More than a dozen Long Beach City College students protested outside the Liberal Arts Campus Tuesday afternoon amid shouts of “stop privatization.”
The group was protesting Assembly Bill 955, a controversial new bill introduced in February by Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara).
If passed, the bill would initiate a pilot program for six community colleges, including LBCC, that would allow community colleges to offer more classes during summer and winter intersession but at an increased unit price.
“I feel like this bill is breaking every promise of community college,” LBCC Student Trustee Andrea Donado said. “This is creating a discriminatory gap between the students who can pay $250 per unit and the students who cannot pay $250 per unit.”
The pilot program would give community colleges the authority to establish and maintain an extension program during summer and winter intersession, which would offer additional high-demand classes at non-resident tuition prices, according to the bill’s text.
The current cost of in-state, or resident, tuition is $46 per unit, while non-resident tuition runs at $276.
LBCC Spokesman Mark Taylor said that the college is sponsoring AB 955 to restore access to classes that students have lost since the recession.
“Right now, if students can’t get access to the courses they need in time to graduate in spring [or] to transfer, they have to wait a whole year,” Taylor said. “Most of our students transfer to the [Cal State University], and most CSUs are only [accepting] transfers at one time of the year. So if you’re even one course short, you miss an entire year of that transfer process.”
Students chanted, “Say no to AB 955” and yelled through megaphones at the passing cars and nearby students, encouraging them to take part in the demonstration and share their opinions on the issue.
“It’s unfair basically because it creates a two-tiered system where education is not going to be as attainable for those who are less privileged,” LBCC student Steve Garibay said.
Non-student members of the community like Stella Ursua also participated in the demonstration, saying that it was important to come out and show solidarity with the students.
“We’ve all gone to city college or community college, and we expect that education is going to be available to us — quality education at an affordable price,” Ursua said. “This is just nuts. Who can afford this?”
AB 955 is currently awaiting vote in the Senate.