Pepper Spraying of Students Won't Stop Santa Monica College's Two-Tier Class Pricing | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Pepper Spraying of Students Won't Stop Santa Monica College's Two-Tier Class Pricing

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Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 3:53 PM

click to enlarge An SMC student washes up after the pepper-spray incident. - DAVID STEINMAN FOR CONGRESS 2012
  • David Steinman for Congress 2012
  • An SMC student washes up after the pepper-spray incident.
Updated at the bottom: Maybe it will. First posted at 3:55 p.m. Thursday.

Despite a pepper-spray incident that made national headlines, Santa Monica College is sticking to its plans to implement a two-tier pricing system that would nearly quadruple the costs for popular courses.

A protest against the college's board of trustees, which was considering the measure in a meeting closed to only a dozen or so students, ended with campus cops dousing demonstrators with pepper spray, sending three to the hospital.

SMC spokesman Bruce Smith told the Weekly:

As of this point we are planning to move ahead with the program.

The program is this: Uber-popular courses, of which there is already a shortage as a result of state budget cuts, would see per-unit prices quadruple from an upcoming $40-plus for regular classes to $180 to $200 for the ones in demand.

College officials have argued that this could reduce demand and keep the class populations under control.

But students, seemingly part of a wave of education-cost-related demonstrations that hit other state campuses over the last year, chanted angrily outside the board meeting Tuesday.

Reports indicated that some were trying to push their way into the meeting, leading to the pepper-spray response that is under investigation.

Following the incident, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said that SMC should abandon the two-tiered pricing idea, at least for now.

Smith said that's not going to happen, but that "we're going to take the request from the chancellor under full consideration."

[Update at 3:53 p.m. Friday]: The college's board of trustees today voted unanimously to halt the fee structure at least through summer.

SMC spokesman Bruce Smith told the Weekly:

I can't say how long it will be delayed, but definitely summer has been canceled.

A Santa Monica College statement explains:

The college will be offering 700 state-funded courses at the state fee of $46 per unit this summer, but will not offer the self-funded program of 50 courses at $180 a unit.

SMC also notes that its president, Dr. Chui L. Tsang, has empowered a panel to look into the pepper-spray incident even as campus police conduct their own internal investigation:

The panel will be chaired by Campus Counsel Robert Myers and the additional members are Trustee Nancy Greenstein, Student Trustee Joshua Scuteri, SMC nursing professor Eve Adler and Dean of Workforce and Economic Development Patricia Ramos.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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