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College Board Votes for Arizona Boycott, Student Member Opposes  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

June 03, 2010 --Santa Monica College (SMC) on Tuesday joined a long list of entities boycotting Arizona because of its recently passed anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously for a resolution to refrain from conducting business with the state and those in it until SB 1070 and another recently passed law that eliminates “ethnic studies” from K-12 curriculum are rescinded. Student Trustee Michael Song, who has an advisory vote, opposed the resolution.

Trustee Margaret Quiñones, who introduced the measure, said the resolution was about more than Arizona. “It’s about what we’re going to tolerate as people here in Santa Monica regardless of what color we are,” she said. She added, “We will not allow language or behavior that will violate people’s civil rights. What Arizona has engaged in, they’re not bringing it to California. They’re not going to bring it here.”

Regarding the ethnic studies ban, HB 2281, Quiñones said, “That’s basically like saying a lot of us don’t exist.” SB 1070 makes it a crime to be in the country illegally and requires Arizona’s law enforcement officers to ask for proof of citizenship if there is a “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant. This inquiry can only be made if the person is being stopped for another illegal matter.

Song, who was voting on the first item at his first meeting as a student trustee, said he was initially opposed to SB 1070. But he said after doing further research and due to some revisions that were made to the law, his “perception has changed somewhat.” He did not specify if this meant he supported it. Song said the boycott concerned him because of the economic consequences to Arizona residents.

“Not all of the people in Arizona are for this bill, and (the opponents) are the type of people, the working class people, that will be affected with this resolution,” Song said.

Trustee Susan Aminoff said she was concerned about the effect on Arizona’s tourism industry.
“That industry is inhabited by 200,000 working class folks, many of whom are minorities,” Aminoff said.


“They will be impacted by the vote that we take. So I’m trying to weigh the civil rights and human rights issues against this very real economic fact. And when I do that, I still come out on the human rights side of things.”

Quiñones said that was a valid concern, but she said racial minorities are at risk anyway by the passage of SB 1070. “Those socio-economic people of color in Arizona, they’re going to be targets every minute. They won’t even know if they have a job or housing. They’re going to be targets all the time unless other people stand up for them.”

A few students and faculty addressed the board on this item. All but one was in support of the boycott. The lone dissenter was Sean Ogino. A member of the college debate team, he and another student presented pro and con arguments to the board.

“There is a lot of disinformation about SB 1070,” Ogino said. “SB 1070 is not a bill that makes it any more illegal to be an illegal immigrant. What it does is it enforces the laws that are already on the books … you see nothing new coming from this legislation other than having law enforcement have the tools to (enforce the laws.)”

He also noted that, according to several scientific polls, a majority of Americans support the law. “Not only will an economic boycott make us look lame, make us not only lose revenue, but it will also not move forward the progressive movement as we would wish it to.”

The board’s decision came a couple hours after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 for an Arizona boycott. Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes Santa Monica, was one of the measure’s proponents. The Santa Monica City Council approved a boycott last week, although it gives the option for the council to approve a contract with an entity in Arizona after City staff analyzes the effects of rejecting it.


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