposed severe budget cuts aimed specifically at our education. The proposed cuts would result in larger classes.
This is a problem because as the number of students in a class grows, the ability for teachers to cater to and communicate with each individual student lessens. Larger classes also mean fewer overall classes; so registration just became that much more difficult.
Fewer programs would be offered under the new budget cuts. Running Start would no longer be free, or it may even be terminated all together.
Services for exchange and international students, including those for students just learning English, are vulnerable.
Tuition will rise. These fewer, more crowded classes of lesser quality will cost you more money. Financial aid will suffer. Qualifications for receiving financial aid are going to become stricter, and the amount of people able to receive assistance will diminish.
Teachers’ jobs are threatened. They are liable to be laid off en masse around the entire state.
These budget cuts will take jobs away from our teachers, creating a circular effect again increasing class’s sizes and workloads for those lucky enough to remain employed.
Education for everyone is essential to any democratic society, and lately that belief has been kept at an arm’s length for most of us. Education has become a privilege for the few, no longer the right of all.
This unfortunate, yet designed consequence of our current system is no longer tolerable. We walked out, in solidarity with the Occupiers all over the world, in a physical demonstration of the strength of the people and our ability, as students, to stand up for ourselves and our education.
On Nov. 28 we walked out of our classrooms in order to better defend our classrooms, and our fellow students and teachers whom also depend upon them.
We marched to restore the precedent of participation in our own lives.
Since 2008, higher education funding has been slashed by $680 million. Since 1982, tuition has risen 439 percent across the United States according to Michael Baker of SunBreak.
Elected officials defend their all-cuts budget balancing act as necessary in a time of reduced revenues and the broader economic downturn.
They have failed, over the same period, to eliminate even one corporate tax break that would have created revenue and offset massive cuts to education spending and the dismantling of the social safety net that so many rely on.
A group of South Puget Sound Community College students have organized the walkout for Nov. 28 to give a voice to the students that are frustrated by the constant bombardment of rising fees, textbook prices and tuition hikes.
By taking part in the walkout with faculty and students from across the state, we will tell law makers that the attack on higher education is over. We will demand that legislators prioritize human needs over corporate privilege and begin closing tax loopholes before shifting more costs to working families.
During the special session, starting Nov. 28, law makers are going to try and hammer out budget cuts that could see our tuition rise by 15 percent next year and classes eliminated with possible program cuts.
That means that we’ll be paying more for classes if we are lucky enough to register in time to get the few classes that are offered.
Higher education needs to be affordable to all, and available to all.
At the rate this state is heading and the nation as a whole, higher education will be available for the folks who have insurmountable student loans and the wealthy people of this country.
There are key moments when we are called to show up, when we can rely on anyone else to represent our interests. This is one of those moments.
Practicing our free speech is our right and our duty.
Our student senate has every right to endorse and promote the student walkout to give a real voice to those of us who are frustrated by the system that empowered huge corporations to not pay any taxes while we at the 99 percent pick up the tab.
This is the first opportunity that SPSCC has encouraged the student body to voice their frustration.