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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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SBCC Trustee VP works towards free college tuition in California

Jonathan Abboud, vice president of the Board of Trustees, on Thursday, March 16, in one of his favorite places in Isla Vista, at the corner of El Embarcadero Rd and Del Playa Road in Isla Vista. Abboud will attend the California Democrats State Convention this week to advocate for free college tuition.

Jonathan Abboud, trustee vice president, will attend the annual California Democrats State Convention to propose his vision of free tuition for all public colleges in the state.

The convention will be held Friday, May 19, through Sunday, May 21, in Sacramento. There, Democrats will have progressive discussions including how to make college affordable for students.

“Right now is the best time to be working on this,” Abboud said.

The resolution he will propose will endorse the idea of progressive taxation in California to fully fund higher education and eliminate tuition. On average, taxes would increase by an average of $48 per California family.

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Abboud says he and the Reclaim California Higher Education coalition have been working on this idea since before Bernie Sanders ran for president.

“Now that Bernie Sanders ran and made it a big thing, it’s not a crazy idea anymore,” Abboud said.

In fact, the idea could become a reality. On Sunday, April 9, New York became the first state to offer free four-year college education.

Abboud has worked numerous volunteer hours with Amy Hines, the coalition’s director and co-author of the resolution, to get California pushing towards the idea too.

Both Abboud and Hines are a part of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara and are delegates of the Democratic State Central Committee. As delegates, they have the ability to turn in resolutions, submit platform changes, and vote on officers.

“I’m fully invested in this resolution,” Hines said in a phone interview.

Thursday night, Abboud brought the resolution to the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara who ended up voting in support of it. He hopes to have the resolution brought to the state policy level as well.

“If we change the state policy level, it kind of negates anything that is happening at the lower end at the CSU, UC, and community colleges,” Abboud said. “It’ll trickle down to them.”

The convention already plans to discuss debt-free education for University of California and California State colleges, and free tuition for community colleges. Abboud disagrees with the debt-free concept and does not support it as a first step. He thinks there will be a debate.

“That’s like a Hillary Clinton type of idea,” Abboud said. “I think going after that is like putting way too much energy and resources into something that is still bad.”

He believes free tuition would be a “public good.” The ultimate goal of the resolution is to lift people out of poverty instead of having them graduate with debt.

“This is a movement that’s growing and we’re still getting there, but I think this is the movement,” Abboud said.

Abboud hopes to meet with Assembly Democrat Monique Limón next week and plans to discuss the resolution at a City College Board of Trustees meeting soon.

Two weeks ago, Abboud gave a presentation in San Francisco to the UC Student Association about it. He intends to educate as many people as he can, including students at City College.

Bryanna Siguenza, student vice president of external affairs, said in an email that she’d love to send student officers to attend the convention. She plans on discussing it with them at the student government’s next meeting.

“All I can hope is that California listens,” Siguenza said. “Listens to the students who are struggling and listen to the many plans that are coming in support of this.”

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