A controversial plan by Santa Monica College to charge more for some popular courses is illegal, California’s Attorney General says.
California’s Attorney General says a plan by Santa Monica College to charge more for some popular courses is illegal.
Earlier this month, Santa Monica College Board members decided to charge students several times the normal price for some high-demand classes taught over the summer, setting up a two-tier system.
The original idea was to relieve overcrowding, but it set off a violent clash on campus, with some students getting pepper-sprayed.
After that incident, the trustees dropped the plan for the summer. But by then, the state’s Community College Chancellor, who also opposes the plan, had asked the Attorney General’s Office for a ruling on its legality. Their conclusion:
"The education code doesn’t allow for this two-tiered system," says Paul Feist, vice president of communications for the chancellor’s office. "Employers who want to contract with the community college who want to provide instruction to workers or potential workers and the employers pays the cost of that instruction."
What began as a trustees’ meeting at Santa Monica College became a melee Tuesday night. Before it was over, student protesters were screaming, writhing on the floor and pouring milk over their faces to counter the effects of pepper spray. They'd tried to express their opposition to what they consider an unfair tuition pricing plan.
Marioly Gomez, a freshman at Santa Monica College, was one of the students pepper-sprayed. She described the way she felt on what she calls one of the worst nights of her life.
"It was so strong my face was burning," Gomez said. "I got hosed down by the firefighters. ... Actually with the hose of a firefighter. I got completely hosed down. The water was freezing and there was still that burning sensation on my face, and my chest was hurting so bad that I got some oxygen. But the pain was so severe that I got transported to the UCLA Medical Center emergency room."