Jun 13, 2008

Students rally against budget cuts

Students rally against budget cuts
Coalition of UC, CSU, community college students organize across state for Higher Education

By Reginald James

History has repeated itself, again. Five years ago, thousands of community colleges students from throughout California marched on the State Capitol to protest the Governor’s proposed budget cuts and potential fee increases. At the time, community college fees were $11 per unit, but the legislature soon voted to raise fees to $18 per unit.
The following year, at the “March in March II” of 2004, students rallied again at the State Capitol and, angry at the higher education fee mockingly told the Governor, “I’ll be back.” That summer fees were raised again, this time to $26 per unit.
Five years later, community college students stayed true to their word and returned to the Capitol, but this time, they brought reinforcements.
Hundreds of University of California, California State University and California Community College students demonstrated at the State Capitol Building April 21, showing a united front against budget cuts and possible fee increases for higher education.
Yelling slogans such as “Knowledge is Power,” “Education-Liberation” and the call-and-response anthem, “What do we want-free education; when do we want it-NOW!”, the students, along with many faculty and staff union members, marched from Raley Field in West Sacramento over the Sacramento River across the Tower bridge, down Capitol before the 10 a.m. press conference.
On the 80 Highway overpass, commuters and truckers alike honked their horns in solidarity as the students sojourned east towards the rising sun. At the Employment Development Department building, as well as other state agencies, people looked out of their windows amazed at the sight of students carrying banners and signs with slogans such as, “Educate, don’t hate,” or “Education, not occupation.”
Under the banner of “Students for the Future of California,” students held simultaneous rallies in Los Angeles, San Diego, as well as Riverside and Santa Barbara.
'Educate, don't hate!'
The Sacramento rally was kicked off Joel Bridgeman, director of campus advisement at San Jose State University, who initiated the mornings most popular chant and message to Sacramento politicians, “Kick us out, we’ll vote you out.”
“What we stand for is affordable, accessible and quality education,” shouted Bridgeman.
California State Students Association (USSA) Chair Dina Cervantes then told the crowd of the pre-rally media coverage and the nay saying she heard from a few republican legislators that morning.
“Many republicans say they don’t want to raise taxes,” said Cervantes, “but they will raise student taxes; fees!”
Cervantes emphasized the need to put more funding into education, opposed to the robust prison budget.
We need to change the “mindset that they are building first-class jails and second class schools,” said Cervantes.
There is no better investment than the investment in students.
Lt. Governor John Garamendi

“There is no better investment than the investment in students,” said Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi. “Infrastructure is important,” he continued, “but the most important thing is to build the minds of students, because you are the future.”
Black Caucus President and Peralta Student Trustee Marlene C. Hurd also addressed the crowd emphasizing this was students’ “call to action.” Hurd, along with Mary Logan, vice-president of the Peralta chapter of SEIU local 1021, organized a delegation of Peralta students who travelled to the rally.
No budget cuts!
Black Caucus President Marlene C. Hurd

“You are going to walk through those politicians doors and tell them, ‘No budget cuts,’” said Hurd, kicking off another spontaneous and thunderous chant of “No budget cuts!”
“Ten years from now,” said United States Student Association (USSA) Chair Gabe Pendas “you can say ‘the movement started here,’” speaking to the national crisis in higher education. “Educate, don’t incarcerate.”
Speaking in solidarity with the students were both Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Don Perata. The crowd then burst into a spontaneous chant of “Yes, we can!” which soon morphed into “Si, se puede!”
For the first time, you have the UC, CSU, and community college students together.
Incoming UC Student Regent D'artagnan Scorza
Incoming UC Student Regent D’artagnan Scorza said, “For the first time, you have the UC, CSU, and community college students together.” Adding, “And the students united, will never be defeated,” prompting another protest anthem.

For more information about what students can do to combat the cuts, go to www.studentsforcalifornia.org.

No comments: