Imagine 2.5 million people. They were suffering taxation without representation, at least not elected representation. They had leaders, but no elected government to represent them all.
This scenario describes the thirteen american colonies before the revolutionary war. The american revolutionaries won their war. They won it with strong leaders and strong-often-unsung-followers. Yet still, they had no government worthy of the name.
The 2.5 million1 students of the California Community Colleges are in a similar situation. They suffer taxation without representation.
the "registration fees" they pay into the general fund are nothing but disguised taxes. The fees they pay go to the state general fund, where they are used to pay for prisons, roads, parks, and yes schools. They're a tax in everything but name. an education tax. A young people's tax. A tax on those who are struggling to earn the education that will allow them to support themselves and give back to their society. So yes, it is taxation, but what about representation?
The Students of the California Community Colleges have leaders. They have a voice on the Board of Governors. They have CalSACC, an advocacy organization comparable to our FACCC. What they lack is an elected voice in governance, a student senate.
Following the american Revolution, the former colonials were not yet a people. They became a people when their leaders came together to write the document that begins, "We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
Over the past five months, a gentle revolution has been taking place. Elected student leaders from around the state have been having their own constitutional convention. With the support of representatives from the System Office2, CCCSAA (California Community College Student Affairs Association) and the academic senate, they have been drafting a model for the student senate that will truly represent all the student governments a the 109 colleges in our system.
In february, the student representatives will present a proposed model to their constituent campus student organizations. The plan is to have the model refined and a constitution written for ratification by the colleges in may.
All involved look forward to a student senate that is a strong sister organization to the Academic Senate.
There are crucial parallels between our two organizations. First, the legislature and the Board of Governors have blessed them both as the official voices of the students and faculty of the community colleges. Second, the Student and Academic Senates also both grew out of local campus student and faculty governance. that is our strength. Both senates are designed to represent all 109 of California's community colleges.
You can help.
Please support these quiet revolutionaries by bringing your local student government president to the Spring Plenary Session of the Academic Senate.
The Academic Senate has created a reduced student rate ($75 for one day, $150 for the whole session). We'll be holding a special breakout for the students. throughout the session, they'll see first-hand how our organization works and the corresponding role the student senate will play at the state level.
1 true, enrollment is no longer 2.5 million, but to preserve the metaphor, we'll include the roughly 300,000 students who seem to have disappeared as a result of increased student fees.
2 the office formerly known as the chancellor's office.