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Chancellor Asks Santa Monica College to Put New Tuition Pricing System on Hold  


By Jorge Casuso

April 5, 2012 -- The chancellor of California's community college system asked Santa Monica College on Wednesday to delay implementing its two-tier tuition pricing system while the state attorney general weighs in on its legality.

The chancellor's request comes one day after students were pepper sprayed by campus police when they stormed a Board of Trustees meeting to protest the program, which creates a non-profit organization designed to offer discontinued classes at a higher rate during the winter and summer.

Late Thursday morning, students continued to hold protests, marching on the administration building, which was put on lockdown.  

On Wednesday, Chancellor Jack Scott called President Chui L. Tsang and "asked the college to put the program on hold," said college spokesman Bruce Smith. "He has a couple of concerns. It was a good exchange of information.

"At this point the program is moving forward," said Smith.

Robert Myers, the campus counsel for the college, is "confident (the program) is completely legal," Smith said.

A former Santa Monica City Attorney, Myers was the architect of the City's rent control law and, more recently, served as lead counsel in the Chanda Smith class action lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The state attorney general is expected to issue an opinion within a week, according to the chancellor's office, which contends the new program violates state education codes.

Scott also expressed concerns that the program would exclude students who can't afford to pay the $180 per unit cost, nearly four times the $46 per unit for state-subsidized classes.

The plan, which is the first of its kind in the nation, has been a source of student ire since it was approved in March, quickly garnering national attention.

The “enrollment contract educational program” creates a non-profit organization designed to offer classes with the highest demand on SMC's campus that were discontinued during the winter and summer due to State budget cuts.  The program will have no effect on the regular spring and fall sessions.

The self-funding program would allow students who aren't able to get into the courses during regular sessions to take the same classes with SMC professors. But because the non-profit institution would not benefit from State subsidies, it would have to pay for the full cost of holding the classes itself.


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