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Students, Community & Labor Stand Together to Stop Cuts

Contact: Sylvia Watson, Communications, 206-261-3603

Students, Community, and Labor Stand Together to Stop Cuts in State’s Community and Technical Colleges

Rally to take place at 3 PM to call attention to closing academic programs,
reducing student services, and giving faculty “pink slips”

Renton – Community activists, labor, and students will gather this Saturday, May 14, from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM at Renton Technical College, Bldg. C. The purpose is to highlight the need to reinvest in our students, our faculty, and our communities and to recognize the role of higher education in redressing institutional racism and racial inequities that impact teaching and learning experiences for employees and students of color. Community and technical colleges provide greater access to higher education for lower income, first-generation, and students of color. Nearly half (42%) of students who attend two-year colleges are students of color, according to data from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges’ 2014 Fall Enrollment Report.

“In this world of hate and divisiveness, we need to proactively challenge institutional racism in our colleges, so the day will offer opportunities to discuss and strategize how we achieve racial equity in education,” said Karen Strickland, president of AFT Washington.

At Noon, Seattle Black Lives Matter organizer, award-winning poet, and attorney Nikkita Oliver will perform. Oliver worked with Macklemore on their single White Privilege II. Troy Osaki, a local writer and performance artist, will perform his spoken word poetry.

At 3 PM, a rally will take place to demand that the Green River College president and board of trustees stop their efforts to cut programs. Reductions-in-force notices went out yesterday to close business technology evening courses at the Kent campus, geography, design drafting, French and German foreign languages, study skills, and more.

Green River College student activists will hold a workshop on organizing for social justice on campuses. Faculty from Cascadia Community College and The Evergreen College will facilitate a student debt relief workshop. FUSE Washington and the Health Equity Circle will lead a workshop on income and wealth inequality as it relates to organizing for education funding. There will also be workshops on community advocacy in the State Legislature, workers’ rights and equal opportunity before and after graduation, and transforming stories to action.

This is the time to reinvest in education, not shrink it further.

Community organizations co-sponsoring this event include 21 Progress, Laborers’ International, Fuse Washington, Rainier Uniserv/WEA, Sound Alliance, Asian Counseling and Referral Services/Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, Renton Technical College Federation of Teachers, United Faculty of Green River, Student Activists/Green River College, LELO, and AFT Washington.

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Note: The rally will be held outside of Building C and visuals include a rally and picket signs. Opportunities for media interviews throughout the day.

AFT Washington, AFL-CIO, is affiliated with the 1.8 million-member American Federation of Teachers and represents 6,500 education employees in early learning, community and technical colleges, and regional universities in Washington State.