Fire capt: Up to 30 demonstrators pepper-sprayed

Published April 4, 2012 4:45AM (EDT)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — As many as 30 demonstrators were pepper-sprayed Tuesday during a protest at Santa Monica College, a fire department captain said.

Firefighters were called to the campus at about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday after protesters got into a "minor altercation" with campus police during a Board of Trustees meeting, Santa Monica fire Capt. Judah Mitchell said. Five people were evaluated at the scene and two were taken to a hospital. Their conditions were not known but the injuries were not believed to be serious, Mitchell said.

Students have been upset over a new plan that involves the formation of a nonprofit foundation which would offer core courses for about $600 each, or about $200 per unit — about four times the current price. The program is designed to cope with rising student demand as state funds dwindle.

The move has raised questions about whether it would create two tiers of students in a system designed to make education accessible to everyone and whether it's even legal under state education law.

Community colleges statewide have lost $809 million in state funding over the past three years, causing schools to turn away about 200,000 students and drastically cut the number of classes offered.

By Salon Staff

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