While the Board of Trustees, the college executive management, the unions and the ASB claim to have the students’ interest at heart, all of them for different reasons cannot represent the students.
Yet, it is only students who can stop the demise of public education. LBCC students are caught in the middle.
Students must organize themselves independently to defend their rights for a free higher public education, because no one else will.
Trustee Doug Otto, on his re-election campaign website, said a Community College education was the civil rights issue of our time.
Otto is right. Like the struggles in past, whether it be equal rights for African-Americans, women or couples of the same gender, a mass movement will be required to force those in power to provide free higher education.
The trustees set policy. Their goal is not to represent the students. Even with the passage of Proposition 30, cuts will occur. The trustees will determine where the cuts occur, but will not stop them.
Executive management, meaning the president and vice presidents, implements the policy the trustees set. If cuts occur, management will implement them, but will not stop them.
The three unions, meaning the full-time and part-time teacher unions and the classified union, each have one primary task, to represent their respective employees at LBCC. While on many issues the interests of the students and the unions converge, they do not always.
For example, while both teacher unions and students understand that smaller classes are better, there is a point when the unions would oppose smaller class sizes, because it would mean cuts in pay, assuming total compensation remains unchanged.
While it is not intuitively obvious that the ASB cannot represent the students, this semester it has become more so. The ASB cannot even control its own budget.
It is dependent on management for its funding. But, the ASB has another problem, the ASB does not have the organizational capacity to build a mass organization of students.
While the possible cuts in the 19 programs would have been devastating to the college and the students, the proposed possible cuts have provoked student protests. However, the protests were limited to defending specific programs, but not all.
The protests need to be generalized to defend all the programs on the chopping block.
Student Trustee Jason Troia put it well at the Tuesday, Nov 13 meeting of the trustees, when he said the students need to avoid creating a situation where the interests of one student are put above the interests of the others.
The students themselves need to self-organize to fight for free higher public education.