Students took each other on at San Jose State University as part of an election teach-in all day Tuesday. Stephanie Chuang reports.
The San Jose State student who started “Measure D” – the initiative to increase the San Jose minimum wage from $8 to $10 spoke exclusively with NBC Bay Area – the first time since she began work on Measure D two years ago. Marisela Castro was in the crowd watching a debate by students this morning on both Measure D and Prop 30, which is expected to raise anywhere from $6.8 to $9 billion by raising both sales and income taxes.
Castro said both her parents were farmworkers who had to take on multiple jobs. She added it was a true struggle to grow up without their presence, something she sees reflected in children at the YMCA where she works for an afterschool program. So two years ago, she and her classmates in a sociology class began working on what is now Measure D.
“It’s a dream come true of mine,” she said.
Her sociology professor, Scott Myers-Lipton, helped bring that debate to other students at San Jose State University, with the aim of teaching them a real lesson outside the classroom at a teach-in that began at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Students took on both sides of both Measure D and Prop. 30.
Senior Patrick Quyo said, “With an increase in minimum wage, students will have greater ability to pay for tuition and other costs.” His opponent, Avesta Sabetian, also a senior, said “Grocery stores, places like that can’t afford to pay two dollars more to every single employee they hire.”
Myers-Lipton said the debate was fruitful, especially considering the make-up of the student body. “I would say 80 percent of our students are working full-time. The average age is 27 years old on our campus and these students, I’d say 25 percent of them are making min wage so they are deeply interested in that topic.”
Prop. 30 was another hotly contested topic. Seniors Herlinda Aguirre and Katrina Swanson took each other on for the friendly debate.
“At CSU specifically, we’ll get 150 million dollars for next budget year. We actually stop tuition increase of 150 dollars,” said Aguirre.
Swanson rebutted, “I do care about education. I just don’t think this is the right proposition, right time for the taxes and it’s poorly-worded.”
The debate continues at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the CEO of United Way and a representative from the Chamber of Commerce arguing for and against Measure D.