Students, faculty and workers have been spent hours at work organizing against fee increases and budget cuts. Today’s events will be a testament to that hard work.
As part of a national day of action to defend public education, today’s rally is the next in a series of protests against UC fee increases and budget cuts. Students at UC Berkeley and UCLA have organized similar rallies in solidarity with the movement to save public education.
Education for All, a San Diego-based organization formed to fight cuts to education and services, will be marching to numerous public buildings to hold rallies and place headstones outside them with messages like “R.I.P. Education.”
At UCSC, the day will begin with a series of “creative disruptions” spread across campus to call attention to the noon rally that will take place in the Quarry Plaza. Organizers were hesitant to say much about the disruptions, except that they are meant to call attention to administrative decisions that reduce the quality of a UC education while increasing the cost of attendance, like increasing class sizes and cutting library hours.
“Closing down campus for a day is a momentary disruption, but the decisions that the administration has made disrupt a student’s entire life,” said organizer Mark Paschal, a third-year graduate student.
Last year, UC regents approved an increase in student fees, swelling the price tag from $7,483 annually to $10,302, and implemented budget cuts that reduced academic support services systemwide.
At UCSC and other UC campuses, these administrative decisions were met with multiple protest actions, including campus shutdowns and the occupation of university buildings.
UCSC director of public information Jim Burns had little to say about the day of action.
“At this point, we understand that on our campus the day will feature a noon rally at Quarry Plaza,” Burns said. “The state’s declining support for public higher education, which has eroded UC’s quality and student access to that quality, is certainly an issue that deserves such attention.”
Despite extensive outreach to students, many faculty members were not aware of today’s action day until this week. As recently as yesterday, several professors said they knew nothing about the protest.
“I didn’t find out about the protest until this week when a student in my class asked if we’d have class on Thursday because of the day of action, and I said, ‘What day of action?’” said associate professor of community studies Mary Beth Pudup.
The national day of action comes one day after state legislators held a public hearing on the proposed 2010-2011 state budget.
Their vote will coincide directly with the national day of action. Legislators told Reuters that the plan called for more than $7 billion in spending cuts from areas including schools, welfare and other social services.
A related ruling from the California Supreme Court on Monday upheld Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to furlough more than 200,000 workers last year in order to trim the state deficit.
The organizing committee hopes the rally will create momentum for other actions throughout the school year and inspire students to become more politically active.
“I think students are going to be upset,” said organizer Erin Ellison, a graduate student in psychology, about the possiblity of another fee increase. “I don’t want them to feel helpless. I want them to take action to change the situation.”
In addition to the noon rally on campus, there will be a 4 p.m. rally at the Santa Cruz clock tower with K-12 students, parents and teachers.