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Press Release from Occupy HCC

2012/03/08 in Activism, Deval Patrick, Education, Holyoke Community College, Mailbag, Occupy, Press

HUSH was contacted by Cheryl O’Connell of Occupy HCC with this press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Cheryl O’Connell
Email: occupyhcc@gmail.com

SUMMARY OF EVENTS FOR HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE MARCH 6 STUDENT WALKOUT TO PROTEST GOVERNOR’S PLAN TO CONSOLIDATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARDS

Tuesday afternoon, March 6, around one hundred fifty students and allies walked out of Holyoke Community College to voice their concern with Governor Deval Patrick’s community college consolidation proposal. A student played music as protesters met at the plaza outside the Student Lounge. Energy was high, students were excited to have a venue where their voices would be heard.

As the crowd grew student Lance Matos stood and spoke about the Governor’s proposal and how the student body felt this will affect Holyoke Community College. He spoke of the concerns that a budget based on quantifiable data and the standardization of community college curriculum would lead to schools that teach to tests rather than focus on quality education. Students who have gone through the public education system in Massachusetts have experienced how the MCAS created an environment of teaching to tests. Many students at the walkout communicated that they felt they were short-changed in their K-12 education due to the MCAS and worry that standardization of higher education curriculum would lead to this type of teaching environment. Matos pointed out that while Patrick is distancing himself from “The Case for Community Colleges,” a report by The Boston Foundation that focuses on how to best help the workforce through higher education, his language and timing is far too suspect to credit the proposal being unrelated to the report. Matos reminded students that one day of action will not be enough to defend higher education. He encouraged them to continue being active. Later in the day students were asked to join other representatives from Holyoke Community College on Thursday, March 8 to travel to Boston for Student Advocacy Day where student will be able to voice their concerns to state politicians.

Following Matos’ speech he opened the floor to other students to speak about their experiences at HCC and voice their concerns in relation to the Governor’s proposal. Dozens of students took turns sharing how Holyoke Community College has benefited them and given them opportunities they never even realized were available to them. The concern that narrowing the focus of community colleges to mainly workforce development would lead to the neglect of other educational opportunities was repeated by many of the speakers.

The event ended with students chanting “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!” During the event students circulated a petition they plan on submitting to Governor Patrick stating that they take a stand against his proposal and that they demand student voices be a part of any change in the way that higher education is run. Over 250 signatures were collected during the event and students plan to continue collecting signatures for the next few weeks, both in person and online. Students encourage all community members to sign it, saying this affects all of our communities, not just community college students. The organization Massachusetts Jobs with Justice is hosting the students’ petition online. It can be found at here.

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Name: Cheryl
Email: occupyhcc@gmail.com
Subject: student walk-out at hcc
Questions/Comments: Hey,
I’ve been following your blog and was wondering if you would be interested
in the press release about yesterday’s student walk-out at HCC. If so, drop
an email to us at Occupy HCC and I can send you a copy with some photos.
Thanks, great job covering the news in Holyoke!

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