Two college students were injured after getting pepper sprayed while rallying at a Board of Trustees meeting at Santa Monica College.
The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees will hold an emergency public meeting at 10:30 a.m. Friday to discuss California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott's request that the college put on hold its plan to offer a new tier of higher-cost courses this summer.
Scott called Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang Wednesday to make the request after students were pepper sprayed by campus police at a Board of Trustees meeting the night prior while protesting the plan.
The incident is under investigation by campus officials.
Photo by Michele Markel Connors via Flickr Creative Commons
Santa Monica College.
Santa Monica College will continue with plans to implement a new tier of higher cost classes this summer despite a request from the California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott to put the program on hold after protesting students were pepper sprayed Tuesday night by campus police, said college spokesman Bruce Smith today.
Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang spoke with Scott on the phone Wednesday, the morning after students were pepper sprayed while interrupting a Board of Trustees meeting.
"Dr. Tsang was very appreciative of the call," Smith said. "They had a great conversation and the college is going to take that request under full consideration. As of this point, here is no change, we're moving ahead with the program."
The college plans to initially offer about 50 courses priced at $180 to $200 a unit this summer. That would be at least five times the current $36 per unit, which is a fee set by the Legislature. Fees will rise to $46 per unit this summer. The higher-fee classes will support themselves, university officials said.
Kayleigh Wade, a freshman at Santa Monica College, and her partner Aura Chavez were both pepper sprayed at a recent protest there.
Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said today that a Santa Monica College plan to offer a two-tier pricing plan for classes raises questions of fairness for the open enrollment system.
"The biggest issue right here is whether or not we are favoring those who have greater income over those who don’t," Scott said. "That's I think where it's problematic."
Scott has asked the state's Attorney general for an opinion on the legality of the program, which would provide additional self-funded courses to students. On Wednesday, Scott advised Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang to put the plan on hold the morning after dozens of students were pepper sprayed by campus police as they protested at a Board of Trustees meeting.
As of 10 a.m. the college had not made any decision to put the plan on hold, said spokesman Bruce Smith. In a recent interview, Tsang said the college believed its plans are legal. "We definitely want to work within the limits of the law," Tsang said.
Tami Abdollah / KPCC
California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott talks about the impact of the state's budget crisis on the nation's largest higher education system.
In a phone call the morning after Santa Monica College students were pepper sprayed by campus police, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott advised college President Chui L. Tsang to put on hold a plan to offer a tier of higher-cost classes this summer.
"[Tsang's] a good friend of mine and I have a lot of respect for him," Scott said in an interview today. "He is obviously trying to determine what the incident was. I did say that given the circumstances that perhaps it would be wise to put this program on hold until we would get a ruling on the legality of it. That’s only my advice. Chui Tsang answers directly to the Santa Monica elected Board of Trustees. He made it clear, and I understand."
Campus police used pepper spray on about 30 students Tuesday night as they interrupted a Board of Trustees meeting to protest a new plan to offer to start offering courses — priced at roughly five times the current $36 per unit fee at $180 to $200 a unit.
Screenshot of Santa Monica College student pepper sprayed outside of a Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.
Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang said Santa Monia College has launched a "full investigation" into the campus police's pepper spraying of about 100 students protesting a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, and that students who were injured will be reimbursed for medical bills by the college.
"Santa Monica College regrets that a group of people chose to disrupt a public meeting in an unlawful manner," Tsang said in a statement today. "The college has launched a full investigation into the matter."
According to Tsang, about 100 demonstrators interrupted the meeting at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night when they overran the door and personnel stationed at the door. Campus police then discharged pepper spray that affected students, college staff and other police personnel, Tsang said.