The Washington Post

Santa Monica College students pepper-sprayed while protesting expensive courses

Congressional candidate David Steinman wipes his face after being sprayed with pepper spray during the protest on Tuesday. (AP/AP)

More than two dozen Santa Monica College students were pepper-sprayed Tuesday night after they tried to enter a trustees meeting while chanting “Let us in” and “No cuts, no fees, education should be free.”

Raw video posted to YouTube shows the students screaming and crying as they hold their hands to their eyes. A college spokesman told the Associated Press that it was the “judgment of campus police that the crowd was getting out of hand,” noting that this was the first time pepper spray had been used on campus.

The incident is the latest reflection of rising anger on California campuses over spending cuts to higher education.

Last fall, video of a campus police lieutenant pepper-spraying University of California at Davis students went viral, drawing international attention and fueling further student demonstrations. The UC-Davis students were protesting tuition increases.

In March, that anger played out at UC-Santa Cruz, where students shut down much of the school by blocking campus entrances. Days later, almost 70 students were arrested in Sacramento for refusing to leave the state Capitol.

California students have been severely impacted by the billions of dollars cut from the state’s education budget over the past several years. In the past five years, tuition has nearly doubled, to the extent that for many California students, Harvard and Yale are now less expensive than state schools.

In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education.

Santa Monica College students gathered at the trustees meeting Tuesday to protest proposed price hikes for core courses. Under a new plan, each core course will cost $600, four times the current price.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.