Student opinions of college bond measure disputed

An opponent says students are against Proposition S, while a college staff member says they are for it. Also, this week a second round of arguments were released for and against the bond measure.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

Proposition S opponent Tom Fakehany said most of the Santa Monica College students are against the $135 million bond measure that would go toward building and improving college facilities because it does not address the real financial problems at SMC. Don Girard, SMC’s director of marketing, said that is total nonsense and that students are volunteering for the campaign. Meanwhile, no official survey has been conducted to determine the student support of the bond measure.

Proposition S money would exclusively go toward capital projects, including $25 million for projects in Malibu. Fakehany said most students do not think that is a useful way to spend money when just last year the college eliminated eight vocational programs and let go of a number of teachers.

“They [students] want money to go toward the classroom and to replace the things that they had that were taken away,” Fakehany said. “This [Proposition S] is not a popular thing on campus .”

Dina Cervantes, who represents the student body on the SMC Board of Trustees, said she did not believe most of her fellow students even know about the bond measure, since many were just returning to campus after the fall semester began on Monday.

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“Those who I have spoken to who know about it are not opposed to it, except for one person,” she added.

This week, a second round of arguments in favor and opposed to Proposition S were released. Those arguments will appear on the ballot along with arguments that were released last month. Signing the arguments in favor of the bond measure were state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, Malibu City Councilmember Jeff Jennings, Santa Monica Childcare Task Force member Irene B. Zivi, Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commissioner Neil Carrey and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District President Jose Escarce. Those signing the opposition argument were Santa Monica residents Maria Sirotti, Donna Alvarez, Mary Anne Solomon, Jean Sedillos and Roberta Goldfarb. Each person represented a different neighborhood in Santa Monica. Fakehany, who lives in Malibu, said he would have signed the opposition argument, but was unable to get to the place where he could do it in time.

The opponents wrote in their argument that allowing SMC to build an educational facility in Malibu would lead to problems: “Buying acreage in Malibu for a satellite campus will attract thousands of commuter students. The college will build parking lots, not playing fields.”

Malibu Mayor Sharon Barovsky called that statement “silly.” She said the educational facility in Malibu, which is proposed to be 25,000 square feet with about 10 classrooms, would not lead to any traffic nightmare.

“We already have 500 Malibu students driving into Santa Monica to attend classes,” Barovsky said. “This will take them off the road, not add to the traffic.”

Santa Monica resident Matt Millen, a leading opponent of Proposition S, said there is nothing that will prevent SMC from building more than one facility, which he said could lead to further congestion.

Another argument Millen’s side of the campaign raised was that the college would be a bad neighbor for new communities where facilities would be constructed because it had already proven that it was in Santa Monica neighborhoods such as Sunset Park and Pico Neighborhood.

“[The college has brought] increased traffic, parking problems [and] noise,” the opponents wrote. “If Prop S passes, the college can degrade your neighborhood too.”

Girard said that is not a fair argument because in a recent survey of Santa Monica residents, 61 percent of the people said the condition and effect of college facilities on the community were either excellent or good, while just 20 percent rated them as fair or poor. Millen said that survey did not mean anything to him because he did not know who conducted and paid for it or how the questions were worded.

Those in favor of Proposition S wrote that the measure would “modernize the college and preserve educational opportunity.” They also wrote about how the bond money would help to construct facilities for the vocational programs that are “available to other communities that today’s training requires.”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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