We support Measure V because believe in the broad idea of education and in SMC’s specific execution of its mission.

Measure V provides $345,000,000 in bond money to fix or build facilities on campus. We can support both the method and the use of that money.

Schools have other funding options but bonds are a common method that have been successful in the past. A bond oversight committee will be established to track the funding and the measure calls for annual audits. The level of bond financing being asked for is on par with the levels of financing provided to other regional community colleges by their communities.

SMC has stated the money will be used for repair and new construction, both of which are necessary to maintain the quality of service. While the college has undergone significant revisions in the past there are still students in dilapidated portables and sections of the school look more like set pieces for a 1970’s TV show than a modern school.

Opponents of Measure V rely on a set of connected arguments: the school has enough money, it shouldn’t have so many out of district students and the campus is a bad neighbor to nearby residents.

The first argument is based on the number of bonds previously issued. Yes, there have been several previous bonds for millions of dollars. That money has been put to work building current projects but it hasn’t covered everything that needs to be done on campus.

It’s the second argument is the most troubling and in our minds, least valid.

SMC has excellent programs and that attract out of district (including international students). For some voters that’s a problem because they believe it negatively impacts the lives of nearby residents and that it is unfair to ask locals to pay for services provided to out of towners.

The fairness argument is easy to refute.

SMC draws about 10 percent of its operating budget from the district. The rest is provided by regional/state taxes and student fees. Compare that to the 13 percent of their degree seeking students who are Santa Monica/Malibu residents.

Bond money isn’t the same as operating expenses but there are other indicators that SMC provides a huge benefit to local students.

There are about 2,000 district residents who take non-credit courses. More than 50 percent of Samohi grads take classes at SMC within four years of graduation. Based on figures from the State, SMC has one of, if not the highest, rate of local participation in California and those locals will receive direct benefits from the projects Measure V will fund.

Measure V will improve the quality of education for local students but it also supports broader goals of increasing equity and fighting poverty.

If the logic is that community colleges should only cater to the local students, the corollary is that students should be limited to attending the school closest to their home. The end of that process is segregation based on geography and it would be immensely harmful to our society.

If SMC were reduced to a locals-only enrollment, its program offerings would shrink and that would absolutely hurt local students who currently have access to significant resources.

However, the greater harm is to the larger community that like it or not, we are a part of.

Education is the strongest tool available to fight inequity. Education is a primary factor in securing better paying jobs for low-income families and breaking cycles of poverty. However, educational opportunities are not equally available. It’s unconscionable to limit the resources provided to students from less affluent areas and while voices of xenophobia and nativism are increasing in Santa Monica the truth is we’re not an island, we’re part of a regional metropolis. The services provided at SMC, including the newly available four-year degrees, are among Santa Monica’s most significant contributions to regional equity.

Does that mean that residents adjacent to the college have their quality of life reduced? Yes. There’s no way around that and it’s perhaps the most valid criticism of Measure V. If you live in the nearby neighborhood, your life is fundamentally impacted by the college. Construction, traffic and noise are all very real concerns. We can absolutely understand why those individuals prioritize their immediate existence over more abstract arguments about equality.

However, as harsh as it can be, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Individuals near the freeway are also impacted but that doesn’t mean we should oppose the state highway system.

Santa Monica College is not, and should not be, a parochial resource. We think Measure V will continue to provide educational opportunities for thousands of students and support a Yes vote.