Youth group protests budget cuts at Santa Rosa Junior College as school year begins

  • A sign made by the organization Strike! protesting budget cuts to education hangs on the William B. Race Health Sciences building above a group of dental hygiene students at Santa Rosa Junior College on Monday, August 22, 2011.

Members of a youth organization called Strike! displayed three large banners protesting budget cuts at Santa Rosa Junior College on Monday, the first day of the fall semester.

"WTF! Where's The Funding?" was emblazoned on the banner attached to the second-floor railing in front of the Frank P. Doyle Library at 11:45 a.m. as hundreds of students walked through and milled in the area.

"I like it," said Mara McLeester of Santa Rosa, who said she's been working toward a nursing degree for six years and had trouble enrolling in prerequisite classes, such as math and chemistry, because of the cuts.

Steven Ballard of Cotati, a student since 2008, snapped a photo of the banner. "They're not giving us any money to learn," he said. "Education is being shortchanged — by a lot."

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said Monday that finances for the system of 2.76 million students may worsen in December with an additional $30 million funding cut and another boost to student fees.

Jay Scherf of Santa Rosa, a sophomore, said the youth group, largely consisting of SRJC students, was formed six months ago.

The group considers educational spending cuts as "part of the larger historical attack by the super-wealthy corporate class on the rights and services of the working class," according to a written statement.

A banner hung from the Health Sciences Building said: "Budget Cuts Are Class War." A third banner was displayed on the parking garage along Mendocino Avenue.

Scherf said he was expecting the banners to be removed within minutes, but there had been immediate response by officials.

Strike! is planning a teach-in on budget cuts and organizing during the week of Sept. 11-18 at a venue near the campus, he said.

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