SMC – Campus police used pepper spray on a group of Santa Monica College students Tuesday evening who were staging a protest in opposition to a controversial plan to offer classes at cost to those students willing to pay full price.
Dozens of students tried to gain access to a Board of Trustees meeting called to discuss the plan and began shouting and disrupting the meeting, creating a situation that was deemed unsafe, said Bruce Smith, college spokesman.
At least two students were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Smith said.
No arrests were made. The incident is under investigation, Smith said.
An estimated 200 students participated in the demonstration. Earlier in the day students held a press conference in front of the SMC Library on the Main Campus to demand a vote on the two-tier system to see if it is acceptable to those impacted (see: “<a href=”http://www.www.smdp.com/Articles-local-news-c-2012-04-03-73782.113116-SMC-students-demand-vote-on-highcost-class-offerings.html”>SMC students demand vote on high-cost class offerings.</a>”)
The classes would be offered during the summer session, and would cost approximately $180 per unit, almost four times the $46 per unit cost set for state-funded classes beginning this summer. Only a year ago, classes cost $26 per unit.
College officials came up with the self-funded options as a way for students to get the classes they need to graduate or transfer sooner instead of having to wait because those classes are full. State budget cuts have forced community colleges to slash the number of classes offered.
The higher cost puts the classes out of the reach of working class and low-income students, critics argue. Students demanded administrators take pay cuts to help restore class offerings.
More to follow as information becomes available.