Associated Student Body Clubs and Events Board President Jeremy Diefenbacher was one of dozens of community college students from across the state marching in the midday sun in downtown Sacramento Monday.
“After $17,000, there should be a couple of Red Bulls,” he said. “I’m tired.”
The marchers were participating in the March in March, an annual protest event at the state capitol where students seek to speak out on issues that affect community college students.
The march is put on by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, an umbrella organization for student governments in California community colleges.
March to the Chancellor’s Office
Diefenbacher had just joined his fellow students in marching along sidewalks from the state capitol about five blocks to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office on the 1100 block of Q street and back.
“Whose street? Our street!” chanted the students amid cheers and the rhythmic beat of hand drums.
In front of the chancellor’s office, students addressed their grievances toward state higher education policies in the presence of Paul Feist, vice chancellor of communications for the California community college system, who came down from his office to hear the students.
Cameron Weaver, ASB Student Senate director of public relations, took the microphone.
“Less than 10 percent of the American population was going to an institute of higher learning before World War II,” said Weaver. “We live in a new world now, a new world where education is literally everything and if you expect the future of your country to run on a six-figure debt per person, per education, you’re not going to have a future.”
“This is our future, this is our battle, this is us telling them that if they want a nation that is going to be sustained we need to be able to be helped along the way. This is our time, this is March in March,” he added to thunderous applause.
Feist was also applauded when gave words of support to the student protesters.
“I just want to thank everybody for coming out here, for your enthusiasm and your passion,” said Feist. “The people in this building, in the chancellor’s office, advocate every day on behalf of students. When you people come from six hours away and we see your face it’s a very powerful message.”
Cost and student participation up from 2014
Meanwhile, Tamara Dunning, who is acting as ASB Student Senate president, was standing at a booth on the west steps of the capitol draped with a red banner bearing the logo of Student Senate and the words “American River College.”
“Somebody had to stay here to watch the things,” said Dunning.
The things Dunning was watching at the booth were shirts, canteens, and other paraphernalia bearing the ASB logo.
Senate passed a bill allowing up to $17,000 to be spent on the march, an increase from the $4,500 allocated last year. Much of that money was spent on free food and giveaways to entice students into attending.
Dunning said that 23 American River College students checked in with the ARC booth that they had showed up, an increase from the 10 who attended in 2014.
Dunning stated she hoped a lot of students would show up after Student Senate made such an exhaustive and controversial effort at outreach.
“We had a lot of interest based on the lead-up events,” said Dunning, referring to informational orientations at which free food was provided to students. “On Friday we had 71 people come. We’re averaging 100 to 200 people at the lead up events. It’s been fabulous.”
David Hylton, former ASB Student Senate director of activities, was opposed to what he saw as wasteful spending.
After cursing out a $5,000 increase in March in March spending last month that was ultimately ruled out of order, he said he had “no comment” when asked how many ARC students he expected to show up to Monday’s event.
Hylton, who is facing censure from Senate after being sent home from a conference in Los Angeles after a marijuana-related incident last year, spoke on his resignation last week.
“I resigned the director of activities position,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. Talking with (Dean of Student Development) Manuel (Perez), I decided I want to put my classes first.
“Extremely inefficient” planning from state organization
While in the past the annual March in March protest event generally commenced with a march down Capitol Avenue from the Tower Bridge to the west steps of the capitol, the SSCCC’s “extremely inefficient” planning made that impossible, according to Dunning.
“The SSCCC should have had this planned in November and December, putting the final touches on in January,” said Dunning. “It hindered our student government because we can’t plan or promote without knowing their times and schedule.”
Dunning said the fact that no ASB representatives has legislative appointments can be blamed on the SSCCC.
“When the info came from the SSCCC, they said they made our appointments,” she said. “Then last week they said we had to get our own appointments. We attempted to.”
Randall Sly, an ARC student who has attended multiple March in March events, said that American River College needs to take more of a leading role in participating in the protest.
“The problem is that American River doesn’t plan like we need to,” said Sly. “We need to be on that.”
Dan Massey, a new member of the ASB Student Senate, was just excited to be there as he watched students from around the state speak on the steps of the capitol.
“I came out to support March in March,” he said. “I think it’s going great. I’ve never been part of a movement before.”