Protestors shut down both entrances to UC Santa Cruz at around 6:00 a.m. for the March 4 day of action.
In an effort to gain more support for higher education, students, teachers, workers and members of the Santa Cruz community came together today as one voice.
As a result of the action, some campus services were reduced, while others were made completely unavailable, including transportation and dining services.
Campus shuttles were not operational and all cafés and dining halls other than College Eight/Oakes and College Nine/Ten remained closed throughout the day.
Felicia McGinty, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, sent a mid-day email to students addressing the situation.
“We understand these disruptions are inconvenient and frustrating,” the email said.
Jim Burns, a UCSC spokesman, commented on protestors actions that shut down campus.
“We salute people who want to call attention to the issue … we just don’t believe students should be deprived the right to attend classes if they wish to or need to,” Burns said.
Students arrived at the base of campus as early as 5 a.m. this morning and then began moving to other entrances to block access to the campus.
Graduate student Adam Hefty showed up with a core group of protestors bright and early.
“I’ve been here since five this morning,” Hefty said. “It’s gone great thus far, we have people at several different entrances and have stopped business as usual around here.”
Hefty said that those who do not endorse the protests should look to reactions from state legislatures.
“Look at what state leaders are saying. Governor Schwarzenegger in his state of the state address proposed changes to the state budget and a constitutional amendment,” said Hefty. “We are having an impact and our voices are beginning to be heard.”
Literature professor Carla Freccero was among several professors in attendance.
“I work with the faculty organizing committee, and a lot have shown up today,” Freccero said. “We’re all involved in what’s going on with the budget crisis.”
Freccero, much like many of the teachers on campus, has had her pay cut and has had to see her students deal with these troubling times.
“I think when the students are affected, I am affected, I’ve gotten my pay cut, much like everyone else,” Freccero said. “What’s been bothering me now, for close to a decade is the privatization of the university; I’ve been here for almost 20 years and it’s just become more and more noticeable.”
Environmental studies and economics student Matthew Viponde arrived at the event at nine in the morning, and was excited to see how the rest of the day went.
“Hopefully more and more people will show up throughout the day, the more speakers the better, it mobilizes the crowd and energizes the people,” Viponde said.
“I think it’s really important to show everyone across Santa Cruz, across the county, the state and the country that student activism is not dead.”
Viponde empathizes for all students who are feeling the squeeze from recent fee increases and budget cuts.
“I’m an autonomous student, and I make so little money that I get financial aid for school,” Viponde said. “I’m more concerned with middle class families, it’s a difficult time to be a student here … I just hope that this day becomes a turning point for people’s access to quality education at the public level.”
Jennifer Cain contributed to this report.