NEW UPDATE FROM SDSU – See below
Yesterday, March 1st, was the National Day of Action for Education. Students at four area colleges walked out in solidarity and staged marches, rallies, teach-ins and even a “sleep-in” at one campus.
Protests were seen at City College, Mesa College, UCSD, and San Diego State University. The National Day of Action to Defend the Right to Education was coordinated by the Occupy Education movement, and there were protests at about 30 California campuses, including one of the most tense scenes at UC Santa Cruz where about 150 protesters blocked entrances and largely shut down the university. (Here’s more news from around the state by the LA Times – but they inexplicably and continually omit news from San Diego.)
Locally, about 50 to 60 students at UCSD marched through campus to the Chancellor’s Complex and occupied the conference room. Many planned to stay the night and discuss future plans.
Here are reports about the actions at the four college campuses:
Pat Flynn of the San Diego U-T reported:
More than 150 people at City College marched by classrooms in the late morning, pounding on windows and doors and encouraging others to join them. “Walk out, walk out, walk out for your education,” they chanted, along with “We’re students, we’re poor, we won’t pay any more” and “Money for jobs and education, not for war and incarceration.”
Before the protest, Tiana Vargas, a student leader of the action at City College, said cuts and increased fees are making higher education less accessible. “Education is being privatized. We are slowly being kicked out,” she said. “The cost just keeps going up.”
Community college tuition in California has risen from $26 a unit to $36 a unit this year. It will rise to $46 a unit next fall. California’s 72 community college districts had their state funding cut by $541 million this year. “The government supports wars and occupations,” said Caroline Morena, a nursing student at City College. “They need to stop supporting the 1 percent and start supporting us because we are the future of the country.”
San Diego State University
NEW UPDATE: by Matt Blythe, with input from Bo Elder – in a Special Report for the OB Rag reports:
Yesterday at SDSU, student’s walked out of class in protest of the recent tuition increases. At noon students were encouraged to walk out of class in protest.
Around 500 students showed up to a rally outside of Scripps cottage and stood in solidarity with college campuses around the country to protect higher education from privatization. SDSU students recently received a 9% tuition increase while their president, Elliot Hirshman, received a $100,000 pay raise.
Frustration over this injustice was apparent in the speakers. Students and faculty spoke on issues ranging from free speech on campus, to military spending and its effect on the higher education budget, to the difference in money spent on prisons vs. schools. An open session began after that, allowing students to speak about their own issues and grievances with the state of their school.
An impromptu march was called for by the students and went from Scripps to Manchester hall, which houses the offices of various campus administrators. Students rallied outside and collectively decided to go in and demand their money that was unjustly given to Hirshman as a pay raise. Administrative staff met the protestors and reported that Hirshman was conveniently out of town during the most militant campus protest in years (apparently asking corporations for money to fund the school). The students demanded a meeting with Hirshman to address their grievances.
Students from the M1 planning committee took down protestors emails with the intention of meeting agin to discuss demands and prepare for future actions. Most students had already left by the time campus police arrived in 4 vehicles. Remaining students rebuffed their claims to be there to facilitate free speech.
Diana Crofts-Pelayo of KPBS reported:
At SDSU, the M1 Coalition, the group that organized the event at Scripps Cottage on campus, encouraged students to walk out of their classes at noon and meet them to discuss the problems in the education system and find solutions. Professors, representatives from various student organizations on campus and community members spoke out at the event.
Alicia Nichols, emcee of the event, said students and faculty are in this together because neither are benefiting from the privatization of education. She said the schools are being run like a business and only administrators are benefiting.
“Our goals is really just to create an environment on this particular campus where students are consistently voicing their disagreements and don’t feel so powerless in the face of cuts and fee hikes, which is generally the way that it has been going for the last about 10 years.” …
“This is really the culmination of about five, six years of frustration and students just getting together and saying we need to foster an environment that’s conducive for activism on this campus,” she said.
Ashley Wardle, an SDSU graduate student arrested at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach, said as a teaching assistant it broke her heart to encounter students who were unable to afford their education because of tuition increases.
“As an educator, I said I have to get involved in this,” she said. “I have to make sure that future generations are able to go to school…” She also said it is essential to empower students to come together and speak out against the cuts to education. “When we don’t come together, it’s easier for (the CSU Trustees) to impose these budget cuts when they know that there’s a voice and there’s people that are against it, hopefully they’ll think twice before they implement these budget cuts,” she said.
In addition, Nichols also said that the group wants to prevent ethnic studies departments from being consolidated together or being taken away entirely.
Flynn of the U-T added that at SDSU, more than 300 people held a rally with student and faculty speakers outside of Scripps Cottage. Tables were also set up to register students to vote. And after the rally, about 50 students walked to Manchester Hall and asked to see SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. When told that he was out of town, they left without incident.
University of California San Diego
The Public Education Coalition organized an event to “reclaim UCSD” in which students and professors held a walk out and a rally. Cienna Davis, ethnic studies major at UCSD, said in a telephone interview that after the rally, the group marched through campus to the Chancellor’s Complex and occupied the conference room. Davis said there are between 50 and 60 students currently in the conference room, with many planning to stay the night. They are discussing their future plans. According to Nikolai Smith, students are planning to stay the entire week and have put together a list of demands to be met by the UCSD administration by March 8.
Flynn counted approximately 200 students who marched from the rally in front of Geisel Library to the administration complex where they entered an unoccupied conference room.
At UC San Diego, protesters listened to more than an hour of animated exhortations from student and faculty speakers in front of the library draped with a sing that read: “Reclaim UCSD. Stop privatization of education.”
“Enough is enough,” said Ricardo Dominguez, a visual arts professor who endorses “digital civil disobedience. I ask you to join ‘hactivists’ across the world and call for free global education, free global health care.”
Alborz Ghandehari, a student organizer of the UC San Diego event, pronounced it a success. “Faculty, students and staff have come together to express that public education is a human right and that it must be accessible and free, regardless of race immigration status or socioeconomic status.”
by Justin Powell, age 18 / Special to the OB Rag
Yesterday, March 1, 2012 was the day when there were college campus walk-outs all over San Diego to protest the sad state of education. I have never before participated in something like this but as I was walking from a class on campus, I just sort of fell in with an activist group parading through the school and actually liked it! My mom laughed and said, “welcome to your family tradition of anarchy and rebellion.” LOL
At Mesa College, where I am a freshman student, groups of student activists chanted and massed in a estimated group of 100-150. Though Mesa does not have the radicalized reputation of it’s more rabidly political downtown sister campus–City College, I witnessed powerful Mesa student activists who walked boldly through the Kearney Mesa facility.
Since my Chicano Studies class professor had dismissed us early when we turned in our term paper, I fell in with the educational activists and walked along with them. Our raucous group passed the lunch court and shouted to entice the support from curious students chowing done on burgers or sipping a Starbucks coffee.
Continuing on toward the H-200 and H-300 building, the rowdy agitators banged on the windows of classes that were in session, shouting “Join us for Free Education.” I really felt a great deal of psychological release from pounding on those classroom windows and disrupting the classes–all in the name of righteousness, of course.
Our group then returned to the quad area where they originally began the protest. The leaders of the Mesa College Day of Action thanked everyone for their valuable participation. My very cool English teacher, Wendy Smith, was up on the quad showing support for the students. She is the best and all the professor’s rating site reviews will agree. Wendy Smith is right on!
Mesa College proudly joined their sisters and brothers at City College, SDSU, and UCSD on this National Day of Action for Education. Though many write off Mesa as a “white bread oasis of mediocrity,” (my mom’s words) we who value an affordable education for all made our voices heard. Though the prosperous students who attend the Mesa College Drive Community College may be in better financial shape then their more deprived brethren down south at City College, their hearts are just as easily riled up for a good cause.