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California students march on the Capitol protesting higher education costs

Josh Slowiczek & Nick Valenzuela

Josh Slowiczek & Nick Valenzuela

Students from across California march across the Tower Bridge towards the Capitol to rally for education on March 04

Mary Garcia

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A sea of students, educators and supporters stormed the steps of the California State Capitol Monday to make their voices heard at the annual March in March event.

Frustrated with tuition costs, class availability and legislative actions, Cosumnes River College students and members of the Associated Students of Cosumnes River College joined supporters from across California to march from Raley Field to the Capitol.

“Even if a lot of the people at the Capitol were not listening it really brought together students from different walks of life to really focus on the single cause, which is funding for education,” said D.J Mitchell, the Director of Legislative Affairs for the ASCRC.

The increasingly vocal crowd marched across the Tower Bridge, down Capitol Street shouting slogans like, “student’s united, we’ll never be divided,” “when they say cutback, we say fight back” and “2-4-6-8, budget cuts are what we hate,” over the jumbled sounds of air horns, police sirens and drums shots.

The energy only increased when the parade of students reached the steps of the Capitol. Speeches by fellow students, faculty and legislators riled up the crowd of sign waving students as they passionately cheered for higher education reform in California.

Devin Murphy, a University of California, Los Angeles Associated Student Body member, urged the collective student body to cooperate and fight for their education.

“We’re done with people pitting people against each other,” Murphy said. “We’re fighting today as a unified front, we’re fighting to ensure that the services that we need are provided to us because we need them.”

Murphy wasn’t the only speaker calling listeners to actions.

Sen. Noreen Evans was the only legislator that spoke at the march, calling upon the government to “fill in with additional funds,” before introducing Senate Bill 241, better known as the Oil Severance Tax Law. The bill would require separate taxation for oil companies which Evans said would generate almost $2 million for higher education.

The warmest reception was arguably given to University of California, Santa Barbara ASB President Sophia Armen, who impassioned listeners with her words at the podium.

“Knowledge is not only a commodity,” Armen said in front of scores of onlookers. “Knowledge is for the betterment of our community.”

Armen also spoke about possible issues college students will face in the future, namely the possibility of debilitating debt.

“This is about priorities,” Armen said. “This is about me and you graduating with debt as
shackles.”

College debt is a reality for students at California colleges. According to the College Institute for Access and Success, 51 percent of California college graduates take on student debt with the average loan totaling $18,879.

The event concluded on a lighter note with more chanting and cheering. Sabrina Garcia, a 25-year-old business major, was just one of the multitudes of students who were sent home inspired by the speakers.

“A lot of students came from Northern California and Southern California and we all just walked together and came together, and we were all bonded by this moment,” Garcia said. “I think that ideal of being part of a whole is what was memorable for me.”

Much like Garcia, Jasmine Phillips, a 23-year-old radiology major, said she appreciated being able to experience the march with the rest of the students.

“It was fun, it was a different experience,” Phillips said. “I think we made a huge impact even though we didn’t have a lot of people from our school.”

Although the bus did have more than a few empty seats upon return to CRC, ASCRC Advisor and Campus Life Coordinator Dr. Winnie LaNier was content with the student response.

“I think the turnout was good this year,” LaNier said. “A lot of times students have classes and it’s hard for them to get released.”

The ASCRC expects a bigger student response next year. A response that Garcia feels lawmakers will have to pay attention to.

“I think that [the government] will see by numbers,” Garcia said. “That the more and more consistent this rally becomes, the more and more it’s hard to ignore.

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California students march on the Capitol protesting higher education costs