Faculty and students heed the call to action
Whether it was the campaign to register student voters, or the campus discussions, phone-banking, precinct walking, rallies, member outreach and good old-fashioned one-on-one conversation, CCA made a substantial contribution to the successful effort to pass a tax increase and defeat a deceptive anti-union initiative.
“CCA’s first-time ever coordinated effort to register student voters and bring faculty into the campaign clearly played a part in the huge turnout of youth voters, including Latino, African-American and Asian-American students on our community college campuses,” said CCA Vice President Lynette Nyaggah. “Faculty conducted voter registration in their classes, held debates, assigned papers and had class discussions on education, all of which raised student awareness of the issues.”
Among the prime movers of the CCA plan were CCA Board Members Elizabeth Maloney and Michael Smith as well as San Bernardino Community College District CTA President Ed Gomez. Their accomplishments included the creation of the CCA campaign motto “Your Education, Your Money, Your Vote,” distribution of materials and the organization of innovative community events.
Campaign activities took place on CCA campuses throughout the state, including San Joaquin Delta, Imperial Valley College, Mt. San Antonio, Rio Hondo, College of the Canyons, Solano, Hartnell, College of the Siskiyous and Southwestern College.
Noting that Prop 30 had been polling in the high 40 percent range right before the election, Nyaggah said the support surged to 56.4 percent when California’s citizens, including students, actually voted.
“The coalition of CCA/CTA, the Labor Federations, the League of Women Voters, the important contribution of Voto Latino, La Familia Vota and student groups got this work done,” she said. “Even boards of trustees and administrators helped in the effort to pass Prop 30 and defeat Prop 32.”
For many students, like Marisha Sharon, a single mother attending Long Beach City College, the election was personal. In October, she explained why she thought it was important to march through the Belmont Shore neighborhood with some 100 faculty, students and community members.
“I was extremely lucky to get the classes I needed this semester, even though I was number 15 on a waiting list. Several of my classes are jam-packed, and many students had to stand or sit on the floor for the first few weeks,” she said. “I participated in the march because I am aware of the consequences that will take place if we don’t take action.”
CTA Long Beach City College President Lynn Shaw was relieved by the election outcome. Without the passage of Prop. 30, Long Beach City College was slated to turn away 1,300 students and eliminate entire programs. The day after the election Shaw was elated and thankful for CTA’s organizing effort.
“Yay!” Shaw exclaimed. “I was totally impressed with CTA and the work they did. What this means for Long Beach City College is more classes and more options for our students.”
Rewards were great
The rewards were great for the Southwestern College Education Association which elected two faculty-friendly trustees.
“I’d say we had about 250 shifts of phone banking and precinct walking,” said SCEA President Eric Maag.
The chapter also helped register some 1,000 students and forged a stronger relationship with the local labor council. With funding from CTA’s ABC political action committee, the chapter was able to reach thousands of local voters through mailers.
Faculty activists at Solano College in Fairfield were equally pleased with the election results, which for them also included the replacement of an incumbent trustee with one the faculty supported. The Solano College CCA chapter had provided a free barbecue lunch for students to encourage their participation and voter registration. In addition, faculty conducted phone banking and walked precincts.
“The telephone banking and precinct walking were key,” said Marc Pandone, chapter political action chair. “I hate doing both but know in my bones they are critical.”
Pandone also maintained that students were more engaged as a result of the voter registration effort and the Get Out The Vote effort.
The election also held surprises for Solano College CCA President Gene Thomas. He reported he had gone to bed on election night thinking that Prop. 30 was losing, only to awake to find it had passed. “California voters are generous,” he said. “They increased their taxes with Prop. 30 and then Solano voters passed a local bond issue to raise $348 million for college improvements. So the reputation of Californians as anti-tax, anti-tax, anti-tax wasn’t true at least for this election.”
Hartnell College students and faculty were paid a visit by Gov. Brown himself who was campaigning for Prop. 30.
“I think students were impressed,” said Ann Wright, president of the Hartnell College Faculty Association. “There was a lot of conversation about what cuts mean and what they can do about it. Then, the students made sure they were registered and they got out to vote. For many, it was a lesson in becoming an educated voter.”