By Lookout Staff
September 7, 2012 -- Santa Monica College officials could have prevented the pepper-spraying of student protesters at a board meeting in April that garnered national attention, according to "an internal police report" obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The aticle published Thursday in the Times says the report lays the blame on college administrators who could have provided more police and moved the contentious April 3 meeting to a larger venue.
A handful of the nearly 100 student protesters who could not be accommodated in the board room were pepper sprayed by campus police when they tried to burst into the meeting.
College officials Friday declined to comment on the story, saying they anticipate that the Review Panel will subit its report by the end of the year.
"The Review Panel is currently reviewing video, reports, participant and witness statements and is gathering additional information as questions arise," said Bruce Smith, SMC's spokesperson.
As a result of the protest, the college board voted to scrap the source of the students' ire: a proposed two-tier tuition system that officials said would have alleviated some of the school's budget problems.
The system would have offered some high-demand classes at cost -- $180 per unit -- instead of the usual $46 per unit.
Officials said that the at-cost classes would not have replaced the subsidized classes but that the plan would have allowed students who could afford to take the at-cost classes to do so in the summer, freeing up spaces in the subsidized classes for students who could not.
But, with state budget cuts to community colleges getting deeper and the failure of the two-tier system, SMC will not be able to offer its six-week winter session this year.
College officials have said that cutting the classes would save $2.5 million, less than a third of the nearly $8 million the school has lost due to state budget cuts during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
“It’s a difficult juggling act,” Girard told the Times. “But by concentrating on cuts in the winter, we won’t have to devastate our spring semester as much as we would otherwise.”
For more information about SMC's review panel, visit here.