This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. For a full update out of the April 6 Board of Trustees meeting, see:
Santa Monica College trustees will meet publicly Friday morning to discuss the California Community College Chancellor's request that it postpone a highly contentious tuition plan.
The plan to offer a second tier of higher-priced, non-subsidized courses that would otherwise be eliminated under severe state budget . As many as 30 boisterous demonstrators who oppose the plan were pepper-sprayed by a campus police officer Tuesday night as they stormed a packed Board of Trustees meeting held on the topic.
Friday's special meeting is at 10:30 a.m. in a new venue—at the college's Theater Arts Main Stage—to accommodate a large audience, said Trustee Susan Aminoff.
Among the demands of student protesters is that the board meet in a larger room. The past two meetings held to discuss two-tiered funding were over capacity, with many students placed in an adjacent overflow room. The college's Faculty Association, a union and advocacy group, is also calling on the board to host all of its future meetings in bigger venue, and for the meetings to be broadcast live.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott spoke with Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang Wednesday and asked him to put the tuition plan on hold, according to SMC spokesman Bruce Smith.
"The college is taking Dr. Scott’s request into full consideration," Smith said in a statement.
The Faculty Association voted Thursday to support a stay. Its members say the new tuition policy needs to be vetted by the District Planning and Advisory Council, a coalition of district staffers, students, instructors and administrators.
"We demand more openness in this matter, and in all matters going forward," Faculty Association President Mitra Moassessi said in a statement. "We need to really examine whether this new fee system is actually good for students, and we can't do that until it passes through the joint governance process."
Before the chancellor made the request, the Board of Trustees wasn't scheduled to meet again until May.
Despite growing student opposition, trustees said late Tuesday night that they would not undo the new policy. They say it will benefit students who have not been able to get the course credits they need to transfer to four-year universities.
Santa Monica College is turning away hundreds, if not thousands, of students because budget cuts have forced it to trim 1,100 course sections since 2008. Statewide, it is estimated that community colleges have turned away 300,000 students because of budget cuts, according to Superintendent Chui Tsang.
The second tier of classes will be offered this summer and winter at the college's actual cost of $180 per credit unit, or $540 for a typical three-unit course. California residents currently pay about one-third of that cost.
On Tuesday night, a group of at least 50 students crowded the entryway to the small regular board meeting room in the Business Administration Building chanting "shame on you!" directed at the trustees. When they tried to force their way into the room, students reported that they were pushed and shoved by campus police, one said she was placed in a chokehold, before an officer used pepper spray.