Some of you might know me; I’m Elizabeth Roland and a senior at Saint Mary’s. I am a Women’s Studies Major and History minor and have worked damn hard to keep a 3.808 GPA. I am super active and social on campus, the only thing is…. I am not on campus this semester.
Instead, I work in a factory in Los Angeles, 45 hours a week making aerospace printers for minimum wage. I am sure that sentence was hard to comprehend but, yes there is such a thing as aerospace printers, and yes I work in a factory that makes them.
I got to this point because my SMC Endowed scholarship was cut by 78 percent for this 2011-2012 school year. When I tell this people immediately I am asked, “Did you parents make more money?” The answer is no.
The answer to why my scholarship was cut is because I perused another scholarship. The saddest oxymoron a college student can experience. I was offered the position of Resident Advisor for this school year, only to have to turn it down. The sum for the RA scholarship was simply subtracted from the original financial aid that I have been receiving for three years. My financial aid became a math problem a fifth grader could do:
(Original financial aid – sum of the RA scholarship) +RA scholarship = the exact same amount of money, but now I must be an RA to receive it.
This logic made and still makes no sense to me. I was and still am devastated. Instead of spending the first half of my senior year in a collegiant, educational atmosphere surrounded by friends and professors. I am surrounded by printers.
The Occupy movement protesters on campus has been criticized for being these, “selfish, privileges kids protesting for no reason and if they have such a problem with SMC they should just go somewhere else.” The main thing to realize is that the Occupy protesters, protest for me. They protest for students who are unfairly treated by institutions that are supposed to protect them. Like these protesters and like me, we do not want to go to another college. We just want to ensure that our college is a place that values students’ educations over money.
For all of those who criticize Occupy SMC I have a few things to say. Learn about the movement; learn about what these students are protesting for. Talk to someone. And remember that these students are NOT protesting for some abstract concept. They are protesting for to change, not destroy our college.
I was unfairly treaded and it feels amazing to know there are students, some I know- some I don’t, who are taking to the lawn for me, walking out of class for me, protesting on the streets for me. And when I say “for me”, I am saying not only for my experience, but for any student who has been through something like this and has not had the opportunity to share their voice.
I have felt so silenced this semester, so let down by a college I call home. That is why I am sharing my very personal story. I want the college community to know my story, know my pain and realize that change needs to happen, or there will be more stories like mine. Once it becomes personal, it’s really hard to allow the status quo to remain. I guess what I am asking YOU the reader, is imagine my story with your best friend in my place. I bet you would be protesting for them. Make it personal and you will understand the Occupy Movement.
Hearing about Occupy SMC has given me hope, given me hope that our college will be accountable for its actions and for its students. Saint Mary’s was my home but unlike most students, I only get to spend three in half years there. I’m returning to finish my degree in Jan Term and will be graduating in spring (thank you AP credits) but I will stand in solidary and protest for all the students who have been silenced in the past. Thank you Occupy SMC for everything you have done for me.