Appearance was a ‘teachable moment’ for students
Not everyone gets to star with the governor in a TV ad that is aired statewide.
But Rio Hondo College counselor Julius Thomas did, and, he had the additional satisfaction of knowing that the ad may have influenced voters to approve Proposition 30, a funding initiative designed to get California schools and colleges back on track.
Thomas was the only higher ed faculty in two separate ads promoting Prop. 30. Thomas said he didn’t realize at the time that the ads would be aired statewide with such frequency, but the experience was worthwhile. In fact, while waiting for his “close up,” Thomas spent some time with Jerry Brown himself.
“You can’t beat that. I got to talk to the governor. He’s really a personable guy,” Thomas said.
Thomas was also surprised by the attention the ads receive. Although he was razzed a bit by some old college basketball buddies who joked that they were tired of seeing his mug every time they turned on the TV, much of the comments were flattering. Many of his students were excited to tell him they saw the ads.
“It was fun, but even better is that I got to do something really positive in the campaign. It’s a great feeling,” he said.
Because of the passage of Proposition 30, Rio Hondo College alone will be spared an additional $4 million cut this year.
Thomas also acknowledged his TV appearance proved to be “a teachable moment” when students in his College and Career Orientation class talked about it. Thomas told the students to do the research and go to the websites and learn about the propositions, since they as students would be affected. He reported recently that every student who was eligible to vote in two of his classes, did so. For these students, many of whom are Latino, it was the first time they cast their votes.
“They were nervous about it, but I think they realize how important it is to get involved. They’ll remember this,” Thomas said.
Thomas was not alone in demonstrating the importance of voting to his students. He praised other campus efforts, including Latinos United to Vote, a group that worked with faculty helped register 800 students to vote.
“I think they understood that this was an important election and that it would affect them,” Thomas said. “More cuts to our college would have been devastating.”